Antony Loewenstein (NSW) responds to “Racism risk in call for Israeli boycott” The Australian 22Sep09 PUBLISHED September 22, 2009

Context is everything

The Weekend Australian: “Racism risk in calls for Israeli boycott” by Philip Mendes and Nick Dyrenfurth,. 19-20 September 2009

THIS week a leading US Jewish newspaper, The Forward, has published an article with the headline “Palestinian-led movement to boycott Israel is gaining support”. It explains how the global and targeted “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” campaign against Israel has exploded due to Israel’s refusal to abide by international law by continually expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank and blockading 1.6 million Gazans.

Instead of addressing ways to alleviate this suffering, Philip Mendes and Nick Dyrenfurth (“Racism risk in call for Israeli boycott”, Focus, 19-20/9) accuse Australian supporters of the BDS movement, including me, of trying to “prevent a large number of students, Jewish and non-Jewish, from learning about the rich history of the Jewish people”. This is simply untrue.

Context is everything. For example, Israeli institutions, filmmakers, academics, security firms or universities directly connected to the ongoing subjugation of the Palestinian people will be isolated. Supporting in any way the ever-expanding occupation on Palestinian land, in direct contravention of international law, is intolerable to millions of concerned citizens around the world. Tellingly ignored by Mendes and Dyrenfurth is the fact that Palestinian institutions in the West Bank overwhelming support a global BDS campaign to highlight their desperate situation.

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