Why single out Israel?

Following my letter in last weekend’s Melbourne Sunday Age about the blog The Sensible Jew and parochial and bigoted Zionists, this letter is published today in response:

Antony Lowenstein subjects us to his usual wild and vicious diatribe against Israel and adds a call for a “campaign to boycott Israel” (Letters, 14/6). Sadly, one is no longer shocked by such anti-Israel statements. Anti-Zionism has become so widespread and “politically correct” and it is so extreme and so divorced from political and historic reality that one suspects that it masks even more dangerous and more ancient hatreds.

The call for a boycott of Israel is an indictment not only of Lowenstein’s political judgement — Israel is, after all, the only true democracy in the Middle East — but also of his commitment to democracy. Whatever happened to the idea that open and free debate, argument and counter-argument, are central and crucial to democratic discourse? Why would anyone call for a boycott of Israel when examples of regimes that really are awful abound? Does Lowenstein favour a boycott of China, Burma, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Russia, North Korea?

Lowenstein would claim to be a progressive and clearly sees himself as the voice of progress. If his views do indeed represent progress and thus the future, I fear that there are dark days ahead for us all.


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