Cultural boycott of Israel


Sir, – I am sitting outside the Imperial War Museum in London and trying to put into perspective the calls for a boycott of all things Israeli. This is proving especially difficult as I have just spent an hour in the museum’s permanent Holocaust Exhibition, which identifies the early Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses as a central and essential causational tool in the exclusion of Jews from German society. Therefore, I cannot help but draw an analogy between the present call for a boycott, with the dreadful long-term consequences that followed the Nazi-inspired Jewish boycott of the 1930s. Before anyone points out the difference between a boycott of all things Israeli and a boycott of Jewish businesses, perhaps they could explain how a Jewish, and not Israeli, film festival (at the Tricycle Theatre, London), which, by the way, included contributions from Palestinian Arab filmmakers, is any different from 1930s Berlin.

It must be said that my cynicism has been reinforced after witnessing masked thugs intimidating customers attempting to enter Jewish businesses in London. These are third and fourth generation enterprises that have nothing to do with Israel, and have been serving their local communities since the early part of the 20th century. On this basis, I cannot reconcile the claims of the protesters that they are anti-Zionist, but not anti-Semitic; however, if anyone can enlighten me to how this is possible, then I will gracefully acknowledge my mistake. – Yours, etc,


Sean Hales Terrace,


Co Cork.

Sir, – When a person criticises the Israeli state for its actions or policies, the riposte that the critic is being “anti-Semitic” is as foolish and cheap as calling someone who criticises the French state on that account “anti-French”. The “anti-Semitic” riposte is supposed to deliver a knock-out blow because a widely disseminated western doctrine teaches that anti-Semitic/anti-Jewish is a uniquely evil hostility, infinitely more damnable than hostility to any other race, nation or religion. But since that doctrine has no rational basis, contempt is the correct response to this attempt to bludgeon into silence a critic of the Israeli state. – Yours, etc,


Sydney Parade Avenue,

Dublin 4.