What's this blog about?

As a result of a combination of factors, culminating in the shameful UCU boycott-in-waiting of Israel, I've grown alienated & silenced, working here in one of the UK's finest universities all the while feeling like a Boycotted British Academic, alone in facing some dilemmas of the moment. In this generally chilling environment, it's hard to speak out and be heard, and hear others...and I find myself writing this blog.

What's it about? At present, it seems to me like a rather tortured articulation of the state of being silenced & mute, beyond words; struggling for the right even to use them, for a voice which can still be heard. When it started, all those successive boycott motions ago, I'd hoped it would function as a blog forum of support & solidarity amongst academics similarly-situated to BBA, to help us break through the boycott movement's silencing strategies. That hope remains notwithstanding this silence... Perhaps it lives in trying to articulate beyond the filter of these coping mechanisms of old (denial, avoidance, withdrawal); by way of this labour of finding the words, this voice...
[A forum of sorts has also arisen in the blog's comments, in which others have adopted the BBA moniker in case of need (e.g.
and here exposing the racist hate speech which masquerades as UCU solidarity activism).]

Sunday, 2 March 2008

BDS (Disambiguation)

I just caught myself perfecting my last post - pointless, I know, but I can't seem to help myself, this incident not being an isolated one (in the unlikely event that anyone's noticed, I hope it's not too annoying!). Reading the post again, it occurred to me that some of you might not know what BDS stands for - those with the great luck not to work in academia at the present moment, thereby spared such coerced intimacy with this whole bonkers boycott (I had in mind certain friends & family members in this fortunate position...). So I thought I'd check to see what Google brought up, in case an additional link would be required to avoid confusion. It turns out my investigations merit their own post as what I found is something of a new definition and, with it, a bit of a chuckle - so here I am, sharing some cheer.

The acronym had previously caused me to laugh, at some earlier point in my encounter with the boycotters and their mode of argument (if it can be called that), the nature of which set off one of those sick associations:** but for a missing 'M' at the end, the acronym seems really rather apt in terms of capturing the (intellectual?) whipping these people seem to enjoy so!

The Google search brought more mirth for it turns out that BDS actually stands for quite a few things, in addition to Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (against Israel, of course, silently included in the acronym, without need even to specify a country beginning with the letter "I" - since this type of thinking has become so commonplace that one can now just automatically assume Israel is the target of such actions - duh!). Here you'll find all the possibilities for BDS.

This is what amused me:

Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) is a political term ... to describe a perceived tendency by some American liberals to blame President George W. Bush for virtually every ill in the world. Another noted facet of BDS-like behavior is that it may appear to be a merely reflexive opposition to any position advocated by Bush for no other reason than that Bush happens to be advocating it.

Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist who earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, defined BDS as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush"

While I hope it's patent that I'm no Bush fan myself, I rather enjoyed the obvious parallels between the varieties of derangement on display in both these phenomena denominated BDS. In the above formulation, substitute "Israel" for "Bush" (and often they are, insanely, as we know, what with W&M et al) and the paranormal in these two version of BDS seem one & the same, indistinguishable -- and just plain mad. Engaging in a bit of cross-fertilization here, I propose that henceforth, for our purposes, BDS should be disambiguated to mean Boycott Derangement Syndrome, for that just about gets to the essence of this boycott movement!


** The link is to the para in square brackets on how sick humour seems to have become a prime coping strategy through all this madness.


Raphael said...


As you may or may not know, the Green Party as just adopted a motion supporting BDS.

During the campaign against this motion, I also did some search on Google... Here is a post I sent on an internal Green e-list as a result. The point was to demonstrate that there was no difference between BDS and PACBI.

The point made by XXX that motion C05 is not about Academic and Cultural
Boycott, is, grammatically correct, but politically nonsense.

There are no frontiers between "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" (BDS)
which is what motion C05 calls for, and "Academic and Cultural Boycott of
Israel" (PACBI). The two movements are totally intertwinned and

If you type "BDS Israel" in Google:

The first Google result is the "Palestine BDS campaign", and the first link
under "ressources about the BDS campaign" is PACBI.

The second Google result is "Global BDS movement", and it boasts on its home
page the great achievement of having obtained the cancellation of the Peace
concert organized by One Voice. On the same page, there are links under
"Cultural Boycott", "Sports Boycott", and "Academic Boycott".

The third Google result is the Scottish PSC. On the page, there is a cartoon
by Latuff who won a second prize in Ahmadeinejad's Holocaust denial cartoon
competition (http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=931). There
is a lot to say about the Scottish PSC, they certainly advocate much more
than an economic boycott. They recently, among other things, hosted the
antisemite Gilad Atzmon (Derek Wall agrees that Atzmon is an antisemite, see
his blog, so I suppose that I can say so without being accused of "using
accusations of Israel to silence criticism of Israel") and even the SWP got
cold feet about being associated with the Scottish PSC:

The fourth Google result is BRICUP which is the UK Academic Boycott

The fifth result is Inminds.co.uk which is an islamic website which
advocates all sorts of boycotts (against Israel of course) and is
antisemitic. Here is a quote from the FAQ of the site: "the cancerous
zionist entity has got its tentacles hooked into numerous markets and
economies - sucking each one to nourish itself, but this is no excuse for us
not to do anything."
This is the campaign that we will be joining if we adopt Motion C05. *

Of course, for strategical reasons, the proposers of the motion have focused
on BDS rather than PACBI. Weeks after it was defeated politically, morally
and legally in the UCU, it would have been a strategical mistake to mention
PACBI. But, in terms of political realities, there is no difference.


Boycotted British Academic said...

Hi Raphael,

Welcome to this blog and thanks for your interesting comment. I'm distressed the BDS motion went through, obviously, but thanks so much for trying to counter it and for putting this information out.

I tend to vote Green at local/EU elections and kept thinking I'd come to regret this on account of worsening Green policy re I/P. And so it is...

Has it really come this? That I should come to regret a vote I should otherwise be proud of? That I should be put off casting my desired vote on account of this single issue? How depressing...

Be well,