As you doubtless know, many in Europe loathe the United States. Their invective down the years has been an assault on reason and emotional stability, whether directed against the Vietnam war, the response to 9/11 or to the Iraq war. Yet there is no boycott of the United States.
So, despite a hatred for America -- and a perverse love of Iran, Hezbollah, and the PLO -- we come back to the Israeli exception, to the singling out of just one country. However charitable we may try to be, it is hard not to detect the reek of anti-Semitism. Am I being unfair? To people who marched through the streets of European cities chanting, "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas," (and here and here at Dutch football matches) was that just simple folly -- or proof of intention?
The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement [BDS] against Israel is so determined to hurt Israel abroad, that the boycotters also put pressure on performers who even consider holding concerts in Israel.
The pressure works. An endless stream of artists, mainly musicians, have cancelled concerts or simply turned down invitations to play in Tel Aviv or elsewhere in Israel.
Carlos Santana caved in to pressure from the BDS crowd, as did Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Annie Lennox, Stevie Wonder, and writers such as Iain Banks and Alice Walker, a crusader against racism who flies the flag of anti-Semitism as though Jews are suitable victims. Five hundred artists from Montreal, Canada have joined the campaign. Actors such as Vanessa Paradis and her husband Johnny Depp stayed at home in 2011 -- under the threat that, if they turned up in Israel, they would face a boycott, too.
Roger Waters, former lead singer and lyricist for the rock band Pink Floyd, is a hardline anti-Israel activist who demands a boycott until Israel ends "the occupation" (presumably on Palestinian terms). He also demands that Israel grants full equality to Israel's Arabs -- notwithstanding that Israel's Arabs already have full equality both in law and in practice. Waters would also give all Palestinians the "right of return" -- a condition that guarantees the end of Israel should millions of Muslim non-refugees overrun it.
What Waters and his supporters fail to appreciate is that the exodus of Arabs in 1948 came about in the course of a defensive war: the Arab Higher Committee and the Arab Liberation Army ordered Arabs to leave the land to make it easier to kill the Jews. The Arabs who stayed now make up 20% of Israel's population; they have their own political parties, their own Members of Knesset, their own Supreme Court judgeships, professorships in universities, and so on. Those Arabs who did choose to leave what is now Israel made their beds -- or had them made for them -- and should now lie in them.
This bit of history does not even include the large number of Jews -- estimated at about 800,000, the same number as Arabs who left Israel -- who were forced to leave all their homes and property behind while fleeing onslaughts in Arab countries.
But while Israel took all the Jews in, built housing for them, educated them, and made them citizens, the Arab countries effectively kept their Arab brethren out, often packing them in rancid warrens known as "refugee camps."
By way of comparison, does the Republic of Ireland claim that it must displace all of England, and then allow the English to remain as subordinated citizens if they pay "protection"? Does the United States plan to return Florida to the Seminole or California to Mexico?
But not all the news is bad. Far from it. Many performers have chosen to play in Israel and have done so in great numbers. Artists who have voiced opposition to the BDS campaign include the outstanding Italian writer Umberto Eco, the film makers Joel and Ethan Coen, and musicians such as Elton John, Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Madonna, and Sir Paul McCartney. And one of the world's oldest and biggest bands, the Rolling Stones, plans to play in Tel Aviv this summer.
Not everyone is meek in the face of BDS pressure. The British musician John Lydon (the notorious Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, an anti-establishment figure who actually might have been expected to join in the boycott), responded to criticism by saying: "If Elvis-f#*&ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they are treated."
These are the ironies of the whole BDS business. These politically correct activists are all supposed to be, as if it were the law of the jungle, anti-racists and multiculturalists. But when artists such as Riff Cohen and Ester Rada are banned just because they happened to be born in Israel, it tears apart the very basis of both anti-racism and multiculturalism.
Ban a black singer anywhere else, and you will be denounced as a racist. Ban a Jewish singer whose parents come from North Africa, and you will have made a mockery of the multicultural dream. Banned because you do not like the singer's government? Iran has a deeply dangerous government, but would you ban the extraordinary voice of Mohammed Reza Shajarian? Portugal once had a dictator named António de Oliveira Salazar; no one thought for a moment to ban the country's extraordinary singer, Amália Rodrigues. Who would want to boycott a woman who was understood to be the embodiment of the soul of the Portuguese people, on whose death the state declared three days of public mourning?
But perhaps, after all, matters are changing. A friend just sent a long list of thirty-two items, part of which follows below. People are starting to boycott the boycotters -- probably the most fun you could have with your clothes on.
Read Part I of this series: BDS Movement: Barbarians Inside the Gates - Part I
BDS Scorecard for 3rd Quarter 2013
- Tunisia Banished from Davis Cup for Boycotting Israeli Tennis deals a blow to the BDS Boycott
- A Massive Legal Win In France Against BDS over Jerusalem Rail Link
- Lockheed Martin is opening a subsidiary in Israel
- Shurat HaDin Files Racism Lawsuit against Sydney University BDS Supporter
- Beijing Businesses Looking For Products Labelled "Made In Israel"
- Israel overtakes France as the world's 4th largest exporter of arms in the world
- Kuwait buys arms from Israel, defends position on Al Jazeera
- Israel's Second Quarter growth exceeds expectation
- Facebook is opening its first office in Israel after acquiring app maker Onavo
- Germans advise BDS will not bring peace in article in Algemeiner, 4th Nov 2013
- The Irish Independent reports that entrepreneurs from five up-and-coming Irish high-tech firms are visiting Israel to learn how its businesses pulled off so many achievements.
- The Nigerian president is to lead 30,000 pilgrims to Israel, according to All Africa
- The richest man in Asia is giving $130 million to the Technion to build a research centre in China.
- Israel is closing consulates in Europe and replacing them in China, where trade is increasing
- Apple Pays $345 Million For Israeli Chip Manufacturer
- BDS Main Websites Built Using Israeli Software Wix – journalists accuse them of hypocrisy
- Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Top Index Hits All-Time High Nov 21
- (Also see Efraim Inbar's "Time Favors Israel.")