Monday, November 22, 2010

IPMN, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement and its many hoaxes...UPDATE...and now a correction

[2] A correction see below.

UPDATE: I just received this (Nov. 24) from Mr. Lawler at DePaul; please read the rest of the posting, if you have not, to see what it is about:

"Hello again Ms. Larson:

Here is an updated statement on the hummus issue at DePaul:

DePaul University has asked its food services vendor to reinstate the sale of Sabra hummus on its Chicago campuses. Last week, university personnel asked them to temporarily suspend the sale of Sabra hummus following a request to do so from a campus student group on political grounds. It is policy when the university receives such a request, to first forward it to its internal Fair Business Practices Committee for thorough review and consideration before taking any action. The student group’s request has now been forwarded to that committee.

The primary purpose of DePaul’s Fair Business Practices Committee is to protect the integrity of the University's mission and values with regard to DePaul's contracts and contractors. The Fair Business Practices Committee receives and examines complaints and makes recommendations to the president consistent with the University's mission and values.

Communications Specialist"

Several articles about supposed successful divestment from companies doing business with Israel have been linked to on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Israel/Palestine Mission Network site. At least one of them, an important one, isn’t true and another is in the decision process. Perhaps the reading public would like to help with that decision.

The first and biggest story was that a major Dutch Pension fund had divested from Israel. That was not the case. The link was to the E-Magazine, The Electronic Intifada. The article, “Major Dutch pension fund divests from occupation” by Adri Nieuwhof and Guus Hoelen begins:

The major Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), which has investments totaling 97 billion euros, has informed The Electronic Intifada that it has divested from almost all the Israeli companies in its portfolio.

PGGM, the manager of the major Dutch pension fund PFZW, has adopted a new guideline for socially responsible investment in companies which operate in conflict zones.

In addition, PFZM has also entered into discussions with Motorola, Veolia and Alstom to raise its concerns about human rights issues. All three companies have actively supported and profited from Israel's occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip.

But a different article in the Huffington Post, “Another Israel Divestment Hoax,” by Ben S Cohen, begins:

When I read this report on the Electronic Intifada website claiming that the largest pension fund in The Netherlands had divested from the Israeli companies in its
portfolio, it struck me that the campaign to subject Israel to a regime of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions - BDS for short - had hit a milestone. No longer, I said to myself, is this a matter of campus gesture politics. The long-awaited South Africa effect is finally manifesting.

Then it occurred to me that the story might not be true. I contacted the fund's managers, the Dutch company PGGM, and they confirmed my suspicions.

Cohen goes on to explain:

Back in May, Israel's economic vibrancy secured its admission into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD,) which gathers together the world's developed countries. As a result, funds focused upon emerging markets were obliged to withdraw their investments from Israeli companies, who'd moved to the different benchmark for developed markets. Bottom line: this had absolutely nothing to do with politically-motivated divestment.
Cohen then explores some other hoaxes perpetrated by the BDS movement. And there are many: Hampshire College, Motorola hoax and like the hoax above, Harvard University. Cohen writes, "The University has not divested from Israel,’ a spokesman calmly explained. “’Israel was moved from the MSCI, our benchmark in emerging markets, to the EAFE index in May due to its successful growth. Our emerging markets holdings were rebalanced accordingly.’”

So now the minor divestment story. The IPMN linked several days ago to this story: “DePaul divests from Israeli hummus product.” This is a blog with postings by Sami Kishawi. He begins:

Today marks another win for the global boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement against corporations that profit from severe human rights violations. Chicago’s very own DePaul University just announced that their dining services will be discontinuing the sale of hummus manufactured by Sabra, an Israeli brand known for its vocal and material support of Israeli Defense Forces. The administration has temporarily suspended the sale of Sabra products and will likely move towards permanently banning the brand from campus.
And this is not different from another article not linked to by IPMN, The Hudson Valley Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement: to end Israeli Apartheid. They begin:

Today marks another win for the global boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement against corporations that profit from severe human rights violations. Chicago’s very own DePaul University just announced that their dining services will be discontinuing the sale of hummus manufactured by Sabra, an Israeli brand known for its vocal and material support of Israeli Defense Forces. The administration has temporarily suspended the sale of Sabra products and will likely move towards permanently banning the brand from campus.
Both the blogger and the BDS group insist that, “The ultimate success of this modest divestment campaign isn’t that it resulted in the removal of a product from campus cafeteria shelves but, rather, that it has undoubtedly set the framework for future campaigns in college campuses throughout the United States.”

This statement is being handed out by some larger organization and it is only half true. Here is the statement sent to me by DePaul's Communications Specialist, Edmund Lawler:

“Hello Ms. Larson:

Here is the official statement issued by DePaul today:

DePaul University’s Dining Services has temporarily stopped the sale of Sabra hummus pending a review by the university’s Fair Business Practices Committee. The temporary suspension of the sale of the Sabra product was prompted by a request by the Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul. The organization expressed concern that the company that makes the product has been a voice of support for the ongoing Israeli occupation. In the meantime, Chartwells, DePaul’s dining services vendor, will make hummus and serve it in the dining halls."[1]

This is not finished and hopefully, though a small matter the DePaul College will understand that most of the BDS movement is calling for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State and will not bend to a small group of people who are seemingly returning to the early days of the 1930’s.

[1]Mr Lawler asked me to not include his information in my posting.
[2] Kishawi is the person who wrote the first announcement and he corrected his statement on the 22nd. However IPMN never connected to his correction. Now as far as I can tell no one is announcing that the boycott failed, which it did.


Pastor Bob said...

Interesting. I wonder if this means that the ISPN knows it is lying or that it is misinformed and does not do the necessary research?su

will spotts said...

Pastor Bob -
In response to your question about whether or not the IPMN knows it is lying: I personally doubt it.

Yes, the IPMN rather too frequently gives false information about PC(USA) policy, and about Israel and American Jewish groups. And yes, the IPMN has shown an appalling lack of concern with correcting their errors and false statements.

But I honestly suspect the IPMN consists in the main of "true believers" in their cause. (i.e. they seem to truly believe that Israel is what they claim - in short, that Israel is uniquely evil and that the Israeli / Palestinian conflict is singular among world problems - on a par with historic infamies like apartheid and Nazism. Equally, they seem to truly believe that justice for Palestinians can be arrived at via their extreme one-sidedness.)

I think most likely that they are simply delighted to imagine that "word is spreading" and "attitudes are changing". They genuinely want the rest of the world to share their beliefs and they see each little glimmer of boycott, divestment, sanctions, anti-Israel statements, rallies, etc. as a shining point of light.

In short, they greet such news with joy before they look at it.

Viola Larson said...

I doubt it also, but I am not sure that can be said about the whole BDS movement.

Pastor Bob said...

will: If folks believe that Israel is uniquely evil it is very clear that they don't get around very much. A quick trip to Tibet might offer some enlightenment. Or Pakistan, Egypt, Mexico (the drug wars) Belarus, and good old North Korea.


reformedpastor said...

Pastor Bob: Not to mention Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Burma, etc. I don't think there's any doubt that people like those in the IPMN believe that Israel is a unique focus of evil in the world, and for sure some of their allies in the anti-Israel movement believe that fervently. That's why they are accused of anti-Semitism: they hold Israel to a unique standard of morality that essentially seems to claim that if Jews (or at least Israelis) aren't perfect, they're satanic, all the while turning a blind eye (or even an approving one) toward the regimes you and I have mentioned.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

will spotts said...

Viola - Yes, I think you're right about some BDS supporters. If lying serves the 'greater cause', they're OK with it. That's not really my read of the IPMN.

Bob and Dave - I agree with you. But I have to point out that the IPMN is merely a continuation of a systemic, institutional PC(USA) mindset. (No - I don't mean Presbyterians in the pews or even a majority of pastors - but the offices, committees, etc. of the church.)

For example, from 2000 - June, 2004, the PNS ran over 90 stories on Israelis and Palestinians. During the same period, China and Iran each merited seven stories. Saudi Arabia got one. The considerable majority (2/3) of articles portrayed Israel negatively. None during that period could be said to portray Israel positively or Palestinians negatively. China and Saudi Arabia each received one negative mention. Iran got two negative mentions.

The Washington Office, the ACSWP, and several national denominational officials have similar public records.

Clearly there is a singularity of focus on Israel. And it is overwhelmingly negative. Clearly, within PC(USA) bureaucratic culture, the IPMN's view of Israel as uniquely problematic is shared.

Pastor Bob said...

How curious. It's OK to kill Presbyterians in Sudan and Pakistan and nary a mention. But Israel is clearly evil.