Here is one way of gauging the appeal of the BDS — boycott, divestment, and sanctions —movement against Israel. Over at the Times of Israel, Jason Langner recently reported, with concern that the official Facebook page of the Palestinian BDS National Committee now was on its way to having 100,000 “likes.” Indeed, it has now reached that milestone.
I have written with concern about the BDS movement frequently here. Yet there is something to Mitchell Bard’s contention that the actual success of the movement, especially in the United States has been underwhelming.
One hundred thousand sounds like a big number. But it sounds less big when you consider that the BDS movement, including its Facebook page, has been around since 2005, is allegedly on a roll, yet has fewer likes over the course of the history of its page than National Geographic Magazine garnered in the past 30 days (270, 405, according to Quintly, a social media analytics site). Over a similar period, the Facebook page of “The Official Grumpy Cat” the spokescat for Friskies, has added over 136,000 new likes to its 7 million. This startling development has, as far as I can tell, had no impact on the international cat community.
Perhaps you will have the patience to scroll all the way through the Quintly rankings to reach BDS. I gave up at the page ranked 6860 (bear in mind that Quintly does not list every page), “I Will Go Slightly Out of My Way to Step on a Crunchy Looking Leaf,” which has over 1,680,000 likes. Now that’s a movement.
But perhaps it’s fair to compare BDS only to other pages labeled as “causes” by Facebook. Here, 100,000 likes is certainly more impressive, creeping up on the moribund Occupy Wall Street (179, 287) but still way behind the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive, Australia (over 213,000), devoted to the problem of dog homelessness down under, and a little behind Global Action for Israel (139,000), an anti-BDS group whose page been around for just a year and a half.
Of course, Facebook likes are not an index of power. For example, the 1.2 million who had by the end of January 2010 clicked the “like button” for the Save Darfur campaign on Facebook, were not prepared to give much for it—the organizers raised eight cents per like. But even by this measure, we need not be alarmed by what BDS has been able to do to this point. It is wise to be vigilant about BDS. Its action on college campuses, the piece of the campaign with which I am most familiar, seems to have done nothing to diminish support for Israel among young American so far (it is higher than it was when the campaign began), but I would not be at all surprised if it is having a subtle effect on how students perceive Zionism or being pro-Israel. But as for BDS being a social media juggernaut, I’ll worry when they catch up to “Norse Mythology” (242,000). I mean I hear that’s making a comeback.