Anti-BDS Author Inadvertently Makes the Case for BDS


David Bernstein, the President and CEO of Jewish Council For Public Affairs has penned a new article discussing the role of "intersectionality" in the rising popularity of the BDS movement. This is a remarkable article and you should read the whole thing.


But this article is remarkable not for the reason intended by its author. 

It is remarkable because if you read it carefully it actually makes the case in favor of BDS and anti-occupation activity in general:

Publicly attacking intersectionality and its adherents is not likely to do much damage. To the contrary, calling out Israel’s detractors can paradoxically have the effect of popularizing their views [emphasis mine] and bringing them further into the mainstream.

One can't help but ask "Why would publicizing BDS make it more popular?" Bernstein never addresses this question. But the answer is obvious: The arguments in favor of BDS are compelling to fair-minded people everywhere who are revolted by Israel's occupation of Palestine.

Bernstein also says:

While anti-Israelism has long found a sympathetic ear among segments of the far left, it has not, until recently, enjoyed much popularity among ethnic minorities. Moreover, until recently, BDS supporters probably weren’t organized enough to do the necessary outreach to and stewardship of fellow marginalized groups. Now, evidently, they are.

Isn't it clear that minorities who have been victims of oppression themselves identify with the oppression of Palestinians seeking freedom and human rights in their own land?

Bernstein's prescription to "solve" this conundrum is equally dubious:

the Jewish community relations movement, must do more to establish our own intersectionality with groups on the mainstream left, which is not nearly as prone to radical currents. 

Why only establish intersectionality with the mainstream left? Why not establish intersectionality with the right? After all, there has never been an American political party more uniformly hostile to Palestinians and BDS than the modern Republican Party. The reason is that Bernstein knows that too-close identification with the right is a long-term death-knell for his cause. The American right has become closely associated with racism and religious bigotry. Many Americans (and a vast majority of American Jews) are disgusted by this stance. So instead of embracing this most natural ally, he seeks to form an alliance with the more respectable "mainstream left". It's a tough position to be in when you can't openly associate with your strongest supporters who represent nearly 50% of the population.

I have interacted with David Bernstein one-on-one. He seems like a great person and he is very smart. Unlike Benjamin Netanyahu and some of the more rabid supporters of Israel's occupation he is not a racist nor a bully. He claims to oppose the occupation and settlements. But in the end, his job is to insulate them from serious political pressure. And even for the smartest, most articulate person in the world that's an unwinnable proposition.

  • published this page in Home 2016-01-05 10:57:26 -0500

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