Café’s Israel boycott becomes PR disaster

This piece by Marcus Dysch, is from the Jewish Chronicle.

A café owner has apologised for displaying a sign declaring “Jews are welcome”, saying it was a bid to allay fears that his boycott of Israeli goods could be interpreted as being antisemitic.

Chris Boddington said he was open about his boycott and support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at Café Crema in New Cross, south-east London. But he realised a boycott of Israeli produce could be equated with antisemitism.

The nearby Goldsmiths College owns the café and is Mr Boddington’s landlord. Many customers are Goldsmiths’ students or academics. In an attempt to reassure Jewish customers, Mr Boddington wrote on a blackboard: “We do not use any Israeli products. We are not antisemitic but anti-fascist. Jews are as welcome here as anyone else.”

He admitted it had backfired and constituted a substantial “PR cock-up”.

He said: “I wanted to make it clear we are not antisemitic. But people have taken it as me singling out Jews. I have said sorry. We do not want to exclude anyone. I am also well aware there are plenty of decent Israelis, but I do not believe they will dismantle the settlements and end the occupation.”

David Hirsh, a Goldsmiths’ lecturer and editor of the Engage website, which campaigns against academic boycotts of Israel, said: “Antisemitic ‘cock-ups’ follow the boycott campaign wherever it goes. Not because the boycotters are Jew-haters. But because the campaign to single out Israelis for exclusion is antisemitic.”

This piece by Marcus Dysch, is from the Jewish Chronicle.

25 Responses to “Café’s Israel boycott becomes PR disaster”

  1. fred Says:

    “But he realised a boycott of Israeli produce could be equated with antisemitism.”

    He did?
    also, did he end the boycott, doesn’t say.

  2. John Wight Says:

    Yes, well done Dave. A pity the same courtesy isn’t and won’t be granted by a cafe owner in Jerusalem to a Palestinian living in Gaza.

    Those double standards really are a bastard, aren’t they?

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      It wasn’t a courtesy – it was somebody saying he made a cock-up. And if you ever apologise for referring to Israel as a “hydra headed monster” arrayed against “the forces of human progress”, nobody will consider that a courtesy either.
      Sorry John. I don’t want to talk about Gaza with you.

  3. Noga Says:

    “A pity the same courtesy isn’t and won’t be granted by a cafe owner in Jerusalem to a Palestinian living in Gaza.”

    I don’t get the analogy. Are Brits who happen to be Jews stand in relation to this Crema cafe owner in the same way that a Gazan Palestinian is related to an Israeli cafe owner in Jerusalem?

  4. modernityblog Says:

    Mira,

    doesn’t this whole episode indicate how many pro-boycotters haven’t really thought thru their views?

    and as we’ve seen below are largely unable or unwilling to substantiate their actions and thoughts in rational debate?

    I am disappointed that apart from two contributions that Chris of Cafe Creme didn’t avail himself of Engage’s help in working out what was discriminatory and wrong about boycotting Israelis.

    It is a shame that so many pro-boycotters have such a tin ear for the sound of anti-Jewish racism.

  5. letsgeteven Says:

    Goldsmith’s College is a publicly funded institution. It has no business allowing its tenants to engage in boycott campaigns against any national, ethnic or religious groups. They should be brought to heel, and if they refuse to force Cremona to reverse, they should be stripped of their grants.

  6. David Hirsh Says:

    The whole comment I gave the JC was as follows:

    “Antisemitic ‘cock-ups’ follow the boycott campaign wherever it goes. It isn’t because the boycotters are Jew-haters, they’re not. It is because the campaign to single out Israelis for exclusion is antisemitic. The boycotters can’t see it, but one result of their campaign is to portray Israel, and the Jews who oppose its exclusion, as being uniquely worthy of contempt. Antisemitic ‘slips’ don’t reflect what the boycotters think but they betray the unconscious assumptions of the anti-Zionist mentality.”

    John Wight is, himself, responsible for a number of these kinds of antisemitic “cock-ups”. He pushes antisemitic conspiracy theory. He uses racist language against Israel and Jews. He links to fascistic antisemitic websites. In fact John Wight does it so often and is so resistant when this is pointed out to him, that perhaps in his case my comment is not really applicable.

    But most people involved in the boycott campaign are not Jew-haters. They have just stumbled into antisemitic politics.

  7. Absolute Observer Says:

    “A pity the same courtesy isn’t and won’t be granted by a cafe owner in Jerusalem to a Palestinian living in Gaza.”

    A pity too that homeless people aren’t allowed into a shopping mall in the UK. (Those double-standards of double standards are real difficult for an [CENSORED FOR LEGAL REASONS] like John White)

  8. Absolute Observer Says:

    A pity too that Yemen sentences people to death for “forging ties with Israel”
    Or is that John Wight’s idea of utopia?

  9. John Wight Says:

    Well David

    At least in your libellous rants you remain consistent.

  10. David Hirsh Says:

    so sue me

  11. John Wight Says:

    Already looked into it. The cost proved prohibitive.

  12. David Hirsh Says:

    Yer right. You went to a lawyer. You told her that you’d written:

    “The state of Israel is a hydra-headed monster, comprising Zionist ethnic cleansers, US imperialists, and Arab collaborationist regimes. Arrayed against this monster are the forces of human progress.”

    and

    “As soon as the scales fall from the eyes of international Jewry with regard to the racist and fascist ideology that is Zionism, the world will begin to emerge from the iron heel of war and brutality in the Middle East.”

    “The … comment re Israel being a hydra-headed monster I stand by.”

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1627

    You asked your lawyer if you could sue David Hirsh for characterizing these comments as antisemitic.

    Your lawyer told you: “Of course John, sue him. You’d be bound to win. There is no way that these comments could be characterized as antisemitic. But it would be expensive.”

    And so you decided not to sue.

    You’re priceless John.

  13. 701 Says:

    So, yet again, another boycotter threatens Engage with libel.

    Reminds me of the Mastercard advert,

    “Lawyers. £500; Court time; £1000; Other Costs, £500.

    For everything else there is the truth.”

  14. zkharya Says:

    Here is some of John Wight’s latest:

    “The extent of this crime against an entire people reflected the horror of the crime committed by the Nazis which preceded it. Those who sought sanctuary in another’s land did so in the name of the victims of that holocaust. But perpetrators of crimes against humanity can never claim to act on behalf of victims of crimes against humanity. It is indeed a cruel irony of history that the victims of the genocide carried out by the Nazis are wedded to the victims of Israel’s barbarism which followed through a bond of human suffering that transcends ties of religion, race, or ethnicity.”

    Er, no. Palestinian and other Arab national leaders rejected partition and promulgated a war to thwart a Jewish state, dispossess Palestinian Jews, or worse. Not to mention their denial of Jews a refuge, even from genocide, and their leadership’s promulgating, from Berlin, the final solution for not only European and Palestinian Jews, but also the non- or anti-Zionist Jews of the Arab world.

    Zionist Jews did bad things. Bad things were threatened against them, and they ensure they failed. Worse things where done in other ethnic conflicts and state formations.

    For John Wight, there is only one side in this conflict: the Palestinian Christian and Muslim. The Israeli, Palestinian, Zionist Jewish case has no merit whatever.

    This Scots cultural if rather ignorant Catholic Christian alleged socialist seems to think that Zionist and Jewish history begins with the holocaust, that the Jews are a mere 60 years old, or so.

    But Jews have been regarded as displaced and dispossessed “Palestinians” for most of Christian and Islamic history. That is why, in the 19th and 20th centuries, most European, North African and Asian Jews were either murdered or effectively driven out, before 1914 to America, after 1914 to Palestine or what became Israel.

    The reason why Israel is the second or largest Jewish community in the world today is because for most of Christian and Islamic history Jews have been regarded, in some sense, as “Palestinians”, and that their original dispossession was entirely merited and deserved. How different Wight’s view of Palestinian Christian and Muslim dispossession.

    That history does not begin with the holocaust. It begins, at least, with the origins of Christianity and Islam, and the respective civilizations they spawned.

    Wight’s ignorance, ignoring or denial of that history is not the same as holocaust denial, but, it is not altogether unrelated, either. Further, it is a version of Edward W. Said’s “blaming the victims”.

    He is an ignorant yob.

  15. zkharya Says:

    “The village of Najd was destroyed and settled by Zionists in 1951. It has been known ever since as the Israeli town of Sderot.”

    No. Sderot was founded on land south of the village proper.

    Palestinian and other Arab national, state or other leaders threatened dispossession (arguably genocide) against Palestinian Jews. Palestinian, Israeli Jews won. That’s flat.

    In any case, Palestinian Christians and Muslims have been perfectly happy to regard Jews as justly dispossessed of temple, Jerusalem and the land of Israel, to the exaltation of the former and humiliation of the latter.

    Wight’s promulgation of the merits of only one party to this conflict is so extreme as to be de facto discriminatory and, arguably, racist. To deny Jews justice one accords Palestinian Christians and Muslims is hypocrisy at best, eliminationist at worst.

  16. Saul Says:

    “The extent of this crime against an entire people reflected the horror of the crime committed by the Nazis which preceded it.”

    Is not comparing what is going on in the OT (or, rather just Gaza) with nazi crimes a species of vindicating nazism along with holocaust denial?

    First, the Jews of Europe never declared war on Germany, nor called for its destruction, etc, and so forth.

    In making this comparison, John Wight is repeating a core theme of nazi propoganda; that the extermination was part of a (real and legitimate) war between Jews and “Aryans”.

    It was, of course, this idea which began the whole infernal affair.

    Secondly, apart from the first point, what is lacking in the OT at the moment is precisely those acts of the nazis which characterised nazi acts as a crime – amongst which, but not only is, of course, extermination.

    Therefore, in making the comparison, what is being affirmed is the nazi worldview (that the Jews were guilty of the crimes alleged by the nazis, including, of course, the crime of declaring war on Germany).

    What is being denied, is the facts of the extermination and the politics and policies which led to them.

    I am not for one moment implying that Wight is a nazi apologist nor a holocaust denier. (That should save him, and me, a few quid.)

    I am merely offering an interpretation of his comments; an interpretation he, himself, may not be aware of.

  17. Noga Says:

    “The extent of this crime against an entire people reflected the horror of the crime committed by the Nazis which preceded it.”

    This is a nice summary of the premise underlying “Seven Jewish Children”, and yes, it does constitute antisemitism, at least according to The EU’s Definition of Antisemitism:

    “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

    http://www.zionismontheweb.org/antisemitism/EU-definition-of-antisemitism.htm

  18. Jacob Says:

    “The village of Najd was destroyed and settled by Zionists in 1951. It has been known ever since as the Israeli town of Sderot.”

    I agree with Zkharya’s response to the above historically incorrect and defamatory comment.

    It should also be added that the people settled in Sderot which was built south of Najd were Jews who were expelled from North Africa especially Morocco.

    The young Israeli poet Shimon Adaf was born in Sderot and wrote this poem about the town:

    SDEROT

    It took me twenty years to love

    this hole in the middle of nowhere.

    The cotton buds dispersed in a white flame

    and the wind meddled in the cypresses,

    until I saw for the first time,

    with an accurate eye,

    the unsophisticated buildings beneath the roof of clouds,

    until I heard

    the wonderful rumbling of the street.

    The last whisper expelled from waves of asphalt

    blended with the rustle of evening’s thud on the ground,

    like the voice of a forgotten woman that betrayed her

    and told the truth which she tried

    to conceal in her face.

    Years of erosion

    have taught the children to fondle the water in the stone,
    to splash in the puddles paper boats with farcical hope.

    The circus-like past of the girls blossomed with the hiking of a skirt

    when the crowed sawed him in two with its gaze.

    Only places bereft of love are entitled to absolute love.

    http://israel.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=3481&x=1

    Here is more information about the poet:

    http://israel.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=3179

    and for those who can read Hebrew:

    http://mooma.mako.co.il//Biography.asp?ArtistId=3418

  19. antigerman Says:

    Re letsgeteven above, I think a formal boycott or putting pressure on the landlord would be wrong both tactically and morally. We need to win the arguments, persuade people. Most New Cross residents, Goldsmiths students, etc, would see absolutely nothing wrong with boycotting Israel: we need to help them understand the issues. Coming down heavy will not do this. And putting legal pressure will not only not persuade people, but potentially be counter-productive – it will be read as evidence of Zionist power, of behind-the-scenes manipulation. Instead, must win the arguments.

  20. Bob Says:

    I agree with antigerman. We need to win the arguments, not the law suits.

  21. Jacob Says:

    “And putting legal pressure will not only not persuade people, but potentially be counter-productive – it will be read as evidence of Zionist power, of behind-the-scenes manipulation. Instead, must win the arguments.”

    It’s no an either/or antigerman here is the US we peruse a double policy of litigation when needed as well as education of the issues.

    I should say also that the very fact that antisemites have forced Jews and others who want to counter anti-Jewish bigotry to temper their reaction lest a victory be seen as a sign of “too much Jewish power” means that they have already won an important victory.

    I can’t imagine Black people in the US or Jews for that matter worrying about how much power their enemies think they have.

    When charged with having too much power by antisemites the answer should be that as long as meaningful antisemitism exists Jews do not have enough power.

  22. Racist Thug, John Wight, Attacks Blog. « ModernityBlog Says:

    […] Here John Wight considers suing Engage for revealing his […]


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