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June 15, 2007


Denis MacEoin

The boycott backers insist that their actions are not anti-Semitic, that they just want to criticize Israel and force it to change its aberrant ways. But even if the boycott were not in itself anti-Semitic, it takes place in an anti-Semitic context. This context cannot be denied (see last year's reports on the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK and Europe by the UK all-party committee and the EU committee; and witness the enormity of anti-Semitism in the Middle East). Since Israel is so widely perceived in an anti-Semitic fashion, it must surely be anti-Semitic to join in condemnation.
If one thinks of Germany before Kristallnacht and before the brownshirts started enforcing a boycott of Jewish shops, anti-Jewish feeling was high, but people could buy things in Jewish shops without much trouble. Now, let's imagine I don't like to shop in a particular Jewish establishment, because I don't like the owner, or I hate his wife's red hair, or I used to get into fights with his son at school, or I don't like his blends of coffee, or whatever. My choice is to stay away from the shop (as I might do without being at all anti-Semitic, in normal times), or to recognize that my own boycott plays into the hands of the brownshirts. If I am genuinely not a racist, I surely hate the Nazis (for which read Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, etc. today), and I will decide to shop there. And while I shop there, I may make friends with the shopkeeper, I may make up with his son, I may tell his wife about the wonderful hair colours available at the new hairdresser down the road, I may as if they might consider the new coffee being imported from Yemen.

This has to be the moral position, especially if there are other shops whose owners are grumpier, whose wives have green hair, whose sons belong to the Hitler Youth, and whose coffee tastes like sawdust.


Denis, I am not sure that is a fair comparison, particularly as there are some Jewish Israelis that are involved in the call to divest and boycott.

The rational can be explained simply: 1. Palestinians are being denied human rights because of impositions caused by the security situation 2. This is leading to depression and anger amoungst the Palestinians, who feel agrieved, particularly regarding the land situation, which they feel has been going on for 60 years. 3. Solidarity groups feel that they have tried every route available to protest at this injustice and are only left with the tools of divestment and boycotting.

I don't think that chain of thought is necessarily anti-semitic.

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