USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Whose boycott is it, anyway

Posted by uscsjp on April 2, 2007

With Jewish intellectuals attacked as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israel, Israeli filmmaker and academic Haim Bresheeth* makes the case for a cultural boycott of his home country.


Over the last few months a campaign of vile propaganda has been waged, not for the first time, against liberal Jewish intellectuals who have angered the dominant Jewish communities of the main Western countries.

The charge? Anti-Semitism, no less. In different communities, an accusatory finger is pointed at those Jewish thinkers and artists who have dared to criticise Israel and its illogical, barbaric and counter- productive policies and actions. Anyone who strays from the simple line of full support for whatever Israel chooses to do, however infuriating, is tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism, used as a magical incantation against heretics outside the Zionist faith.

In Paris, the Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut found it acceptable to blame an Israeli filmmaker, Eyal Sivan, with more than anti-Semitism — incitement to murder of Jews — just for making a film, Route 181, with Palestinian Filmmaker Michel Khleifi. The film, a sophisticated expose of conditions for Palestinians within Israel and in the occupied territories, questions Israel’s record of brutality and lawlessness. Nowhere in the film do they call, or condone calls, for any harm against Jews or Israelis. The film was widely shown in Israel itself, where the filmmaker works and teaches.

The accusations against the filmmakers were made on a popular radio channel, with a call for listeners to “do what they see fit” to stop such suspect characters. The filmmakers took the case to court in Paris, as the philosopher in question, a notorious public figure, is well known for extreme racist expressions he used in a Hebrew interview, which he may have thought would not be translated. He was wrong, and the translation, made available on the web, has made him enemy number one of ethnic minorities in France. The court found that the libellous accusations were indeed without foundation, but still agreed that Finkielkraut has a right to voice them. The case is under appeal, but do not hold your breath — the fear of the anger of the Jewish community in France is real, and the system will do much to avoid inciting its ire.

Across the pond, the American Zionist lobby, not known for its subtlety or adherence to simple facts, has found new victims, having managed to isolate the Linguist Noam Chomsky so that he cannot find an outlet on US media to voice his criticism of Israel. The new targets are Playwright Tony Kushner and prominent Historian Tony Judt. The charge? The same — they have dared to disagree with Israel and its inalienable right to bomb, destroy and detain just about anything and anyone, anywhere in the Middle East. Apparently, as reported in the Observer in January, organised Jewry plans to “confront” such Jews with accusations of anti- Semitism, and much more besides. (full article)


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