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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Richard Cohen on the NUJ Boycott: Why Boycott Israel?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/04/richard-cohen-on-nuj-boycott-why.html

Richard Cohen argues against the UK National Union of Journalists (NUJ)  boycott of Israel. He has come a long way since he argued that Israel was a historic mistake last summer. Nonethess it is a good piece, and he hints broadly that the NUJ boycott may have a somewhat anti-Semitic motivation lurking behind it. He writes (in part):
 
In Iran, the government overturned the convictions of six men who, among other things, killed a young couple because they were walking together in public. In China, local authorities seized about 60 women and forcibly aborted their pregnancies. In Russia, the Putin government expanded its control of the media. In Cuba . . . oh, well, you already know. But what you may not know is that given such a vast palette of injustice and depredations, the British National Union of Journalists made a truly original move: It singled out Israel to boycott.
 
The boycott, mind you, is not a journalistic one. Instead, it will extend to lemons and melons and that sort of thing. The boycott was issued as "a gesture of support for the Palestinian people," some of whom, as it happens, abducted a BBC correspondent, Alan Johnston. One group has claimed that it executed him, although no proof has been offered. Suffice it to say the situation is dire. 

What possessed the journalist union's board -- in a vote of 66 to 54 -- to take such action? The question is worth posing because it followed a similar vote last year by British academics (later rescinded) [Actually, two such boycotts were rescinded - the AUT and the NATFHE]  to avoid, under pain of death or something, their Israeli colleagues. And, more important, it is yet another bleat, in Europe and in this country, from people and organizations that, for good reasons and bad, have simply had it with Israel. Why won't the pushy Jewish state shape up?
 
...Sudan kills by the score in Darfur and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe beats his opponents to a pulp, and in almost all of the Arab world there is no such thing as freedom of the press. In Israel there not only is, but the press is as rambunctious as can be found anywhere.
 
The British journalists say they are moved by the plight of the Palestinian people, and they are right to be. But the misery of a Gazan or a West Banker is not solely Israel's doing. The government of Gaza is the political arm of a terrorist organization, and if the West Bank is suffering -- and it is -- the cause is not only Israeli land lust but also a morbid Israeli fear of terrorism. British journalists would no doubt approve similar measures if London's city buses had not once but repeatedly been blown to smithereens by passengers with the exact fare and belts of explosives.
 
So what explains this fury at Israel -- and only at Israel? What explains this need to denounce, to boycott? Some of it surely comes from the uncritical support that Israel gets from the United States, which to lefties all over the world is a vile state, maybe worthy -- if it were not for jeans, movies and hip-hop -- of a boycott itself...
 
The British journalists, like the academics before them, dare to tread where an army of goons has gone before. If they do not recognize the ember of anti-Semitism still glowing within them, they ought to park themselves before a mirror and ask why, of all the nations, they single out Israel for reprimand and obloquy. This business of assigning to Jews a special burden, for seeing in them more of mankind's bad qualities and less of its good, has a dark and ugly pedigree: the Chosen People, again -- and again in the wrong way.
Perhaps Cohen is beginning to catch on. Maybe he is beginning to understand that it can be said of any country, if you want to make the case, that its creation was a "historic mistake." After all, that is what Hitler said of "Czechia," was it not? And Saddam said the same thing about Kuwait, and the Syrians say the same thing about Lebanon.
 
But in the case of the NUJ vote there are some mitigating factors. Perhaps the vote was an attempt at "ransoming" reporter Alan Johnston in a way, by signalling to the Palestinians, "Hey, we are on your side. We hate the Jews as much as you do." The vote of the NUJ may be no more indicative of their true feelings then the "confessions" of the British sailors captured by Iran.
 
Ami Isseroff


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/04/richard-cohen-on-nuj-boycott-why.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

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