September 09, 2008

Tony Greenstein on Martin Shaw on David Hirsh

I kept getting interrupted trying to do a post on Dr Hirsh's beyond the call of duty defence of Israel in the face of an argument by an anti-boycotter, that the boycott Israel campaign may be wrong but it's not antisemitic. The debate is a series of letters on a silly Eustonista website called Democratiya. Well I've given up critiquing Hirsh's contributions for now but fortunately Tony Greenstein has done a post on it here. Here's Martin Shaw's first letter in the debate:


The Mote is in Hirsh's Eye: Martin Shaw responds to David Hirsh

Dear Editors:

I have never supported the proposal for an academic boycott of Israel and so I agree with some of the reasons that David Hirsh advances against it in Democratiya 13. However when it comes to the alleged 'anti-semitism' of the boycott, the mote is in Hirsh's own eye. He writes that, 'Any impact assessment of a boycott of Israel would find that in a whole number of distinct ways, it would disadvantage Jews much more than others. In this sense then, already we can see that an academic boycott of Israel would be institutionally antisemitic.' By this topsy-turvy reasoning, the boycott of apartheid South Africa must have manifested anti-white or anti-Afrikaner racism, since it harmed whites and Afrikaners more than others. It simply will not do to say that action against a racially based state like Israel is itself racist because it must by definition harm the interests of the groups that benefit from that state.

Hirsh also repeats the suggestion that anti-semitism must lurk behind the choice to campaign against Israel rather than against other oppressive states. This too is a phoney argument as there are plenty of other reasons for selecting to campaign against Israel. Unlike Burma or China (and actually plenty of opponents of Israel's policies also oppose these regimes), Israel claims to be a democracy and receives enormous support from Western governments.

It is Hirsh's resort to the insinuation of anti-semitism that is the 'lazy' argument, effectively granting immunity to Israel against any serious opposition. His use of it suggests that he simply hasn't come to terms with the gravity of the affront which Israel's oppression of the Palestinians presents to the progressive left and indeed to most sectors of democratic opinion worldwide. After 60 years of expulsion and 40 years of occupation, it is hard to 'exaggerate' the Israeli problem.
Ok, see how you go with that then look on Tony's or the Democratiya site for some of the most ludicrous apologetics for Israel ever advanced by a "non"-zionist.

The curious thing for me is that Hirsh insists on calling himself a non-zionist at the same time as deploying every stale trick in the zionist book to defend Israel. It's not enough for Hirsh that someone opposed the boycott, they have to positively enthuse about Israel. Ok, now read on.

Thank you.


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