On the de-chartering of the DSA BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group

Madison Area DSA’s Executive Committee condemns in the strongest possible terms the National Political Committee of DSA’s decision to de-charter the BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group. That the NPC would take this dramatic action to discipline an official working group composed of dedicated DSA members, while refusing to discipline a sitting Congressman with enormous power and a tenuous commitment to DSA, speaks volumes about their politics and priorities. 

The BDSWG was established by DSA’s National Convention, its highest decision-making body, in 2019. Numerous chapters and DSA members reiterated their support for the BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group throughout the fall and winter of 2021 and early 2022. The NPC didn’t acknowledge this outpouring as it was happening and continues to ignore the will of numerous chapters and DSA members with its actions now. The NPC reveals its total disdain for the will of the membership at large by de-chartering this working group with the smallest possible majority in a 9-8 vote. As socialists whose hopes for a better world lie in the self-activity of the grassroots and the rank and file, we find this profoundly despicable. 

The NPC claims to have made its decision out of a desire to uphold democratic norms and enforce accountability. But it is clear that de-chartering the working group was a politically motivated attack on a dissenting group through procedural means. We are deeply concerned about the precedent set by this decision. For a democratic, socialist organization to thrive, discussion, debate, and disagreement must be allowed. When dissent from leadership is met with harassment, discipline, and dissolution, the only purpose can be to stifle the very openness that produces the best politics. Similar tactics have destroyed other socialist organizations. 

We fear that there will be serious repercussions to the organization as a result of this decision. It is likely that the NPC’s decision will cause irreparable harm to our organization’s relationship to other Palestine liberation and solidarity organizations and activists, including activists in our own ranks. We also anticipate that many DSA members will choose to leave the organization, unwilling to continue under its banner after this. While this might be a happy byproduct for those interested in cultivating a more politically homogeneous group, we find it deeply regrettable. Over the course of the last five years, members of Madison Area DSA have worked hard to rebuild a thriving, active chapter, full of dedicated activists. It is frustrating that the NPC’s conduct might cost us members.

Finally, while this conduct from the NPC would be distressing in any context, the timing of this particular decision is especially upsetting. Israeli Apartheid Week – a global week of action denouncing apartheid – begins today, Monday, March 21, just three days after the NPC announced its elimination of our organization’s BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group. This decision also comes at a moment when the world’s response to Ukrainian suffering and struggle to defend its self-determination has so many of us reflecting on how differently the world responds to Palestinian pain and resistance. At precisely the moment when our organization should be coming together to resist imperialism everywhere and raise consciousness around these inconsistencies, the NPC divides us and attempts to fold a working group that was already engaged in that work.   

We call on the NPC to reverse this decision and lift its ban on leaders of the BDSWG holding other leadership positions. 

We offer our solidarity to the members of the BDSWG.