“It depends?” [Sarah] Schulman responded, her tone seesawing between the declarative and interrogative modes. “You know, sometimes—I don’t know enough about Hamas to give you a complete, intelligent analysis of Hamas. But there are people who get into all kinds of movements because they have particular needs. And I don’t—let me say it this way: All over the world there is conflict between religion and politics. In the United States we are unable to separate religion and politics, and that’s true in Israel, it’s true in the Arab world, it’s true all over the world. Do I think that there should be religious governments? No, because I’m not in favor of that. I’m not a religious person, and I see it as a negative force in the world. But if people elect, democratically elect a religious government, that’s their government. That would be my answer.”
Here was the BDS movement in a nutshell. In a room filled with progressive activists, an American academic with unimpeachable progressive credentials claimed she didn’t know enough about Hamas to criticize its views on matters of gender and sexual orientation. She had heard somewhere that Hamas was “democratically elected”—apparently Schulman had missed the news about how, the last time Hamas seized power in Gaza, it was via defenestration—and that sufficed to render the group above judgment. Acknowledging the obvious about Hamas would have demoralized the BDS faithful gathered at the LGBT Center that night, and what sort of religious movement would want to do that?