Culture, Justice

Meet the Change: The Yes Men

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The AJWS-Avodah partnership launches a new series “Meet the Change” this Wednesday, featuring big time changemakers and offering chances to meet other agitators of like mind. At this launch, watch a screening of the Yes Men’s film The Yes Men Fix the World followed by a private reception with Mike and Andy — the Yes Men themselves. All the details are here.
Oh, and you can tell them thanks for sticking up for Jewish values and supporting an occupation-free State of Israel. Predictably, the typical Jews barked at them for their moral consistency. I say bravo.

9 thoughts on “Meet the Change: The Yes Men

  1. Oh, the brave Yes Men, pulling their film from the Jerusalem film festival. What a courageous political stand! Not! A pretentious political gesture which missed the point, since the Israeli audience that will consider whether there’s something wrong with the occupation tends to be the people who go to the film festival. Nothing like a boycott to show up the stupidity of the boycotters.

  2. @Rebecca-
    If you read their letter it’s clear that this is not a boycott against Israeli citizens which is what you make it out to be. What’s more, they were urged to boycott by Israeli friends. It also sounds like you’re saying all boycotts and therefore all boycotters are stupid… that’s pretty harsh and ignores some incredibly successful boycotts. But, you know, nothing like ignoring facts to help ignore the virtues of political foes.
    The Yes Men have made an international name for themselves through their incredibly effective (and hysterical) brand of social activism/performance art. It seems, like KFJ eluded to, that their boycott stems from a place of moral consistency–how could they stand up for justice and vocally and actively critique the occupation if they participate in the festival? Also, I don’t think it’s their goal, based on their letter, to change the mind of the Israeli populace through their films. Their hope seems to be to show the Israeli populace that the US citizenry does not support their occupation and settlement policies (which I’m not sure is true). It feels like you’re just having a visceral reaction (like so many people seemed to over a Jewlicious, if you looked at that link) without actually looking at the substance of what is being advocated here. You can disagree with it for any number of reasons, but just because you do doesn’t make it stupid–it doesn’t even make it a bad idea.

  3. And, I was just thinking while I was cooking, we really can’t put it past them that this is all part of staging a prank that they pull in Israel while the festival is going on or whatever. You never know, they’ve managed to do some pretty amazing stuff so I wouldn’t put it past them at all.

  4. Rebecca, find the core of their protest: an occupation-free State of Israel. I agree. I like it. I support it. It’s a grand idea. It really is. They chose a film festival to deliver that message, so what? If no one was harmed and no one deprived (I don’t consider missing a film as deprived) then what’s the big deal? They made headlines communicating a message I can back: no more occupation.
    As to the boycott strategy, BDS advocates have acknowledged (at least to me privately) that they don’t have the ability to actually force Israel financially to end the occupation. What they hope to gain is press that the occupation itself is unpopular abroad. In this, the Yes Men have succeeded. They have shown their own dislike of the occupation and have helped raise a ton of awareness that they dislike the occupation. Mission accomplished. That increased awareness will hopefully snowball and the unpopularity of the occupation will spell more and more dire consequences for Israel should Bibi Netanyahu keep dragging his feet.
    Hopefully, Israel will end a self-damaging occupation before boycotts, sanctions or divestment actually hurt her financially. I do not wish the country or her citizens harm, but its threat could very well help politicians make the hard choices sooner. Like, now.

  5. Supporting an end to the occupation and supporting boycotts are not the same thing. A lot of the criticism directed at them for participating in the boycott is about participating in the boycott.
    I really doubt it serves the interests of peace to belittle objections any more than it serves the interests of peace to target One Voice or Seeds of Peace, both of which have been attacked by the BDS movement. There’s a clear difference between strategies of bringing people together and strategies of tearing them apart.
    Regardless of the cause, a boycott is about coercion. It really can be problematic to try to coerce members of historically oppressed peoples.

  6. Heh. I love it when y’all put words in our mouths. We, the uh… “typical Jews,” are so easy to dismiss that way. Never mind that the BDS movement will in no way advance the cause of justice in any way shape or form. Our writer merely called for a more even handed approach to dealing with Israel/Palestine issues, one that does not merely demonize one side. Allow me to quote from the post by wendy in furs:

    There is certainly another way to do things in Israel/Palestine, and that is what we must fight for, however difficult our task. We must eschew the otherwise well intentioned simple minded sloganeering and empty gestures of the Yes Men and the self righteous fools behind the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. We must appeal to the Palestinians to seek the way of a negotiated peace and to elevate new leaders that will unite them for a better future for them, for us and for all our children.

    Some bark…

  7. CK, I don’t believe the Yes Men demonized Israel at all. This is what they said about their motives:

    A boycott—cultural and economic—is one way to send the message to the Israeli public that things aren’t normal, and that things need to change. Especially if the message is sent not in blind anger, but with consideration, hope, and even love, it might have a chance of coming across.

    Demonizing? Pshaw. Who’s putting words in whose mouth?

  8. How can the boycott message be sent “with consideration, hope, and love”? The purpose of the boycott is to cut off cultural and academic ties with Israel. This is a hostile act, not a loving one. Isolation is not love. I am also opposed to the occupation. But I do not believe that the way to end the occupation is for me or other academics to cut off our ties with our Israeli colleagues.
    When I read statements on the PACBI website or other sites of academics advocating the boycott of Israel, I don’t see any love there – I see hatred and even anti-semitism. I see people who think that Israel should not exist as a state. Unfortunately, I also know some of these people personally, and their blindness to seeing anything good about Israel prevents them from actually having any effect upon Israel’s actions. Israelis rightly ignore them.
    The call for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel is immoral, because it punishes people who are not guilty of anything, and it is ineffective, because it just pushes Israelis into a corner. It is also stupid, because among the Israelis most opposed to the occupation are many academics. How do you think they feel when they hear that their supposed “friends” overseas are calling for them to be boycotted?
    I was in Israel this summer, as I mentioned, when the Yes Men decided to remove their film from the Jerusalem film festival. As far as I could tell, their little gesture did nothing whatsoever except raise scorn against them. It was seen rightly as the pretentious action it was.
    And no, I don’t get my ideas from Jewlicious, which I hardly ever read. I get them from my own analysis and consideration of the boycott demands.

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