ELKAN’S VIEW 17 June 2015
Anti-Semitism is an old and dangerous concept, but it mutates in different forms and requires different responses. Its latest form is BDS, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to strip Israel of its status in the world, to present Jews in the Diaspora with an ultimate choice between supporting Israel or living in Europe, and ultimately to create a situation where no one will stand up for the State of Israel or the Jewish people.
The centre of this movement, certainly in Europe, appears to be the United Kingdom where universities that ought to be fortresses of honesty and free speech are becoming centres for organised hatred. In many universities Jewish students are denied a fair hearing, and any attempt to tell the truth as it really is on the ground is howled down. To get a fair balanced hearing from the BBC is virtually impossible, and too many of society’s “opinion formers” are determined not to let the facts get in the way of their prejudices.
As Lord Sacks said last week, BDS “is the latest incarnation of the denial to Jews as a distinctive faith and people of the right to be: the right to govern themselves in the land of their beginnings.”
The touchstone by which human behaviour is currently measured is Human Rights, in which Israel is vilified normally without just cause, while at the same time every other breach of human rights is simply ignored. Where are the mass demonstrations about the atrocities in Syria, the church protesting about the treatment of its own adherents in the Muslim world, the mass tragedies in Nigeria and other places; can you imagine the ongoing horror felt by the parents of one of the girls abducted by Boko Haram?
A high-level group of foreign Generals has recently investigated last year’s war and the behaviour of the two sides. They found that the IDF’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli lives, while Hamas were responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths in Gaza. I wonder how much this will be publicised and how long it will be remembered.