Israel Worldcon Bid Being Explored

A Worldcon bid for Israel late in the next decade is under consideration, led by Gadi Evron.

During the Dublin Worldcon Staff Meeting earlier this month, fans encouraged Evron to begin an exploratory committee for a prospective Israeli Worldcon bid. The bid was symbolically launched when James Bacon gave Evron 20 Euros for a presupport, followed by Ben Yalow and others.

Evron tells me, “We launched an exploratory committee. I am still checking fandom’s pulse on the matter. That said, I am fully committed and we are discussing the late 20s with an eye for 2027.”

James Bacon and Gadi Evron. Photo by Colette H. Fozard

143 thoughts on “Israel Worldcon Bid Being Explored

  1. AFAIK, Egypt has the largest fandom in the arab world, but I guess it is dwarfed by the Israeli. Would not want to go there either after the destruction of the arab spring. Qatar gives jail for sodomy and have severe restrictions on religion. It’s a nope for me too.

  2. Oh.
    Oh my.

    I’m… obviously somewhat biased; sure I’d love a Worldcon a stone’s throw from home.
    But I do have many, many questions.

    I’m not seeing much mention of this yet in public Israeli forums. I look forward (kinda, in a heart-wrenching sorta way) to seeing how those discussions play out.

    …I do wish that “taking the pulse” involved at least some mention of the obvious issue that’s going to have people’s pulses racing. (OTOH, to be fair, wherever they’re at, that’s a hell of a thing to try and casually slide into a press release.)

  3. I’ve been surprised that the “boycott of Israel” has become an entry point of this discussion. I expected there would be people who had objections to actions by the Israeli government or military (as there are objections about the US, China, or other countries). But the policy of a boycott of Israel per se originated with the Arab League and countries that wanted to annihilate Israel (and have waged wars trying to do it). Over the past couple of decades groups of academics and celebrities have echoed the call (sometimes opposed by various stars and writers, including J.K. Rowling), however, I can never hear that phrase without thinking what’s behind it.

  4. Mike Glyer on May 18, 2019 at 4:17 pm said:

    I’ve been surprised that the “boycott of Israel” has become an entry point of this discussion. I expected there would be people who had objections to actions by the Israeli government or military (as there are objections about the US, China, or other countries). But the policy of a boycott of Israel per se originated with the Arab League and countries that wanted to annihilate Israel (and have waged wars trying to do it)

    That’s rather like saying the idea of a trade war with China originated with British policy on selling opium. It’s relevant for the general context of the history of relations between nations but doesn’t demonstrate whether modern policy is wise or ethical particularly if it is quite different in nature.

    For example a targetted suspension of arms sales to Israel could be characterised as a species of boycott (as was done by Spain and the UK I think on at least one occasion). To say that such a move originated in the 1940s Arab League boycott wouldn’t make a lot of sense, just because they were both kinds of boycotts of Israel.

  5. Camestros Felapton: That’s not even a slightly persuasive selection of apples and oranges. Try again.

  6. Agree with Cora that a lot can change between now and 2027.

    I would also like to know more about the Sabbath/Shabbat issue. Is that just something a theocratic fringe pushes for or is it widely enforced policy? Although, again, a change in government could change this — in either direction.

    Is anyone else aiming for a 2027 bid yet?

    @Standback

    I’d be interested to know how that discussion plays out when/if it happens, if you feel comfortable sharing the highlights.

    @Steve Davidson

    That’s not very helpful if you’re not going to be specific.

  7. Camestros Felapton: So did you add that second paragraph after I posted by comment, or am I hallucinating?

  8. “But the policy of a boycott of Israel per se originated with the Arab League and countries that wanted to annihilate Israel…”

    No. There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in that statement. The boycott is part of the BDS-movement which is an international campaign that started in 2005 and has no connection to the Arab League. Actually the opposite is more true, as there is no unified boycott from The Arab League, since several Gulf-states ended it already in 1994.

    This is a separate grassroots campaign modeled after the anti-apartheid movement. I do hope you have less problems with that background.

  9. @Mike Glyer

    The second paragraph of Cam’s comment isn’t there in my email, so I’m guessing it was an edit addition. Can’t say I know whether he did that before or after you commented, though. 🙂

  10. Mike Glyer on May 18, 2019 at 5:08 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: So did you add that second paragraph after I posted by comment, or am I hallucinating?

    I did edit in a second paragraph, I didn’t see that it was after your reply.

  11. Well, I haven’t the foggiest idea why that ended up in the mod net. Try again! Cam’s comment only has one paragraph in the notification thingy, so I’m guessing the second paragraph was an edit.

  12. Hampus Eckerman: A boycott of Israel continues to be advocated by related entities like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 member nations including nearly all the ones that were part of the Arab League. They issued a position statement as recently as 2015.

  13. Mike Glyer on May 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: That’s not even a slightly persuasive selection of apples and oranges. Try again.

    OK, trying again.

    Your example is an example of the genetic fallacy, to quote Wikipedia: “that is based solely on someone’s or something’s history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. ”
    That the Arab League enacted a boycott of Israel (which partially still exists in some states) to attempt to prevent Israel as an independent state coming into being, is, as I said relevant in terms of broader context but tells us very little about the right or wrongs (or viability or chance of success) of different boycott campaigns. Specifically
    1. the boycott of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank (as called for by the Palestinian Authority)
    2. the BDS movement (as referenced by Hampus) which is broader in scope and demands but which does not (unlike the Arab League boycott you referenced) call for the end of Israel as a nation.
    Those are the two boycotts that have arisen in the discussion. They both pertain to objections to “actions by the Israeli government or military” that you expected to see appear in the discussion. The cultural boycott of the BDS campaign has particular relevance at the moment because of the Eurovision Song Contest.
    My posts have been related to specific legislative moves by the current government of Israel that conflates boycotts of settlements with more general boycotts.

  14. Camestros Felapton: I wondered, because if I’d seen the second paragraph I wouldn’t have dismissed the comments as apples and oranges.

  15. Mike Glyer:

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also states that their position is support of the two state-solution, so I fail to see how you could connect that to the “annihilation” of Israel.

  16. Qatar gives jail for sodomy and have severe restrictions on religion. It’s a nope for me too.

    Qatar getting the World Cup is a terrible decision likely facilitated by massive bribes. I wouldn’t want it to get a Worldcon but was simply considering it capable of one.

    The BDS movement becoming a significant force for change is recent. The efforts by Israel and U.S. states to punish those who support BDS is recent. I don’t buy the notion that because the Arab League called for a boycott in 1945 BDS is the same thing and is thus anti-Semitic in origin.

  17. Hampus Eckerman: Although the OIC put out a position supporting a two-state solution, 30 of their 57 members do not recognize the nation of Israel which perpuates a longstanding level of hostility to the country’s existence.

  18. Absolutely. Just as the Israeli and US refusal to recognize Palestine perpetuates the hostility. Perhaps they want to annihilate the Palestinians.

  19. Hampus Eckerman: “Perhaps they want to annihilate the Palestinians.” This statement comes at a fork in the argument where it should be functioning as an attempt to redefine my statement as absurd. While I hope that idea (with respect to Palestinians) is absurd, when you consider the antics of our current Commander-in-Chief, it’s easy to see why the US enjoys the reputation it has today.

  20. Mike Glyer:

    No, it is not about making your statement absurd. The possibility of a Palestinian state has more or less ceased to exist. 49% of the Israelis support deportation of all Arabs from Israel and many ministers are talking openly about when this might become a possibility.

    Why I bring this up is because all discussions always focus on Israel and its right to exist. Never on Palestines right to exist as a viable state with a right to defend its borders.

    If they aren’t allowed to fight to keep their land, if they are shot when they are demonstrating at the borders, if we event choose to attack their explicitly non-violent movements such as the boycott, then aren’t we just standing by and waiting for their annihilation, hoping they would just be quiet about it so we can have a nice convention?

  21. Silvaubrey: I live in Southeast Asia and I can tell you that all the major cities have the capacity to hold a World Con. Singapore has it all. Bangkok. Kuala Lumpur. Want something more exciting? Have it in Bali! Great weather, food, people and the SFF fandom will be ready. It is WorldCon not West/NorthCon.

    I would be exceedingly interested in attending a Worldcon in Bangkok. However, locations with strong restrictions on human rights — for instance, countries where my LGBTQ friends would be considered lawbreakers and possibly arrested and punished or imprisoned — would pretty much be a no-go zone for me.

    While the existence of excellent facilities is certainly important in determining the suitability of a location for a Worldcon, the primary consideration is whether there is an organized, active group of local fans who are fully-invested in the idea and willing to turn out in large numbers to raise funds for, work at the preparation for, and run, the con.

    And, unlike the big for-profit media cons where volunteers work in exchange for free admission, everyone buys a membership to Worldcon. If it comes off in the black, there is sometimes a full or partial reimbursement of membership fees, but not of accommodation costs. So the local fans have to be willing to do all that work for free, while putting their own money into attending.

    Once that exists, there are a lot of fans around the world who would be willing to help. But since global fans have to spend their own money to get to that other location for meetings and prep work, it’s not really feasible for a Worldcon to be set up from afar without a dedicated local group of fans to do the necessary on-site preparations.

    So that is what I’d like to know; Do any of these places have a dedicated establishment of fandom which is eager and willing to take on the project of hosting a Worldcon?

  22. Mike Glyer: But the policy of a boycott of Israel per se originated with the Arab League and countries that wanted to annihilate Israel (and have waged wars trying to do it)… I can never hear that phrase without thinking what’s behind it.

    I am going to give a hard side-eye to any argument which says that opposition to Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic.

  23. @Steve Davidson:

    I am terribly disappointed and upset by some of the rank BS I’ve just read here and suggest that at least some of you go and do your homework before writing anything more.

    Pot, meet kettle.

  24. I think there are some legitimate questions that an Israeli bid would have to address about free access for all who would wish to attend. But even before that, I would question whether they have a sufficiently large base of active fans to run a con.

    Fandom really doesn’t need another big controversy to promote factionalism and bad feelings, especially one where, unlike the Hugos, the bone of contention is unrelated to fandom and beyond our control.

    So I’d prefer that Israeli fans continue building their fandom — one large con per year is insufficient experience — and wait for the political situation to be happier. There are plenty of other interesting places the con hasn’t yet been that can host one in the meantime.

  25. Moshe – are you seriously telling me that Israel’s iCon – which has over 250 volunteers and hosts thousands for each year’s 3-day event has less experience than Spokane – which only has a yearly event as well and is smaller, by the way?

    Saying they need more experience is laughable when you compare to past WorldCon hosts. They’re qualified from an experience point of view – no less so than other past sites.

  26. The Spokane bid was not exactly homegrown; it was a fusion with Seattle people who hadn’t been able to get a usable deal for facilities in their hometown. (I’ve heard comments that this reflects solely on the committee; considering that a Boston bid was aborted before formally announcing due to no usable facilities being available at a workable price, I have my doubts.) And, like any North American Worldcon, it accreted talent due to the wide range of people with no language or political difficulties and with economical travel available. (e.g., 2 of the board were from Phoenix; one knew my work from San Antonio (which I did remotely from Boston after being recruited from Portland (OR) and recruited me). The people who run Worldcons tend to have experience working many different conventions, including other Worldcons; Moshe is quite right that working the same large regional-equivalent each year simply isn’t enough.

  27. As for the bid itself, I hope the people considering it will consider the genuine concerns of people around human rights and the policies of the current far-right government of Israel.

    Why should they do that? First of all, as the recent election results show, most Israelis support the policies of their government, and as the less recent election results show, almost half of American voters support the actions of their own government too. But even if they don’t, opposing government policies doesn’t mean that people must choose to bring all of their activities to a standstill.

    I know that’s what people exercised over an issue important to them would like, but as we see, most recently in the Australian elections, people get really tired of being told what they should feel and how they should behave and what they should value. They’re still going to work, go on vacation, shop, drive cars, and do all the normal business of daily living even if the coral reefs are bleaching and migrants are being kept out.

    Now maybe fandom represents a different demographic, and they will refuse to vote for Israel. But just as in the Puppy kerfuffle, people can join WSFS for the sole purpose of voting, so we could get into a nomination fight where supporters and opponents of the Israeli bid try to get members for their side. To be safe, start researching E Pluribus Hugo for site selection now!

  28. “But just as in the Puppy kerfuffle, people can join WSFS for the sole purpose of voting, so we could get into a nomination fight where supporters and opponents of the Israeli bid try to get members for their side. To be safe, start researching E Pluribus Hugo for site selection now!”

    Yes. I was thinking about this too and I absolutely think this will happen.

  29. How? EPH provides some help against block nominations, but don’t (AFAICT) affect the final vote; Worldcon bidders nominate themselves, so the final vote is the only stage.

  30. There won’t be any EPH solution to voting campaigns outside fandom, no. But there surely will be vote canvassing among people never having had an interest in SFF before.

  31. M.A. Rothman on May 19, 2019 at 4:43 pm said:

    Moshe – are you seriously telling me that Israel’s iCon – which has over 250 volunteers and hosts thousands for each year’s 3-day event has less experience than Spokane – which only has a yearly event as well and is smaller, by the way?

    Fair point and at this stage the Israeli bid can’t be judged in terms of experience — that would depend on the nature of an actual bid with details about the people involved, location and venue.

    Given the people we know are involved in this exploratory stage, I think it is safe to assume that they’ll look at those issues seriously.

  32. I know that’s what people exercised over an issue important to them would like, but as we see, most recently in the Australian elections, people get really tired of being told what they should feel and how they should behave and what they should value.

    Yup. I was mightly sick of the Liberal party telling me how I should behave and what I should value. However, I’m also pretty sure that had very little to do with what we are discussing in this thread.

  33. However, I’m also pretty sure that had very little to do with what we are discussing in this thread.

    You said you hope that people thinking about bidding for Worldcon in Israel will consider their government’s human-rights policies. That “hope” can be heard to carry a veiled threat of what will happen if they do not do that. There have been many recent elections where people ignored threats about the bad things that would ensue if they voted “wrong”.

    For site-selection EPH, I don’t mean use the same algorithm, I mean that there are ways to devise voting systems that prevent ballot stuffing by new members. For example, we could provide extra weight for the votes of fans who physically attend Worldcon, and we could weight the votes of fans by how long they have been members of WSFS.

  34. There are already barriers to site selection getting brigaded. Firstly, to vote in site selection, I’m pretty sure you need to be a member — so they’d need to buy two memberships to do it, one for the 2025 Worldcon and one for 2027 site selection, which is expensive. Secondly, you can’t just do it online, so there’s that extra element of effort that will cut out a lot of the casual stick-it-to-the-whoevers.

    I’m not saying it can’t happen, but it’s not quite the same as going after the Hugos. And I’m not sure there’s quite the reward that getting a bunch of books on the ballot represents, either. “Yaaaay, a convention I have no intention of going to is being held in a specific place!” Hmmm.

  35. Hyman Rosen on May 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm said:

    However, I’m also pretty sure that had very little to do with what we are discussing in this thread.

    You said you hope that people thinking about bidding for Worldcon in Israel will consider their government’s human-rights policies. That “hope” can be heard to carry a veiled threat of what will happen if they do not do that.

    “a veiled threat” OK, so you just want to lie about what I said.

  36. I’m trying to figure out what Cam could possibly threaten someone with… sincere disappointment? A blog post of at least one thousand words? A tweet? An amusing computer-generated image, possibly involving a cat? A series of posts about beer where if you took the first letters of each beer name it would eventually spell out “human rights”? None of it seems particularly terrifying. Or threatening.

    To be honest, the idea that an ordinary, democratic election between ordinary, democratic political parties involves threats of any kind just smells like a particularly silly persecution complex to me. The parties are all supposed to be telling the voters why they would be great and the other parties wouldn’t be (preferably more of the former than the latter, but negative campaigning is a thing). If you can’t cope with the “other side” running an ordinary campaign without feeling threatened, I’m pretty sure their campaign isn’t the problem.

  37. Meredith: Camestros might do any of those, or tell them, “Go away or I shall taunt you a second time.”

  38. @Mike Glyer

    Perhaps he’ll really up the stakes and ask them about the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

  39. You said you hope that people thinking about bidding for Worldcon in Israel will consider their government’s human-rights policies. That “hope” can be heard to carry a veiled threat of what will happen if they do not do that.

    I hope you’re kidding.

  40. Meredith on May 20, 2019 at 5:59 pm said:
    To be honest, the idea that an ordinary, democratic election between ordinary, democratic political parties involves threats of any kind just smells like a particularly silly persecution complex to me.

    Also a way of invalidating one side of opinions. You’ll note he cited the US presidential election and Trump getting a large minority of votes as validating the view of his supporters. He then cites the Australian election were Labor also won a large minority of votes as *invalidating* the views of their supporters. It’s very much a heads I win, tails you lose mode of argument.

  41. Utah this year passed a law prohibiting the abortion of fetuses with Down Syndrome. I hope the people running Spikecon (the 2019 Nasfic) will consider the genuine concerns of people around women’s rights and the policies of the current far-right government of Utah.

  42. @Camestros

    Yep. I also noted that continuing to exist in society was implied to be the result/an indication of indifference to/disagreement with leftwing policy rather than, um, just what people have to do. Which I’m a bit puzzled about. Possibly it was unintentional?

  43. @Hyman Rosen:

    For site-selection EPH, I don’t mean use the same algorithm, I mean that there are ways to devise voting systems that prevent ballot stuffing by new members. For example, we could provide extra weight for the votes of fans who physically attend Worldcon, and we could weight the votes of fans by how long they have been members of WSFS.

    I’d hope you’re kidding about this, but it sounds like you’re serious. Either of those would require substantial alterations to the WSFS constitution, and would impose an intolerable burden on the people charged with counting the ballots; they’d need to assemble in one place information much of which is unlikely to exist any longer. (MCFI threw out the 1971 Hugo ballots quite a few years ago, and probably would have thrown them out long before if there hadn’t been a fannish building to store them in; I wouldn’t expect any reliable records of Worldcon membership (let alone attendance) from the 1970’s or 1980’s, and a lot of people have been going to Worldcons that long.) Note also that the rules mandate counting at the selecting Worldcon, in the presence of two tellers from each bid; figuring out in real time how to bias each ballot would mean the result being known some time after the end of the convention. (EPH works because the nominating deadline is 5-6 months before the convention, and because all of the evidence is on the ballots rather than moldering in people’s basements or in dumps.) Note also that any such provision would probably disenfranchise a lot of the people who would work on the convention — how many of them have been able to get even to Helsinki or London or Dublin, let alone the other hemisphere (where most Worldcons have been held)?

  44. Hyman Rosen: You said you hope that people thinking about bidding for Worldcon in Israel will consider their government’s human-rights policies. That “hope” can be heard to carry a veiled threat of what will happen if they do not do that. There have been many recent elections where people ignored threats about the bad things that would ensue if they voted “wrong”.

    This is an appalling faux accusation, and you should apologize to Camestros for making it.

    If you can’t engage in this discourse without pulling this sort of underhanded, manipulative crap, you should probably consider abstaining from the discussion.

     
    Hyman Rosen: Utah this year passed a law prohibiting the abortion of fetuses with Down Syndrome. I hope the people running Spikecon (the 2019 Nasfic) will consider the genuine concerns of people around women’s rights and the policies of the current far-right government of Utah.

    And now you’re just concern-trolling. Congratulations, you’ve just destroyed any credibility you might have had in this discussion. 🙄

  45. @Chip:

    An addendum to your point: the Dublin Worldcon will be in the EU, meaning the GDPR applies, which might make it impossible for a future Worldcon to know whether I was a member of this year’s Worldcon unless I told them. And Hyman’s entire proposal assumes bad faith on the part of at least some site selection voters, so almost requires evidence beyond me asserting “I was a member of Constellation, Magicon, Noreascon 3, and the Millennium Philcon.”

  46. My personal thinking here (not just for the budding Israel bid) is that it’s relatively likely that people will weigh a whole slew of factors into ranking the various bids when voting for site selection.

    Things I weigh in include “which of these am I most likely to be able to get to”, “do I know anyone who would be illegal[*] there”, “is the location embrolied in something I really don’t like”, “what’s the weather like”, “can I do other cool stuff while there”, “do I know anyone nearby”, and probably more factors that I can’t think of, right now.

    I would sincerely hope that people putting together a bid would consider this, because it strikes directly at the viability of the bid. How large an effect it is probably varies (and is definitely a matter for debate). Not to make them stop making the bid, but to actually get a better chance of understanding how large/small a venue and likelihood of being awarded a WorldCon.

    [*] Like, say, if there was a bid to choose from, in the city of Hypothesistown, in the country of Exemplia, where anything but a bisexual[+] orientation is not legal. Or if there’s actual laws on the book for jailing people of the E.G faith. Or possibly a whole slew of other things.

    [+] I am not aware of any country that mandate bisexuality, I picked it as an example because it should make it clear that I am listing hypotheticals.

  47. The people outraged because an Israel Worldcon bid is being scrutinized over the country’s human rights policies must have missed all the people doing the same about United States Worldcon bids over a president who enacts Muslim bans, cozies up to “very fine” racists and abducts children from their families because they legally sought asylum at the border.

    As an American I can’t blame any Worldcon site voter who’d prefer they be held anywhere but here until Donald Dog Whistle leaves office.

  48. I really appreciate Vicki and Chip explaining why certain policies wouldn’t work in real life. As a relatively new and (so far *crosses fingers*) solely supporting member the practical aspects of why something is or isn’t done a particular way aren’t always obvious to me. I didn’t like the idea of creating a hierarchy of members (I’ve witnessed the resentment that kind of system can cause elsewhere, and it wasn’t fun) but I hadn’t considered how difficult it would be to apply it. Many thanks to all the experienced conrunners and volunteers who spell things out for people like me. 🙂

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