Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Embarrassment of the Wretched

Ran HaCohen
A recurrent theme in anti-Palestinian propaganda (usually misnamed "pro-Israel") is "Don't Single Out." The idea is that evil should be addressed everywhere; the greater the evil, the greater the protest against it should be; and since there are worse cases of evil than Israel's, Israel should not be criticized. Not now, at least: perhaps after all other evils have been eradicated.

The article by Julius and Schama is no exception: you'll find this cliché as argument number three:

"[T]hough the call [to boycott Israel] purports to affirm universal, human rights values, it is incapable of explaining why it seeks a boycott of Israel, alone among the nations of the world. It says nothing about the abuses and human rights breaches inflicted on Israel's citizens. It says nothing about the egregious human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world (Darfur, Chechnya, and many other places)."

Let's apply the Don't-Single-Out argument to the writers themselves. If, as they claim, evils should be addressed top-to-bottom, then Schama and Julius must either consider the proposed boycott the greatest evil on earth, or else they have already done their best to address all greater evils.

Is the proposed boycott really the greatest evil on earth? Well, I haven't heard of a single human injured, killed, or even suffering because of it. But while Julius and Schama were busy writing their article, Gaza had been under Israeli siege for months on end. Numbers of dead reached historic levels; a million and a half human beings have been locked in the tiny Strip, deprived of proper medical care and on the verge of starvation. Schama and Julius don't even mention this evil.

At the same time, the U.S. government has been using Julius' and Schama's tax money to train and arm one party of the feared Palestinian civil war – coincidentally, the party that lost the recent democratic elections. Schama and Julius don't mention this evil, either. But they did find the time to single out the call for boycott and to write against it. And they do have the nerve to blame the initiators of the boycott of "singling out," i.e., of hypocrisy.

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