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. rcade –

    At this point anyone who, quite reasonably, objects to Worldcon being held in the United States in 2021 should vote “None of the Above” at Site Selection in Dublin. If None of the Above wins, that throws the decision to the Business Meeting on Sunday. If the BM can’t make a decision then CoNZealand would have to “without undue delay”.

    There are a lot of people I’ve seen objecting to a Worldcon in the US for the foreseeable future. But I don’t see a concerted campaign to vote for None of the Above. Is there one I’ve missed?

  2. On the idea of weighting votes more heavily for those who have attended X number of previous Worldcons–it’s hard enough for the seated Worldcon to get data from the previous Worldcon and unduplicate it to figure out who is eligible to nominate in the Hugos. I can’t imagine DC, for example (the first Worldcon who would have to implement such a thing if it passed in the BM this year) being able to get that data from Dublin, San Jose, Helsinki, Kansas City and Spokane. Aside from the GDPR issues for Dublin and Helsinki, would any of those other Worldcons even still HAVE their complete membership lists.

    And then have to unduplicate it.

    And then have to figure out of the Jane Smith in Spokane is the same or different to the Jane Smith in Dublin or Kansas City.

    Thank goodness the Business Meeting, IMO, is highly unlikely to pass such a proposal.

  3. rcade: 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.

    I got into fandom while the Vietnam War was still in progress, when there was an Australian fan who registered his disapproval by refusing to read or trade with American fanzines. From that time to the present, certainly through the Bush II, Obama and Trump administrations, this country has been the subject of controversy (including things I don’t support, or have come to realize were wrong). But I don’t work on and attend Worldcons to symbolically influence US foreign policy, like every voter, I have direct political contacts available for that. Whether my senators and congresswoman pay attention to my opinion, they’re a lot more likely to do that than notice what happens at Dublin 2019’s site selection.

  4. The people I’ve seen arguing against a Worldcon in the US don’t seem to be doing it to influence US policy. They’re mostly doing it, AFAICT, because of policies and practices of Border Patrol and Immigration Control and how they will impact fans. There are a LOT of fans that either wouldn’t be able to go to Worldcon in the US or would be subject to possible, or even probable, harassment at the border,

  5. @Vicki Rosenzweig: quite so; I’ve seen several discussions of GDPR but hadn’t internalized them and was being ~parochial. I can just imagine how happy Dublin wouldn’t be to have to do after-the-fact changes to records as fans realize they have to opt-in in order to get voting rights elsewhere.

    @Meredith: you’re quite welcome; glad to know my experience is actually useful, instead of amounting to we’ve-never-done-it-that-way.

  6. Myself, I am one that can’t visit Israel without risk being denied or harassed. I have been a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement in Sweden for more than 20 years and have enough friends that have been placed in detention, abused and then denied entry.

  7. But I don’t work on and attend Worldcons to symbolically influence US foreign policy, like every voter, I have direct political contacts available for that.

    I can’t fault you for that. There are Worldcon bids in D.C. and New Orleans, so there’s a good shot it is returning to my quadrant of the country for the first time since Baltimore in 1998. I’m obviously a fan of that idea.

  8. ULTRAGOTHA: There are a LOT of fans that either wouldn’t be able to go to Worldcon in the US or would be subject to possible, or even probable, harassment at the border,

    Your comment reminds me there would be a spectrum of response, but there are people who specifically say they wouldn’t vote for a US bid while Trump is still in office. The unspoken implication is that it would be okay afterwards.

  9. It’s demonstrable that Border Patrol and Customs has been unreasonable since before Trump was elected. But they’ve gotten so much worse since then.

    Whether they would get better after Trump depends heavily on the attitude of the next president.

  10. @Hyman Rosen
    You were trolling last time you showed up here, too. Why should we even answer you?

  11. ULTRAGOTHA: It’s demonstrable that Border Patrol and Customs has been unreasonable since before Trump was elected. But they’ve gotten so much worse since then..

    Yes they have, however, there were people already swearing they’d never come to a US con after Peter Watts’ experience in 2009. Trump’s replacement is not going to roll travel security measures back to a level that any will think is wonderful.

  12. I think I’m just being occasionally ironic, not trolling, but YMMV. My straightforward opinion is that it’s unlikely that people who are thinking of making a convention bid are going to decide that their state or country is so awful that they should not make such a bid, even when politely urged to consider that, whether it’s a Worldcon in Israel or a Nasfic in Utah.

    As for SS-EPH, I do in fact realize the difficulties involved. On the other hand, if there is a desire to protect against possible ballot stuffing, addressing that preemptively seems wiser than waiting until it has already happened, given that we have evidence that emotionally motivated voters are willing to skew the normal voting process, and that in matters concerning Israel, emotions run especially high.

  13. @Mike: Given the choice*, right now I would prefer a non-US Worldcon because of the number of people, including friends of mine, who won’t attend a US Worldcon because they either consider it dangerous, or don’t want to deal with likely being hassled and possibly turned away at the border.

    I think you’re right that the intrusive behavior of the border guards won’t be rolled back to 1990s levels any time soon; at the same time, there are quite a few people who were more willing to take the chance in 2015 and aren’t now.

    *I don’t think we are being given the choice for 2021, and “will you go to the 2021 Worldcon, given that it will be in the US?” is a different question than “should the 2021 Worldcon be held in the US?”

    I should also note here that I haven’t been to a Worldcon in more than a decade, so my preferences shouldn’t weigh heavily here.

  14. I would just like to make a point of acknowledging that the one actual Israeli SFF fan who has participated in this discussion has done so with decency and integrity, and I don’t want them to be judged by the actions of Americans who have behaved badly.

  15. Mike, when evaluating any travel outside the US I always make sure that safety, stability, and my general agreement with the local government is considered. When we went to Istanbul, those were very real concerns as the Erdo?an government was growing increasingly terrible on human rights and there had been recent terror attacks in Istanbul. Ultimately, we decided to go . . . and missed the abortive coup attempt by about two months.

    I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to travel to the US while Trump is President. Just like I won’t consider Israel as a safe place to visit while Likud remains in power and tensions remain high. If something changes between now and 2025 and site selection, I’ll reevaluate.

  16. Hyman Rosen on May 21, 2019 at 3:56 pm said:

    I think I’m just being occasionally ironic, not trolling, but YMMV. My straightforward opinion is that it’s unlikely that people who are thinking of making a convention bid are going to decide that their state or country is so awful that they should not make such a bid, even when politely urged to consider that, whether it’s a Worldcon in Israel or a Nasfic in Utah.

    By that standard, I think it not unreasonable to say that there is no place in the world that is acceptable to all people. No matter where it is, there will be people who will be outraged about it. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m serious. You name places you think are okay, and watch the rest of us find reasons to be outraged about them. They may not be in your opinion good reasons to be outraged, but there will be people unhappy about it. There always are.

    Fortunately, there are always options when you are outraged about a site, including voting None of the Above if you hate them all. This is not theoretical, you know. None of the bids on the ballot for the 2013 Westercon won. (It wasn’t actually “None of the Above,” for technical reasons, but ignore that for now.) So the voters rejected all of the choices and instead the Business Meeting selected a site.

  17. @P J Evans

    I don’t recall what recent incident you’re referring to, but after a quick google to refresh my memory I think Hyman has generally engaged in good faith over the last few years. I assume this particular discussion hit some kind of nerve.

    @Hyman Rosen

    I thought your comment to Camestros about threats was very silly, unhelpful and borderline trolling at best, and the one about Utah just straight-up obnoxious trolling as well as not being applicable to the discussion (selection had already happened by the time the law was passed, and bringing in an entirely unrelated contentious topic in an attempt to score points is, well, obnoxious). Otherwise it was just disagreement, but those two, not so much. That is, of course, just my opinion.

  18. @Hyman Rosen: if you think there is a plausible way to do what you call SS-EPH, please lay it out in more detail than you have — including providing answers for the points I’ve raised, and for your false equivalence between the number of emotive people it took to spoil nominations and the number it would take to break a site selection.

  19. Logistically, it would be extremely difficult to “stuff” a Site Selection ballot box.

    First of all, in order to have the privilege of paying to vote for Site Selection, an individual has to first pay to be a member of the convention at which the site will be selected.

    If they do that, then Site Selection voting can be paid for in 3 ways:
    1) purchase a token online with a credit or debit card
    2) send a check with the ballot to the US agent for Site Selection
    3) pay in person at the convention where Site Selection is being held

    Votes (ballots) can be submitted in 4 ways:
    1) physically mailed with the online Site Selection token number to the “local” agent in US, Europe, or (if available) ANZ
    2) physically mailed with a check with the ballot to the US agent for Site Selection
    3) physically carried by a designate to the convention where Site Selection is being held
    4) submitted in person at the convention where Site Selection is being held

    In all of these cases, someone engaged in mass-voting would be easily identifiable. A whole bunch of tokens bought by the same credit card? A bunch of checks from the same person/account? Turning in a bunch of absentee ballots to the Site Selection desk at the con? Busted. The only type of “ballot-stuffing” possible would be by a bunch of individuals who are each legitimately able to vote.

    Now, if the fans of a given country want to hold a Worldcon badly enough that a bunch of them are individually willing to buy Supporting or Attending memberships to the current convention and pay for Site Selection Voting as well (~$100 USD) in sufficient numbers to win, then I’m fine with that.

    But as we saw when GunNutCon made a bid to host the NASFiC, and a bunch of people who clearly had no ability or intention of attending in Puerto Rico nevertheless paid the Site Selection fee to vote for Puerto Rico, I think that a bid which is vehemently opposed by the majority of the membership would not get that far.

  20. “I would just like to make a point of acknowledging that the one actual Israeli SFF fan who has participated in this discussion has done so with decency and integrity, and I don’t want them to be judged by the actions of Americans who have behaved badly.”

    Well said! And for that matter, I do not think Hyman has been “trolling” either. I recognize the arguments from similar discussion and knowing how they are prone to go, I am grateful for the restraint and civility that I have seen as for now from all parts.

    However, I do not expect this to last. At least not when the Fannish Inquisition gets rolling, when we get the competing Palestinian bid and when the organized international pressure groups starts to invade blogs, articles and social media of both guests and members.

    “Logistically, it would be extremely difficult to “stuff” a Site Selection ballot box.”

    We are talking about the Israel-Palestine conflict here. There are organizations that sometimes are 70 years old, sometimes state sponsored, that get involved if they think the PR-effort is worth it. They have existing mailing lists with instructions and then it is up to the recipients to decide if they want to pay for it.

    This is not the puppies. This is on a much, much larger scale. The scale where the pressure groups manage to influence governments to write new laws such as the anti-boycott laws in Germany and US and the pro-boycott law in Ireland.

    See the specially created applications as an example. And special education programs.

    And while the Pro-Palestinian side does not have such fancy stuff, they absolutely have their own ways of mobilizing.

    I’m not saying as an absolute truth that this will happen. But it wouldn’t surprise me. A convention with celebrity authors is most likely too big a thing to ignore.

  21. During the Puppy kerfuffle I joined WSFS as a supporting member for a couple of years, and attended the business meetings at MidAmeriCon II, precisely to vote against the Puppy slates and in favor of EPH. H.E. is correct about what would happen if this got the attention of the factions who fight the the Israel-Palestine war in every venue they can find.

    Considering Israel to be an unsafe place to visit is ridiculous given that Israel draws millions of tourists every year who come to no harm. At least if you take “safe” in its literal sense, since these days claims of being made to feel unsafe are also used as a strategy to silence or demonize opponents. It can be disconcerting seeing what look like schoolchildren toting rifles. Some of those IDF members, boys and girls, can look quite a bit younger than their age.

    As for SS-EPH, it is neither my job nor in my skill set to devise a solution, any more than EPH itself. I just present the issue: A contentious site selection may cause people to join WSFS solely to vote for a site, with a result against the wishes of the more established fan community. It’s up to the WSFS powers-that-be to decide whether this is a problem, and if so, what to do about it.

  22. EPH is a measure to manage multiple nominations. It doesn’t make any sense in terms of site selection – its not even the right category of things. Unless we imagined a situation where we dealing with a large number of bids and somebody was trying to swamp the process with multiple bids for the same country (in some new nomination phase)

    Preference voting is the equivalent for voting on site selection and that already exists. It isn’t an anti-ballot stuffing measure though. There’s not a voting system solution to ballot stuffing., although voting system might change how much stuffing you might have to do.

  23. Hyman Rosen on May 21, 2019 at 11:11 pm said:

    Considering Israel to be an unsafe place to visit is ridiculous given that Israel draws millions of tourists every year who come to no harm.

    More systematically. Australia provides travel advice on most countries and classifies them into four levels:
    1. Exercise normal safety precautions [the safest level]
    2. High degree of caution [basically safe if you avoid dangerous aspects]
    3. Reconsider your need to travel
    4. Do not travel
    Israel is a “High degree of caution” level but then so is Belgium and France currently. The added proviso is that the entry is for “Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank” and so parts are also classified as 3 or 4. For comparison there are similar aspects in the travel advice for Thailand. https://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/middle-east/Pages/israel_gaza_strip_and_west_bank.aspx

    So not ridiculous to be concerned about safety but not comparable with lots of other nations with substantial tourism.

  24. Why exactly are Belgium and France “high degree of caution” countries? Because of a couple of terrorist attacks in recent years?

    Because I would consider both safer destinations than Israel. Not that Israel is necessarily unsafe, but I understand that people have safety concerns. For Belgium and France I don’t really understand it.

    And for the record, there are parts of Germany where I would warn travellers to be cautious, too.

  25. @Hyman Rosen:

    As for SS-EPH, it is neither my job nor in my skill set to devise a solution, any more than EPH itself. I just present the issue: A contentious site selection may cause people to join WSFS solely to vote for a site, with a result against the wishes of the more established fan community. It’s up to the WSFS powers-that-be to decide whether this is a problem, and if so, what to do about it.

    In other words, you know diddly about WSFS works. There are no powers-that-be; there are some people with enough experience that they’re more likely to come up with proposals that the voters will accept, but that’s no guarantee of acceptance — and some of the most experienced people actively volunteer to work with anyone who has the elements of a material suggestion, to get the wording into a shape that other people can understand. There isn’t even a continuing membership. (Rules section 1.4: The Membership of WSFS shall consist of all people who have paid membership dues to the Committee of the current Worldcon.) EPH happened because a group of people, some of them active in discussions on Making Light, saw what was happening and decided to work out how to reduce the chance of it happening again, not because of some decree-from-above. If you won’t even try to offer any answer to the grossest problems with your proposal, you hurt any credibility to your claim that Something Must Be Done.

    @JJ: it is debatable whether (at least one of) your proposed guard measures would be acceptable. Part of what tipped off 1989 to the attempted nomination-stuffing was several instances of multiple ballots coming in paid for by a single money order; it’s not clear to me that noticing use of a credit card for large numbers of separate transactions would not be a violation of ~expectable privacy of voters. Also, ISTM that sections 4.4.2 and 4.4.3 allow non-physical ballots; can you point to a countering section requiring delivery of a physical ballot?

  26. Chip Hitchcock: There are people who think they are the Powers That Be. It’s easy to understand why someone with less business meeting experience might have that impression.

  27. Chip Hitchcock: ISTM that sections 4.4.2 and 4.4.3 allow non-physical ballots; can you point to a countering section requiring delivery of a physical ballot?

    Electronic voting for Site Selection is theoretically allowed by the WSFS Constitution. However, all the bidcoms involved have to agree to it. Thus far, they have not been willing to do so, because site bidding is so time- and effort-consuming and expensive, and so many Site Selection votes have come down to a difference of a few votes, that they want to be able to oversee the counting process themselves to ensure that it is fair and accurate.

  28. It also seems to me that an administering Worldcon has a duty-of-care to pay enough attention to the payments they receive to identify fraud of either the identity or financial kind. A bunch of transactions with the same last 4 digits on the cards is a likely indicator that one or the other is occurring. If someone was using the membership list to place votes in other people’s names including mine, I would want them catching that.

  29. Cora Buhlert on May 22, 2019 at 6:13 am said:

    Why exactly are Belgium and France “high degree of caution” countries? Because of a couple of terrorist attacks in recent years?

    I think because of their own stated levels of risk of terrorist attack.

  30. JJ on May 22, 2019 at 9:46 am said:

    It also seems to me that an administering Worldcon has a duty-of-care to pay enough attention to the payments they receive to identify fraud of either the identity or financial kind.

    I assume the ballot stuffing fear introduced to the discussion is based on a scenario where either pro-Israel nationalist groups or pro-Palestinian groups (or both) organised to vote in site selection. I don’t think that’s likely (the stakes aren’t big enough compared to the cost) but if it did, it would then likely be via votes that were nominally valid (i.e. real people joining and voting) but who were only voting for strictly partisan reasons. There wouldn’t be a way of spotting that or proving it did or didn’t happen [e.g. Puppies remaining paranoia that all those people who voted against their slate in 2015 somehow weren’t genuine].

  31. I would just like to make a point of acknowledging that the one actual Israeli SFF fan who has participated in this discussion has done so with decency and integrity

    Aw, thanks @JJ 😀

    I’m still Thinking Muchly where I even am about this.

  32. @JJ In all of these cases, someone engaged in mass-voting would be easily identifiable. A whole bunch of tokens bought by the same credit card? A bunch of checks from the same person/account? Turning in a bunch of absentee ballots to the Site Selection desk at the con? Busted.

    Suppose these things did happen, and suppose even further that some pro-Israel organization publicly encourages its members to vote for Worldcon in Israel, so it is not even a secret to the counters that this is going on. So what — is it in their power to reject the votes, so long as each vote comes from a bona fide person? (It is certainly not inconceivable that a couple hundred members of AIPAC or ZOA would go to the trouble to fill out and mail forms to a POC who could deliver them in person, if the leadership of organization urged them to and the organization paid the fees. )

  33. (My uncertainty being clearly stated, I will note this: assuming a coordinated attack on site-selection in half a decade in order to bring a science-fiction convention to Israel, might be jumping the gun a little.
    Like, maybe we could try for the existence of an Israeli bid to not be a sprawling internet drama, drawing in that kind of outrage-seeking attention.)

  34. Whatever else happens between now and 2027, it will be even more asinine then to require that all site selection voters find a printer to print an 8 1/2 x 11 or A4 ballot, which they then stuff in an envelope, to which they then affix the requisite international postage, than it is, already, today.

  35. Brian Z: Whatever else happens between now and 2027, it will be even more asinine then to require that all site selection voters find a printer to print an 8 1/2 x 11 or A4 ballot, which they then stuff in an envelope, to which they then affix the requisite international postage, than it is, already, today.

    That isn’t required of all Site Selection voters. The vast majority of participants do so at Worldcon, where they are given the form and a pen to fill it out at a public, clearly-visible location at the con. It’s handled in such a way that the people accepting the ballots — who consist of members of all bids at all times, to ensure fairness — do not get to see how the person voted, just their identifying information, which is validated against their con badge / member number. Then their name is ticked off on a paper or electronic list such that no one will be able to submit another ballot under the same name. Then their payment is accepted. Then the section with the personal info is physically cut from the voting section, which is inserted into a clear lucite locked box. This ensures that no association is kept between a voter and how they voted, while also ensuring that no one gets to sneak in a few extra votes while no one is looking.

    Ballots which were sent to the con with friends, or were mailed to the international agent for their global area, are handled at the con in exactly the same way, under the same scrutiny.

    Once Site Selection is closed on the last day, the box of votes is carried to a designated room in the company of representatives of all bids, where they are counted and then recounted by reps from all sides for accuracy.

    I thought it was ludicrous, too, until it was explained to me by people who had spent a significant part of 4-5 years of their life, large chunks of their personal spare time and paid time off work, a significant amount of personal effort, and thousands of dollars of their own money promoting a bid, only to win or lose the bid by a handful of votes. I can understand why they would be concerned about not having a verifiable paper audit trail — which can be recounted, under observation, by as many people as necessary, as many times as necessary — for something that is pretty high stakes.

    I expect that at some point, someone will be able to come up with an electronic method which people will feel is secure, verifiable, and un-hackable. Until then, this is likely how it will continue to be done.

  36. The stakes aren’t THAT high. It’s good enough to arrange for some reputable mainstream third party voting service provider host a fully anonymous vote for site selection for the qualified voters. All the bids could easily be included and consulted on that process so they can see how it is done.

    And I mean, to vote for site selection in 2019 I am already required to sign in to “buy a site selection token” and pay the fees with a card. After which, and this is what strikes me as a bit stone age, I would still have to go offline and find a pen with ink left in it and carefully jot this site selection token number on a literal piece of paper, careful not to accidentally transpose any numbers, and then drive to the post office and buy a giant mess of stamps. Geez.

    (Unless I live in the US, in which case I am uniquely allowed to enclose a personal check along with my ballot, with a single stamp on my envelope, which is of course also tipping the scales…)

    But with all that said, sure, I would definitely support WSFS implementing blockchain voting to make it painless and cost-effective for all of its members to vote for site selection online in a transparent way. If that were implemented across the board it might help move the Hugos past some of their recent troubles, too.

  37. Brian Z: The stakes aren’t THAT high.

    When you’ve spent 5 years of your own time and effort, and thousands of dollars of your own money, on putting together and promoting a Worldcon bid, you’ll be in a position to opine on that with some credibility.

     
    Brian Z: it might help move the Hugos past some of their recent troubles

    The Hugos have already moved past their recent troubles. Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the memo. Try checking your Junk mailbox; maybe it went there by accident.

  38. I think this bid is a terrible idea, and yes, it is typical of James Bacon who is a nice lad but oblivious to a lot of things.
    To be clear: I will not go to a WorldCon in Israel. Not to this Israel. It has nothing to do with not liking its government: but I do think that the right way to protest the flaunting of logic, humanity, and international law on the part of Israel is peacefully, with the boycott campaign.
    I know there are many Israeli fans who are in no way responsible for the action of their country and may even disagree with them. I would LOVE to visit (I have just legally denied myself the pleasure) and I am not concerned about safety. I am concerned about a policy whose ultimate result is the suffering of several million innocent civilians, and whose aim I cannot understand unless it is one of ethnic cleansing. In other words I feel like Hampus: I will not go to a WorldCon in Israel as I would not have gone to a WorldCon in Pretoria. Not because there aren’t worse countries than Israel, but because there is an international campaign aiming at one day resolve the current situation of which both nations currently living in the land of Israel/Palestine are victims, paying in blood and in soul.
    Saner heads should have prevailed and counselled against this bid which will tear fandom apart in a way that will make the Puppies look fluffy and cuddly.

  39. which will tear fandom apart

    The Puppies thought that we should just stick to good old rockets-and-blasters science fiction because the other kind was tearing fandom apart. You are asking people to silence and closet themselves for the sake of what you consider unity, but it is a unity only of what you believe. If fandom cannot exist with a plethora of opinions, then it should tear itself apart.

  40. Hyman Rosen: What the lead dogs wanted Puppies to do was vote for a predetermined list of works and take over the Hugo Award ballot. There was no “plethora of opinions” respected in that.

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