Re: Call for a cultural boycott of Israel

From: James Kreul (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Dec 04 2006 - 19:52:55 PST

On 12/4/06 8:15 PM, "Jim Flannery" <email suppressed> wrote:

> Does it have to be typed in CAPITAL LETTERS that the boycott we're
> talking about is supposed to be BY artists and not OF artists?

I have to admit that I only skimmed the original post when I came across it,
but it was interesting to read the original post after wading through the
subsequent posts. It was particularly interesting to read Berger's
follow-up comments on the nature of the project, and the decision making
process he would follow in different contexts. (Those who are repeatedly
asking the question "What would a boycott even mean?" might find that
section interesting.)

The subsequent discussion has had little if anything to do with the ideas
expressed in the original post, which is too bad.

I think many of us, for one reason or another, have chosen to participate or
not participate in some activity for principled reasons, whether or not we
call that decision a "boycott." Sometimes we do so with an idealistic hope
of affecting immediate change, sometimes we do so with a more realistic goal
of changing ourselves and those around us. I think if people were to
actually read Berger's hypothetical examples, his proposed decisions are not
that far off from the kinds of decisions many of us have probably made in
different contexts.

Those kinds of local, personal and context-dependent decisions, by the way,
are not mutually exclusive from or contradictory to engaging in local
politics and promoting change through legislators and so forth. In fact,
they seem to me to be one and the same.

But those advocating this position should also understand the different ways
the phrase "cultural boycott of Israel" will read in the current American
political context, which is too complicated to tease out in this email.
Unfortunately, in the current blue state/red state mentality of national
politics, there is very little room for (or apparent interest in) nuance.
The knee-jerk reaction to the word in this discussion is not unlike the
surface level discussions on American talk radio (be it from the left or the
right). If the advocates want to be broadly persuasive, they unfortunately
have to take into account that there is very little patience for a nuanced
description of a complicated problem. Neither Bill O'Riley nor Al Franken
would get past the word "boycott" and actually get to the decision making
process that Berger suggests.

[I'm guilty of over-generalizing about the discussion so far...I realize
that not everyone is American, and that not everyone has over-simplified

Meanwhile, re-reading the Berger follow-up has made me think about the issue
in new ways. Re-reading the subsequent discussion has only made me more
frustrated with the current state of Frameworks.

James Kreul
University of North Carolina--Wilmington
email suppressed

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.