Boycotting Israel

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League ran a series of newspaper advertisements criticizing British organizations for their proposed boycotts of Israel.

“British organizations like the National Union of Journalists should be embarrassed,” read the ADL ad. “They’ve singled out Israel for boycott while ignoring the human rights abuses occurring every day in countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran and Venezuela.”

According to the ADL ad: “When British Unions single out Israel for boycott…That’s not activism. That’s Anti-Semitism.”

Maybe there is anti-Semitism beneath these boycott ideas. But the fact that Israel gets criticism that Sudan, Iran, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela don’t, doesn’t necessarily prove this to me.

Do we really want to compare Israel to these countries?

I, for one, certainly hold Israel — a democratic, Jewish state — to a higher standard than Sudan. Perhaps, the “Jewish” part of that is my privilege as a Jew, but as citizens of a fellow Western democracy, Britons may very well have the right to expect more from Israel than they do from a country like Iran.

I don’t support the boycotts, of course; and again, I’m open to the possibility that there is an undercurrent of Jew-hatred here. But maybe we should think twice before asking the world to expect no more from Israel than it does from Ahmadinejadville and Darfurland.


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