Monday, June 18, 2007

A political statement in the New York Times.
I think they have a point.


goosefat101 said...

The adverts have a point in terms of the other countries might also deserve boycotts (although since they are all much poorer countries it is possible boycotts would do more harm than good).

Certainly the causes need much larger media exposure and academics and the like to campaign and engage with those problems.

However it is wrong to say that boycotting Israel is anti-antisemitism. In fact it is an inexcusable use of the word, devaluating it greatly. If Israel were not behaving in borderline genocidal ways (and as a first world country that is very very inexcusable) and being a horrible bullying country to an entire region, then maybe boycotting it would be antisemitism. However since it is behaving this way and these reasons are the reasons for such boycotts then I cannot see how anyone could call it antisemitism.

Boycotting Israel is pro-human, not anti-jew. It is antisemitic to suggest that the any problems that you can have with a jewish person are based on their race. This is defining them by their race/religion only! Plenty of Jewish people object to Israel's policies, both in Jerusalem and outside it.

If people have a problem with Blair and Bush and their war in Iraq are they being anti-British and anti-American? (and we've all heard people with legitimate views dismissed as anti-American haven't we?

People really need to grasp the fact that you can have problems with countries without blaming the individual citizens of those countries.

Yes Israel should not be singled out. All other countries that behave appallingly should be grappled with. But shame on whoever created those adverts, shame on them for suggesting Israel is not a problem/can be justified and shame on them for devaluing the term antisemitism, by using it incorrectly and unfairly they just serve to divide opinion into polar opposites once again.

jennifletzet said...

I'm not sure that the advert actually suggests Israel is not a problem, more that the activism is misdirected.
To some extent I agree with you. I agree that anti-semitism is an intensely loaded word thrown about by Israel and expatriate Jews when it most suits them. However, Israeli identity is so complicated that it becomes almost impossible to define its people in a way that does not involve Judaism. By law you must be Jewish to be a citizen of Israel, even if you do not practice or even believe. My own experience of Israel is that, on daily terms, it's largely a secular place. I don't know any practicing Jews at all. But as citizenship requires a religious identification if you act against the state, you are by default acting against the religion. Boycotting the state means boycotting the religion... and gets labelled 'anti-semitism'.
But make no mistake, I don't support this inextricable collusion between the religion and the state one bit, and it does make it all too convenient to label attacks against the state and state legislation as attacks on the people's religion and ethnicity.

jennifletzet said...

On the actual boycotts themselves: I do not believe that they are pro-human. In fact, I believe that they are an act of almost 'despair of the human': academic institutions should be the last vestige of reasoning, debate, and opening up of discussion: the place where all voices are heard. They should never align themselves with processes of silencing. In the 3 higher-education institutions that I've been privileged to attend there was at least one Palestinian Society and various Islamic groups too. I never saw a single Israeli society, and although I think there was a Jewish society in one of them, they certainly didn't make the noise the Palestinian Society did. Palestinian and pro-Palestinian groups are being heard loud and clear in academic institutions (as they should be!), but if no answer to this is allowed, if no oppositional voices are considered legitimate to the debate, then this is not democracy, and it is also not a way to resolution. There must be open debate, especially in academic establishments where your are supposed to have (theoretically!) the most open minds in society.
Academic and journalistic boycotts are acts made in despair, dismissing debate as pointless, and this saddens me greatly.
You quite rightly state that individuals should not be blamed for their country's policies. But this boycott is doing exactly that: it's not boycotting the government, it's not boycotting embassies or government offices, it's boycotting individual scholars, journalists and students, many of which, as you also rightly pointed out, categorically do not support their national government's policies. They are being punished for crimes they didn't personally commit.

goosefat101 said...

I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand what the boycott involved. I assumed it would be a boycott of the industries, products etc... not a boycott of a whole nations voice!

In which case there should be no boycott whatsoever. I fully agree with you. I am a big believer in free speach of all kids. I will even advocate the BNP having a voice rather than being silenced (their "silence" gets them more supporters since they are matyrs and their voice tends to damn itself anyway!)

Sorry, I didn't get the idea properly. My ignorance of the issue is to blame (I don't pay much attention to accademia).

In that case though the adverts seem even stranger, since it makes no sense to mention all the other terrible regimes that exist, because none of those should be censored either. In terms of anti-seminism it does seem that people with the best intentions have created a pretty anti-semitic policy! Thats the problem with the left though, its always so full of good intentions, but they are always defeated by the higher moral ground it tries to have.

Anyway sorry to go off on a big rant without understanding the full facts!!

jennifletzet said...

Yeah, I find the boycott very reactive, but I do think you're right to question the use of the word anti-semitism for anything involving action against Israel. The intrinsic infiltration of religion into state rule is so deliberate: the Israeli state knows that it enables them to attach the label to any action made against them as a state. I find any religion's involvement with politics under any circumstances deeply frustrating - whether its catholicism, islam or judaism - but as Israel as we know it is founded on identifying its people based on their religion (perhaps only comparible in this with the catholic and protestant division in Ireland) it makes their situation particularly complex.