Israel boycott not anti-Semitic 1

June 1, 2007

I am sad to hear that Steven Weinberg has decided to call off his visit to the UK (Letters, May 25). But I am even sadder to learn that his reasons for doing so involve repeating the old canard that the Israel boycotters are anti-Semitic.

This approach racialises a simple argument that focuses on the actions of the Israeli state and the complicity of its universities in occupying the West Bank and Gaza. Leaving aside the fact that many of those calling for a boycott are Jewish, the impetus for this action comes from the fact that Western governments have failed to exert any meaningful pressure on the Israeli state to treat Palestinians with the dignity all human beings have a right to expect.

I would take Weinberg's decision far more seriously if he addressed the issue of the Israeli occupation, rather than relying on ad hominem arguments that serve to prolong the status quo and thereby prolong the suffering of the Palestinians.

Jules Townshend
Manchester Metropolitan University

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