BDS and the Cultural War For Israel/Palestine

Well, you got to give the BDS folks credit for creativity – even if they added artists who might not have agreed to be put on their team (for example, Santana’s publicist told me personally that he did not cancel but postponed his concert and that the move was not due to political considerations.) They are doing an excellent job promoting and popularizing their cause.

The video, however, also reveals a mentality that is a major part of the problem – viewing this conflict as a black and white struggle between monsters and victims engaged in a zero-sum game for the soul and body of Israel/Palestine. All information, factual or otherwise, is filtered through this dichotomous schema in a way that is congruent with its content. Such a model may mobilize people on college campuses and the like (not sure they will be flattered by the penguin comparison though), but it wont bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace.

I am reminded here of spot-on passage from Amos Oz, one of Israel’s greatest novelists, who writes:

I think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to the Israeli-Libyan or Israeli-Iraqi conflict, is a tragedy in the exact sense of the word. It is a collision between one very powerful claim and another no less powerful. And it is high time for honest people outside the region to conceive of it as a tragedy and not as some Wild-West show, containing ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. Tragedies can be resolved in one of two ways: There is the Shakespearean resolution and there is the Chekhovian one. At the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, the stage is strewn with dead bodies and maybe there’s some justice hovering high above. A Chekhov tragedy, on the other hand, ends with everybody disillusioned, embittered, heart-broken, disappointed, absolutely shattered, but still alive. And I want a Chekhovian resolution and not a Shakespearean one for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I fear that many within the BDS movement are functioning from a Shakespearean disposition and are calling for a Shakespearean resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy. This is a troubling trend that makes the work of peacemakers all that much harder.

For a critique of the BDS movement, click here.


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