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June 11, 2007

Howard Jacobson on Boycotts and Six-Day War Revisionism

In today's Independent, author and columnist Howard Jacobson comments on the link between Six-Day War revisionism and the British movement to boycott Israel.

Some of his pithy observations:

• "... it is a false syllogism which goes Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic; I am a critic of Israel; therefore I am not an anti-Semite."

• "It is, anyway, a red herring. ... You don't have to be an anti-Semite to be a blackguard. And you certainly don't have to be an anti-Semite to be a fool. Boycotters assure us of their innocence of anti-Semitism as though that settles once and for all the question of their intellectual and moral rectitude."

• "A person cleared of anti-Semitism might still be guilty of something else. If anti-Semitism is repugnant to humanity, then it is no less repugnant to humanity to single out one country for your hatred, to hate it beyond reason and against evidence, to pluck it from the complex contextuality of history as though it authored its own misfortunes and misdeeds as the devil authored evil, to deny it any understanding (which is not the same as sympathy or succour), and — most odious of all — to seek to silence its voices."

• "... if the war changed us, we have, in our turn, changed the war. Compare what was said about it at the time with what is said about it now and it is hard to believe it is the same event."

• "... to understand the motives of a suicide bomber and not the motives of those who seek to keep him out is to understand nothing."

• "the assumption on which the entire boycott is based ... is breathtaking. An Israeli scholar dare not be in even the most partial agreement with his government. For an Israeli academic not to think exactly as they think on the campuses of Birmingham and Brighton is to be guilty of a crime for which the punishment is expulsion from the international community of thought."

Read the whole piece here.

Posted by at June 11, 2007 11:37 AM


Dear Howard
I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your article published on June 8th in the Independent : "Howard Jacobson: It's time to end the vilification of Israel".
If the Independent, not known for a warm attitude towards Zionist / Israeli politics gave you the chance to state your case, which you did brilliantly, all is not lost.
Never the less, I hope where you have led on this side of the Atlantic, others will follow. More power to your writing elbow. Frank Trevor

Posted by: Frank Trevor at June 17, 2007 11:50 AM

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