Monday 24 October 2016

Boycott of Tel Aviv feis shows the face of real bigotry

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

Intense fighting involving various forces continues to rage in parts of the Middle East
Intense fighting involving various forces continues to rage in parts of the Middle East

We live in a culture where virtually all prejudice has been prohibited.

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Sexism is wrong. Racism is evil. Homophobia will see you in court. Islamophobia is not just wrong, but also brings its own potential death sentence.

All cultures, we are told, are equal. But some are less equal than others.

Thus, it's perfectly acceptable to sneer at America, and it is positively de rigeur to libel Israel as a genocidal, Nazi, apartheid state that is, as Vincent Browne disgracefully claimed, a 'cancer' in the Middle East.

The ongoing BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement has been loud and shrill in their calls for a complete boycott of individual Israelis, regardless of their own political affiliation.

The latest example of this racist profiling comes with the news that Israel's first Irish dancing festival is now the latest target of the BDS bullies.

An Irish dancing school, the Carey Academy, was hoping to hold the feis in Tel Aviv in August, but it was instantly trolled by the usual worthies who were quick to accuse them of "being on the wrong side of history. Don't shame our name."

According to the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign: "The Israeli state has made it clear that it sees cultural events like this as a propaganda tool to whitewash, or in this case 'greenwash', its apartheid policies, its brutal military occupation, and its regular attacks on the people of Palestine."

This is classic deflection and conflation.

Israel is not, by any standard, an 'apartheid' state, no matter how many times this slur is repeated. Israeli Arabs sit in the Knesset, hold high office, and proudly represent the country in sports, science and medicine.

The campaigners know that when it comes to informing people who don't really care one way or the other, using such inflammatory devices as "apartheid" provides a shortcut for people who don't have the time or the inclination to actually educate themselves on the issue.

The Palestinians have always had an aura of revolutionary chic about them, and it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the organiser of this disgraceful attempt at cultural oppression, Amanda Crawford, poses with an AK-47 in her Twitter profile picture.

How very daring! How brave!

How pathetic.

No doubt this Crawford woman thinks she is being daring as she proudly poses with an assault rifle, but it hardly strengthens the idea that she is involved in a peaceful protest.

To the eternal credit of the Carey School, it didn't immediately buckle in the face of such unsolicited harassment.

Instead, it issued a rebuttal which stated: Running a feis in Israel does not mean we support or are involved with the Israeli government or any extremist groups," while one of the judges of the contest asked: "Once we go down that road, where do we stop?"

That's a good question, but one that provides its own answer - these campaigns will end only when Israel ceases to exist.

You don't have to be a student of Nazi Germany to shudder whenever people talk of blanket boycotts of anything involving Jews.

Will these activists stoop to painting the Star of David on shops that stock Israeli goods?

After all, in a moment of almost supreme absurdity, the town of Kinvara in Galway (where else? I hear you ask) last year announced it was boycotting all Israeli products.

That was bad enough, but the fact that students at a local secondary school were encouraged to get involved by their own principal should have been a sackable offence.

Where are all these heroic 'human rights' activists when it comes to the actual abuses in China, Cuba, Sudan, Russia or any of the dozens of other countries that are run like virtual prison camps?

Where are all the human rights activists when Hamas openly declares its intention to kill every Jew?

More pertinently, where are the protests against Egypt, which also has a border and which treats the Palestinians abominably?

This is the eternal problem faced by those who support the BDS movement - their position is inherently flawed, illogical and inconsistent.

Interestingly, the BDS movement has been forced to claim censorship in Canada, where they risk being placed on a register of hate groups.

So, a group devoted to exclusion and marginalisation of people based on their nationality is now complaining that they are being ... excluded and marginalised.

The Middle East is burning. The countries bordering Israel are succumbing to civil war, genocidal extremism and primitive savagery.

Meanwhile, there is one country in the area where it is safe to be a woman, or be gay, where it is safe to be a dissenter.

Let's be clear, Israel is the only beacon of 21st-century civilisation in a region where medieval savagery holds sway.

And yet, bafflingly, that is the country we choose to demonise.

Well done, activists.

You've shamed yourselves yet again.

Irish Independent

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