More roadblock than roadmap 1

May 20, 2005

The attempt by Hilary and Steven Rose to justify a boycott of Israeli academics highlights the core fallacy of their cause - the comparison between the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Arab-Israeli dispute ("Sanctions can work", Soapbox, May 13).

This invalid analogy diminishes the suffering of the black population of South Africa by exploiting it to justify a radical pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli bias. There is no question that the Middle East conflict is tragic and has taken a huge toll on Jews as well as Arabs, but this is in no way comparable to South African history.

The Roses have censored and selected the evidence to fit their political predispositions. They limit the conflict to its Israeli-Palestinian dimensions with no mention of the involvement of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran in the numerous wars and terror attacks. Also, they have conveniently erased the first and most important UN resolution in 1947, which called for partition of the territory into two states - one for the Jewish inhabitants and one for the Arabs.

The Jewish leadership agreed, but the Arabs rejected this division and launched a military assault in direct violation of the UN Charter. Three decades and many wars later, Egypt was the first to end the state of war, but elsewhere, the conflict continues - crushing the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes.

Such misleading and selective claims - designed to turn Israel into a pariah state - also devalue the impact of valid criticism of Israeli responses to decades of violence. And by taking the side of the more radical and violent Palestinians, those who endorse this boycott undermine the fragile process of restoring some cooperation and hope for a peace based on compromise and mutual acceptance.

Gerald M. Steinberg
Bar-Ilan University, Israel

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