BDS Wonderland

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.

“How do you know I’m mad?”, said Alice.

“You must be”, said the cat. “Or you wouldn’t have come here.”

The text of a resolution recently passed at the Conference of the US-based National Women’s Studies Association in support of Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel says, in part, “As feminist scholars, activists, teachers and public intellectuals we recognize the interconnectedness of systemic forms of oppression. In the spirit of this intersectional perspective, we cannot overlook the injustice and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, perpetrated against Palestinians and other Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, within Israel and in the Golan Heights, as well as the colonial displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba.”

How can it be that the NWSA has decided to join the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions movement?

One of the pro-BDS agitator-members said it more simply, ““We’re basically redefining feminism and putting solidarity with Palestine into that definition of what it means to be a feminist.”


We all know from the many articles and references littering the media, and the endless images of Israeli-women-in-the-army pictures circulating around Facebook, that something is terribly wrong here.

How can it be that the NWSA condemns sexual violence against women in Israel – where abortion is legal and rape is illegal – but says nothing about women in Palestine are subject to “Honor Killings” – where abortion is illegal and rape is legal?

It made me check out the exact state of women’s rights in the Middle East and I discovered the following detail:



Rights Arab World Israel
Vote X (most countries)
Drive X (some countries)
Date X (some countries)
Kiss in Public X
Public homosexual lifestyle X
Equal Inheritance X (most countries)
Free to choose own partner X
Elected to Parliament X (some countries)
No legal Male Guardianship X (some countries)
Sex out of marriage without Jail X
Abortion is legal X
Subject to legally sanctioned ‘Honor Killing’ X



A table like this, which feminists and academics of women’s studies actually really know, drives them bonkers. It only inflames and hardens attitudes – and not just because a passionate belief never lets facts get in the way of conviction. What is really going on?

  • The real agenda driving the NWSA view of Israel/Palestine seems to be a traditional hard-left anti-colonialist anti-Israel position. Israel is the last vestige of western colonialism in an Arab sea, and by the hard-left definition that colonialism is the root of 20th Century evil, Israel has no right to exist. Full stop. Forget the 5000 year Jewish connection to the land – that is just a myth or just plainly irrelevant to the inherently and vastly greater evil of the colonial enterprise.
  • Core agitators are members of that ever-expanding and sinister club of ‘anti-zionism as anti-semitism’. To quote one of the BDS supporters, “it (the resolution) reflects broader changes within the NWSA … and the challenges it waged against white supremacy [and neoliberalism] which went hand in hand with Zionist influence in the women’s movement and women’s and feminist scholarship.”

How can an organisation of academics and intellectuals let that pass for accepted comment? Well, they do nowadays, and the NWSA is not alone in making ‘an exception’ for Israel and it’s ‘Jewish supporters’.

These comments are now normalised because members of the Swedish parliament attend rallies that call for Death to the Jews.

Or Palestinian suicide bombing is normalised as being understood as the logical outcome of occupation.

Israeli women are actually the epitome of everything feminism believes and stands for.

Inverted reality? No, just hard-core beliefs getting in the way of measurable experience.

When we go to the movies we ‘suspend our disbelief’ at what we are seeing. In other words we suspend judgement at the implausibility of the narrative. I guess the NWSA, and the other academic associations that support BDS must go to the movies a lot.

As Alice reminded us: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,”.

About the Author
Co-convenor of the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue. Director of Blended Learning Group (Emotional Intelligence and Leadership training) Director of Bowerbase (IT start-up) Director of Soldales Pacific (Water technology start-up linking Israel and Australia).
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