June 8, 2007

Boycotting the Boycott

In response to the boycott of Israel by the British National Union of Journalists, several thousand American academics, including numerous Nobel Prize winners, have signed a petition pledging to to refuse to participate in any events boycotting their Israeli academic colleagues. As Alan Dershowitz points out, there are plenty of countries in which suppression of freedom of the press could be justifiably criticized by the British journalists, but Israel isn't one of them:

The utter hypocrisy of the British National Union of Journalists, which recently voted to boycott only Israel, has now become evident in the face of the silence over the recent move by Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez to suppress dissent by the media in his leftist regime. General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan too has now imposed massive press censorship. In many other of the hard left’s favored countries – Cuba, China, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe – suppression of the press is routine and imprisonment of journalist is common. But there is not a peep about these countries from the British National Union of Journalists who seem to admire tyranny and condemn democracy and openness. Only Israel, which has among the freest presses of the world, is being targeted for sanctions. Even Arab and Muslim journalists have more freedom of the press in Israel than in any Arab or Muslim nation. While Palestinian terrorist groups murder, kidnap and threaten journalists, the British Union exempts the Palestinian authority, run by the censorious Hamas from its journalistic sanctions. The reason is obvious. The British Union cares less about journalists or freedom of the press than it does about blindly condemning the Jewish state.

What Dershowitz doesn't say here is that the British journalists union cited Israel's attacks on Lebanon as the reason for their action, not any restrictions of press freedom, and they have been joined by a couple of other trade unions in the boycott effort. Of course that makes the union's open hostility to Jews and to Israel no less transparent, and it points up the absence of any journalistic principle of impartiality or balance behind their boycott.

Their stated goal is to pressure Israel to change their policies in the West Bank. As long as their outrage is limited to the Israeli response, and ignores the kidnappings, murders and rocket attacks that led to it, their achievement will likely be only the diminishing of their credibility as journalists worthy of the name. Kudos to the academics who are standing up to this thinly-veiled bigotry.

UPDATE 6/12: A friend e-mailed a series of ads sponsored by the Anti Defamation League that have appeared in the New York Times over the last few days. You can see them as pop-up images here, here, here, here, and here. (Thanks, Bob)

Posted by dan at June 8, 2007 10:55 PM