Israel is unique in one very important way: for other malefactors like Syria and Sudan, there is no need to convince the international public of their wrongs.
If it wasn’t a persuasive argument, Israel’s defenders wouldn’t keep using it, like they are now against Alice Walker: Why are these left-wingers singling Israel out for boycott, not to mention condemnation, when so many other countries are committing far worse injustices and causing so much more suffering? Why aren’t these people boycotting Syria, or Iran, or the Taliban, or Sudan, or Eritrea, or Zimbabwe, or China, or Saudi Arabia, or any of the other regimes and movements whose human rights violations are in a completely different league than Israel’s?
And the answer given by Israel’s defenders, of course, is that these left-wingers with their BDS and their Israel Apartheid Week are simply anti-Semites. “If the only country you want to label is Israel, that’s anti-Semitism,” as the Israel Lobby’s elder statesman, Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman, recently told The Times of Israel. And it’s not just the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd who accepts this argument; even liberals who genuinely oppose the occupation and criticize Israel forthrightly argue that this country shouldn’t be singled out for punishment when there are so many more deserving candidates, and these liberals, too, suspect that anti-Semitism is, if not the driving force behind this relentless focus on Israel, then it’s one of them.
In a July 2012 post, I wrote that the Western left was obsessed with Israel for the same reason it had been obsessed with South African apartheid, with the Vietnam War and with European colonialism before: because the Western left is peopled overwhelmingly by the “haves” of the world, and “left-wing haves naturally recoil when they see fellow haves lording it over the have-nots. … For a leftist, that is the ugliest thing on earth, even when elsewhere, other have-nots are being beaten up much worse by ‘their own.’” I still think that, but there’s also a simpler, less psychological, even fairly obvious reason why there’s a Western movement to boycott Israel but not to boycott Syria, Iran, Sudan, Eritrea or other countries whose regimes practice a much “darker” form of repression on their victims than Israel does on the Palestinians.
The reason is that while these other states are, indeed, worse criminals...Read More