We’re consistently told that anti-Israel boycotters are anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish, but we’ve long suspected that, for some at least, this might not be the case.
This week, when an American reggae star was told to sign up to a Palestinian state before appearing at a festival, for no other reason than he was Jewish, our suspicions were confirmed.
Yes, the decision was later reversed, but only after pressure from the Spanish government, which highlighted its insanity.
We must address the problem, though. The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement argues that you can be against the policies of the State of Israel without being against the Jewish people. On the face of it, you can, but the lines are blurred: Israel is known as “the Jewish state,” its national flag shows the Star of David, and Jewish people see Israel as a safe haven for millions who would otherwise face persecution and slaughter. So, while separate, the two are inextricably linked, to such an extent that the one is seen as the symbol of the other.
Hence the question: what motivates the boycotters?
Why, for example, does Israel get such special treatment from them when it is the only true democracy in the region, constantly attacked in an arbitrary manner, and when its Arab neighbours massacre their own without also being boycotted, sanctioned and divested?
Just as the one Jewish state is the target, when the crimes of its neighbours go unnoticed, so we draw an equivalence when the one Jewish artist at the Spanish festival is asked to explain his political beliefs, when others are not. That these are double standards is not in doubt. More questionable by far is that the hatred fuelling the boycotters is only 67 years old. At times you get the sense that it pre-dates the State of Israel by several millennia.