St Andrews J-Soc Ball cancelled following threats

It was reported this morning that the Golf Hotel in St Andrews had cancelled a J-Soc Ball, scheduled for tonight, because of pressure from protestors who objected to the fact that proceeds from the ball were going to support charities which included the Jewish National Fund and Friends of the Israeli Defence Forces, as well as Elem, which seeks to help homeless Jewish and Arab youth in Israel.

The hotel manager explained that he had received threatening phone calls and emails, and felt that a planned demonstration by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee raised health and safety concerns for the hotel’s staff and guests.  Although people should be free to demonstrate, the SPSC typically goes further, and tries to disrupt and close down events of which it disapproves. In 2011 a member of the SPSC was found guilty of a racist breach of the peace after he abused a Jewish student’s flag of Israel.

A spokesman from the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council expressed his great disappointment that a ‘hotel of its stature had caved in so easily to intimidation’.

Update: The ball eventually went ahead in an undisclosed location.  Here’s some more information about the more aggressive responses it attracted.

Fears arose that the protest would turn violent when anti-Semitic comments were posted on Facebook. One protester wrote: “Friday we send them into hell.” Another, commenting on the police’s presence at the ball, said: “Mi5 Mossad boot boys don’t stand a chance.”

The SPSC spokesperson condemned any threats.

30 Responses to “St Andrews J-Soc Ball cancelled following threats”

  1. Noga Says:

    “A spokesman from the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council expressed his great disappointment that a ‘hotel of its stature had caved in so easily to intimidation’.”

    It’s not their fight, Why would they risk anything at all? The complaint should go directly to those who were doing the intimidating and a complaint for severe human rights abuse and violation should be lodged with the police in that city. The people who were doing the intimidating should be receiving calls from the police. This is a state matter. It is not an issue for Jews alone to fight.

    • Lynne T Says:

      Agreed that the people who threatened violence should be charged, but there’s also a corporate responsibility here that was missed as well as one of public order.

  2. Larry Ray Says:

    These fascist thugs don’t pretend any more to distinguish ‘Israel’ from ‘Jews’. Instead of cancelling the hotel should have informed te police and the CST.

    • Sabbath Jew Says:

      And that is precisely the problem.
      Jews overwhelmingly have a connection with Israel (as opposed to this or that Israeli government). There are religious connections (as in liturgy, as I mentioned before); there are political connections (as in the constitutions of jsocs); there are charitable connections (as in this Scottish instance); there are familial connections; there are cultural (widely understood) connections.

      From these facts it seems obvious that virtually all Jewish institutions, organisations and societies can now be considered ‘legitimate targets’, as objects of threats and intimidation.

      If anything shows the absurdity of separating ‘Jews’ from ‘Israel’ in these contexts as the recent tribunal decision did, then the actions of the anonymous ‘protestors’ does.

      Of course, some will argue that by acknowledging these objective connections, then Jews lay themselves open to antisemitic attacks because of what Israel does. But that presumes notions of ‘collective guilt’ (connecton does not imply or incude respnsibility, any more than individual Catholics are responsible for child abuse carried out by ordained members of the church and ‘covered up’ by institutions) and the related one that antisemitism is a legitimate and automatic response to Israeli ‘wrongs’ (or in this case the existence of Israel period) both of which are expressions of racism pure and simple.

    • Jacob Arnon Says:

      That’s it Larry. The establishment should have called the police since by giving they are only encouraging the fascist thugs as you call them and I agree.

      These actions remind me of how gangsters who extort shop owners for protection money work.

  3. Sabbath Jew Says:

    At my synagogue this morning – and I should think in most synagogues across the country – the weekly prayer for the state of Israel was said.
    Perhaps we can now expect threats of disruption to our Sabbath services. But since it has been ruled that Israel is not part of Jewish identity or religion (despite its place in liturgy) such protests would no doubt be considered nothing more than the ordinary business of politics.

    (Compare this particular prayer (actually said by real jews in some services)

    Click to access prayerforchildrenofabrahamibrahim.pdf

    with what people who know nothing of what they speak imagine Jews, Zionists and Israelis say,

  4. Brian Robinson Says:

    Speaking for myself only, I wouldn’t be happy simply expressing dismay (as I do) over the hotel’s cancellation, and not happy simply condemning (as I do) the making and sending of ‘threatening phone calls and emails’ (a matter for the police). As sarah’s note says, ‘people should be free to demonstrate’. And yes, as Sabbath Jew remarks, ‘Jews overwhelmingly have a connection with Israel’ (although sometimes it is of a negative kind); but what sort of Israel would I want to connect with?

    (There’s a comparable question to be asked of anyone campaigning for an independent state of Palestine: What kind of Palestine? Which of several competing, proleptic ‘Palestines’? That of Hamas, or that of Shlomo Sand’s female Arabic students who told him no way would they ever accept a misogynistic theocratic polity?)

    Scottish PSC’s tactics can be condemned, and I’ve condemned them (eg over the Jerusalem Quartet). But there’s a case to be answered, as for instance outlined briefly in this Early Day Motion 2 years ago Yes, one might say that it was sponsored and signed by ‘all the usual suspects'(mostly Labour and not a single Tory in the list) but I would feel I was being intellectually dishonest if I tried to claim that JNF was innocent of all the charges levelled against it.

    Nor could I try to claim that the IDF was always a moral army (leave aside whether the phrase ‘moral army’ is in any case oxymoronic).

    But I well remember a phrase current around the time of the anti-Cruise missile protests 30 years ago that went something like this: ‘You have rights — until you try to exercise them’. Cf ‘You can demonstrate, as long as your little show isn’t having any effect’.

    I imagine that SPSC may have decided that they’re not going to exercise their right to make protests that do little more than give establishment mouthpieces the chance to boast about what a fine, free society we have that tolerates such dissent. And so they, as Sarah rightly notes, opted to try ‘to disrupt and close down events’. Thus it often is that groups which start out highmindedly working for liberation and justice end up as authoritarian, freespeech-denying oppressors. (And in history some of them have gone on to slaughter millions.)

    So I don’t defend SPSC and its tactics, but I can’t defend JNF either. As regards FIDF, the Mission Statement sounds like a thoroughly good thing: ‘FIDF initiates and helps support educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs & facilities for the young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland. FIDF also supports the families of fallen soldiers’.

    If I were an Israeli, I can easily imagine myself giving money to that cause, but I’m not so sure that I could make a case for my donating as an outsider.

    • Noga Says:

      A perfect example of the argument I’ve been trying to make here, which I would call “the sympathy for the battered wife’s husband fallacy. The tragic flaw in any attempt to battle antisemitism by sorting and picking good Jews. JNF – bad. IDF- perhaps, good, not sure, certainly not worth support.

      “They disapprove when he beats her. Or at least most of them do. But some, while professing to disapprove, seem not entirely unimpressed by Derek’s reasons. They tell each other that Elaine’s voice can indeed be irritating, and that it’s ‘understandable’ that Derek should have been upset at not being able to find the car keys. They agree among themselves that the couple’s children can be a genuine cause of exasperation.

      Though they say that Derek shouldn’t beat Elaine, they are keen on recognizing his grievances. And he knows this.”

    • Sabbath Jew Says:

      I am not defending the IDF and am aware of the controversy around the JNF and support Elem. I support fully the right to demonstrate. But with respect, that is not the point.

      The point I was making was that the connection jews have with Israel means that virtually any Jewish event will be the potential subject of threats and disruption. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the premise for threats and even legal demonstration turns not on the question of ‘what Israel one wants to connect with’ but with the connection with Israel per se.

      I am afraid that following the protests against the Jerusalem Quartet, the Israeli theatre company at the cultural Olympiad and now a jsoc ball, the idea that they were motivated by this or that policy (or even Israel’s continued operation) or this or that Israeli institution or charity is misplaced. The threats and demonstrations do not turn on the rational question of what type of Israel do Jews connect or should connect with, but rather on the connection of Jews with Israel per se. As i noted earlier, the connection jews have with Israel is quite abstract and general. As I also noted, connection is distinct from responsible, and so to demand of Jews that they connect with only this or that version of Israel before being left in peace is to confuse the two and is to say the least is problematic.

      This observation is partly evidenced by the refusal of spsc and other anti-Zionist organisations to differentiate between Israel and the OT’s as well as remaining silent as to what conditions need be met for the threat of BDS to be lifted.

      In other words, while you and I may well have a decent conversation on what type of Israel we would like to see (and probably agree) this is distinct from the abstract and objective connection jews feelwith the abstract idea of a Jewish state (the very abstraction that I believe is the object of anti-Zionist (as opposed to pro-Palestinian) activism.)

  5. zkharya Says:

    [but I can’t defend JNF either]

    The JNF isn’t a state institution, it is a private one. It may lease its land to whom it wills, and one may donate to it. Israel exists because of a Jewish national impulse from the diaspora. It is that impulse with which SPSC has a (possibly eliminationist) problem. It is going for the jugular, as it sees it, as it were.

    Typically SPSC hasn’t kept up to date, but probably doesn’t care either: it is going after private Jewish citizens who support Israel in a private capacity.

    That is both dangerous and antisemitic (or I can’t really tell the difference), though I think the former quality the more pressing.

    • Lynne T Says:

      SPSC goes after anyone who supports Israel in any capacity, including Ishmael Khaldi who might know a touch more about whether or not Israel is an apartheid state than that mob of yobs who are more interested in self-aggrandizement than promoting any sort of reconciliation between the parties.

  6. zkharya Says:

    [In September 2007, the High Court heard a further Adalah petition seeking cancellation of an ILA policy as well as Article 27 of the Regulations of the Obligations of Tenders, which in concert prevent Arab citizens from participating in bids for JNF-controlled land.[48] The High Court of Justice agreed to delay a ruling by at least four months, and a temporary settlement was reached (following the compromise proposed in 2005 by Menachem Mazuz) wherein, although the JNF would be prevented from discriminating on grounds of ethnicity, nevertheless every time land is sold to a non-Jew, the ILA would compensate it with an equivalent amount of land, thus ensuring the total amount of land owned by Jewish Israelis remains the same.[3]]

  7. zkharya Says:

    This a variation on the Ben White theme of ‘the Jewish law of return is racist because it is only for Jews’, despite the fact that the whole conflict devolves to the fact that Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians would no more allow Jews a right to return/immigrate to Palestine than they would (openly, at least) sell them land.

    It at best tells half the story.

  8. Absolute observer Says:

    I think that the shift from threats to Israeli events to those of Anglo-Jewish events is a very dangerous turning/tipping point for the lives and safety of Jews living in the uk.

    • Jacob Arnon Says:

      They are trying to get at the Israeli events by threatening Anglo-Jewry. But you are right it is a dangerous turning point which has to be countered hopefully through legal means.

      • Sabbath Jew Says:

        It was not an Israeli event. It was a jsoc event that was raising moneys for Israeli charities. Essentially it was threatened because of the connection between uk Jews and Israel. As I have been saying, since that connection appears in many, if not, most events and institutions (including most synagogues) it means that almost all dimensions of Anglo-Jewish activity is now under threat. After all, most charity collections at synagogues on the day of atonement includes at least one Israeli charity. According to the Scottish example, it would be justifiable to threaten synagogues for that reason.
        I think this is is point that a
        Absolute Observer is making?

  9. Sarah AB Says:

    There’s now a brief update – the ball was eventually able to take place in an undisclosed location.

    • Noga Says:

      That’s some consolation, Sarah. A social event involving law abiding, ethical British citizens has to take place in secret as if it is some shameful activity that needs to be done out of sight. It is a disgrace. Where are your MPs? Where is the media’s outrage?

      I can’t help feeling in most of the responses here the extreme caution of having to declare first and foremost: I don’t support the JNF. A modern variation on Shibboleth.

      Israel is a tiny tiny country. There are only 6 million Jews doing their damnedest to maintain a Jewish homeland and preserve a culture, an identity, a civilization that has nearly been rendered extinct in centuries of persecutions and annihilation. There are special laws extended to the preservation of nearly extinct animal species that are more aggressive than anything the JNF does in order to maintain Jewish/Israeli/Hebrew ownership over the land. The JNF’s work is necessary until such time as Jewish hold over Israel is secure and unthreatened, the way Brits are secure in their possession of their island. THAT condition is not up to Israel. THAT is something that only the Arabs can guarantee. How come all this tearing of hair and wailing and moral assault are directed at the poorer weaker side on this conflict? How come you people cannot see the deep injustice in siding with the rich man who would take the poor man’s only ewe? How come these BDSers have managed to turn this very simple equation on its head, so much so that even people who support Israel do so with all sorts of caveats?

      • David Olesker Says:

        As it happens I was just in St. speak to the J-soc last week. They were probably the least militant group I have ever encountered. The session included at least two members of the Islamic society, one of whom came over for a friendly schmooze with me afterwards. If the actions of a group like this are thought to justify hounding Jews out of the public sphere then we are in a bad way (but no one on this page needs me to tell them that!).

        Good news; While I can’t approve of an official Jewish student party being help on a Friday night, at least they refused to be intimidated by a group of self righteous, mendacious bully boys.

        Bad news: they were forced to run the event in secret under police protection.

        See the local student paper report (and look at some of the comments!) here: — in St Andrews, Scotland.

  10. Brian Robinson Says:

    Well, it might be an interesting experiment in validation / falsification. Let’s say a Christian Zionist organisation wanted to hold an event with proceeds to go to JNF, FIDF and other similar charities (perhaps such events have taken place in the USA? I don’t know of any in the UK). The thought experiment suggests that the event would still be threatened. This wouldn’t mean that the imputation of antisemitic motives to the demonstrators was false, since their ultimate targets would be the same as in the Scottish case. But it would be clear (wouldn’t it?) that the correct framework for viewing the protests would be politics and not race? (Of course this gets more complicated if you consider, as I do, that Christian Zionism is itself inherently antisemitic, so perhaps there’s a much better experiment one could conduct?)

    • zkharya Says:

      But you might as well say that a Christian organization that was attacked for cementing Christian-Jewish relations was merely so for ‘religious’ rather than ‘antisemitic’, on the alleged grounds that Christians should not associate with unbelievers, not that Jews couldn’t be Jews.

      By your definition, any attack on proxies for Jews rather than Jews themselves would absolve would-be or actual attacks on Jews of racist content or intent, because then ‘Jew’ has taken on strictly intellectual or figurative form.

      But SPSC wouldn’t choose such an organization because a) it would be hard to find, whereas a JSoc event is an easier, Juicier target and b) it wouldn’t be the JNF jugular, as I said. JSocs are (by comparison).

      The smarter BDSers are policing their own borders e.g. Stephen Sizer’s anathematizing all Christian sympathy for Zionism

      As for Christian Zionism’s being allegedly antisemitic, it rather depends on what one means by ‘Christian Zionism’, doesn’t it?

      If I might perform an equivalent thought experiment, I could argue that Christian Zionism can’t be antisemitic, because in origin, Christian anti-Judaism, antisemitism and anti-Zionism were one and the same and wholly indistinguishable. The church fathers made no real distinction in their discourse.

    • zkharya Says:

      SPSC’s gripe with JNF is because of its Zionism: its belief and actions that secured and secure part of the land for Jewish use in perpertuity.

      This is only way any kind of Israel or Jewish state could have been established, which is fundamentally SPSC’s gripe.

      The gripe is indistinguishable from that against diaspora Jews’ support or sympathy for Zionism generally: by attacking the ball, SPSC is seeking to sever that link by force. It is an act of violence, which smarter BDSers hope to effect by isolation.

      That is why the Christian thing is a bit irrelevant, in my view. It is not chiefly Christian support that is the ‘problem’: it is Jewish support.

      It is indeed a political protest. But it is also an attack on Jewish sympathy with Israel and Zionism generally, which is something that is intimately connected with understanding and experience of Jewish history, and tradition, and to that extent Judaism.

      I don’t think the categories of Jew or Judaism are innately politically valueless terms. The hope for a Jewish restoration is an innately political one, its being innately to do with the restoration of some kind of Jewish state.

      Inevitably it is also an attack on all these. Politics, yes. But the politics, I think, of antisemitism, or as close as paleo-, classical or old school antisemitism gets to the new variety.

      Ancient Christian anti-Judaism, antisemitism and anti-Zionism were innately political: the end, forever, of any kind of Jewish state.

  11. Sabbath jew Says:

    ‘You people’??
    Intersting isn’t it Noga that just like the bdsers it is you that seamlessly shift from threats to Jews in the UK to a nationalistic intransigent reading of Israel. It is as if you are incapable of making a division between the freedom of uk Jews and the current politics of Israel (in which it would appear that Israel bears no responsibility whatsoevdr for the current impasse).
    As I have tried to explain Jews have a connection to Israel as a Jewish state. That is not the same thing as holding ‘unconditional support’ for any given policy or policies. Nor is it the same as not accepting and respecting a sovereign Palestine state alongside Israel (and at the same time rejecting the politics of some of the players there, such as Hamas, the xenophobia of the ‘Israel home’ party as well as the less comparable politics of Likud).
    As with all nationalists you seem to think that ‘connection’ demands silence in the face of what some of us see as unplatable policies. Indeed, the very silence that those who threaten Jews are also aiming at albeit via different means – to date anyway)

    All this is in many ways beside the point.
    Reading over the past few threads, this is not the first time you have sought to hijack a thread about threats to uk jews and to turn it into a discussion of Israel. Again, another thing you share with anti-Zionists.

    (And judging from your recent comments, I now expect a torrent if abuse from you – need I point out any further similarities with the ‘thugs’ alluded to above)

    • Jacob Arnon Says:

      Sabbath jew Says:
      “As I have tried to explain Jews have a connection to Israel as a Jewish state. That is not the same thing as holding ‘unconditional support’ for any given policy or policies. Nor is it the same as not accepting and respecting a sovereign Palestine state alongside Israel (and at the same time rejecting the politics of some of the players there, such as Hamas, the xenophobia of the ‘Israel home’ party as well as the less comparable politics of Likud).”
      I happen to agree with some of what SJ said, however we are dealing with people who don’t make such fine distinctions. They are motivated to attack British Jews by the very existence of the “Jewish State” and not by certain governmental policies in Israel.
      Posting overt or implied threats on their website (even if they later rescind them) aims at warning Jews that their support of Israel may lead to some sort of violence.

      This it seems to me should be the focus of this discussion and not who supports what and under what conditions. The BDS’s would like nothing better than for British Jews to focus on their support of Israel and not on the illegal behavior of their members. (I assume that threatening violence is as illegal in Great Britain as it is in the US.)

  12. Absolute observer Says:

    Noga, I am afraid that it is you, not me who have fallen into the trap set be the BDS campaign. It is they who have created the framework that allows those who recognise Israel’s legal and political existence to be charicatured as ‘supporters’ of Israel as if it were merely a subjective issue.
    I am not a ‘supporter’ of Israel anymore than I am a supporter of England, the USA, china, Iran, or any other state. I many or may not like the governments or regimes in some of these states, but not do I question their right to exist; a questioning implied by the label of ‘supporter’.

    • David Olesker Says:

      I’m afraid that, like it or not, all of us who think that Israel’s right to exist should be beyond question are in the same boat named, “supporters of Israel”. This forum illustrates that, regardless of our divisions on matters of Israeli government policy, we are united on that simple issue. And even agreement on what should be so uncontroversial a point invites the ire of anti-Israel advocates.

      What of UK Jews? Are they the target of antisemitic persocution? Well (according to the anti-Israel advocates) there are two kinds of Jews in the UK; “good Jews” who oppose Israel and “bad Jews” who don’t. That makes all of us (at least the Jewish ones here) “bad Jews”. Of course that’s not racist any more than the Inquisition was racist since it offers us the opportunity to “redeem” ourselves through conversion to becoming “good Jews”.

      (Regarding Brian Robinson thought experiment regarding Christian Zionists, I suppose they are “as bad as” those “bad Jews”.).

      • Absolute observer Says:

        As many on engage have argued, while the boycott may not of itself be antisemitic, it cannot but bring antisemitism in its wake; a point proved by the following,
        ‘Two days before the event was due to take place, the Golf Hotel cancelled the event over safety concerns. Fears arose that the protest would turn violent when anti-Semitic comments were posted on Facebook. One protester wrote: “Friday we send them into hell.” Another, commenting on the police’s presence at the ball, said: “Mi5 Mossad boot boys don’t stand a chance.’

        Moreover, it was precisely through those antisemitic threats that the ‘activists’ appear to disown, that gave them their ‘victory’.

        ‘A spokesperson said: “We are of the understanding that a small minority of the many individuals who lobbied the Hotel and the organisers directly may have expressed themselves in an unacceptable manner [ an admittance that ‘criticism’ of israel can be articulated through the language of antisemitism or alternatively, that some comments concerning Israel are themselves antisemitic] condemn this as is appropriate.

        “While we do not know the full details of any comments made, the Hotel manager accepted the assurances of the SPSC that those who may have engaged in threatening or otherwise unacceptable conduct were unknown to and acted without the support of any of the organising parties.

        “We are encouraged that the call for the Golf Hotel to withdraw its support for the event was heeded, it illustrates the increasing anathemitisation of organisations such as FIDF and the JNF, and the scale of opposition to their activities.’

        But they are being disingenuous.

        The only reason the hotel cancelled was because of the threat of antisemitic violence and not the “cause’ itself.
        On the one hand, the ‘activists’ disavow the threats and the antisemitism while, on the other hand, they gain from its consequences.
        Sounds familiar?

  13. Jacob Arnon Says:

    David Olesker Says: “That makes all of us (at least the Jewish ones here) “bad Jews”. Of course that’s not racist any more than the Inquisition was racist since it offers us the opportunity to “redeem” ourselves through conversion to becoming “good Jews”.”

    The inquisition wasn’t only racist it was the beginning or racism since in Spain it targeted mainly Jews who had converted to Christianity. These people were referred to as Marranos (or pigs). Every “Marrano” was a suspect. Marranos were also known as “new Christians” as opposed to the
    rest of the population who referred to themselves as “old Christians.”.
    These divisions led to the notion of “limpieza de sangre” or “clean” (pure) blood.

    Racism is the consequence of the creation of socio-political distinctions among groups of people and there is no reason not to expect that those make a distinction among Jews in England today based on support of Israel will be (or already are) playing with racists notions.

  14. Jacob Arnon Says:

    Absolute observer Says:

    “As many on engage have argued, while the boycott may not of itself be antisemitic, it cannot but bring antisemitism in its wake; a point proved by the following,’
    ‘Two days before the event was due to take place, the Golf Hotel cancelled the event over safety concerns. Fears arose that the protest would turn violent when anti-Semitic comments were posted on Facebook. One protester wrote: “Friday we send them into hell.” Another, commenting on the police’s presence at the ball, said: “Mi5 Mossad boot boys don’t stand a chance.’’”

    I agree with AO up to a point.

    However, I would like to bring up another issue. Why the hysterical instance by the boycotters that focusing on Israel and only Israel is the right thing to do?

    Thinks about it, we are witnessing the destruction of an Arab country Syria by its ruling class. They have already murdered 70 + thousand people, (and as many driven into exile) Egypt is on the brink of bankruptcy if it’s not already bankrupt which must be terrifying to all those with a modicum of common sense since it may mean mass starvation and death.

    Yet here we have a group of “know nothings” (a right wing American political stance which applies to the benighted BDS folk as well) argue that Israel’s existence is what is immoral? How did they arrive at that conclusion? Do the lives of Syrians matter less than the lives of Palestinians?

    I find this incomprehensible except as expression of bigotry (racist or not). Can they anyone explain this to me? Can the BDSers?

  15. Brian Robinson Says:

    I’m seriously considering writing to the next Nobel Laureate designate (probably in physics, but it could be any discipline really). I’d most likely take a typical BDS letter format as a model but I’d ask them to consider declining to accept the prize and refuse to go to Stockholm on the grounds that ‘Sweden [as of 2008] Ranks Second in the World in Per Capita Weapons Exports’. Or at least if they don’t refuse, to do as Amy Goodman did when she was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the ‘Alternative Nobel’. She accepted and took the gong from the Swedish Parliament, and promptly wrote a piece and did a long news report (both on DemocracyNow!) highly critical of the Swedish arms export trade.

    Here’s an extract: ‘Institutions like the Nobel Prize have helped link Sweden’s international reputation to peace and reconciliation, but few people know Sweden is also one of the world’s top exporters of weapons. Sweden is among the world’s top arms exporters in per capita terms. Its clients include the United States and Britain, with shipments more than doubling since 2000 …’ (Remind you of anything BDS says about how, according to them, Israel uses its impressive intellectual achievements and prize awards as hasbarah?)

    As the Campaign Against Arms Trade remarks … Oh no, it’s far too much to quote, instead, see here: I look forward to the day when some of the comrades lift their eyes to wider horizons and realise that Israel isn’t the sole source of political instability and conflict in the world. A Swedish activist on the DN broadcast said, ‘We sell weapons to countries at war and to countries who seriously violate human rights, and still these sales just grow bigger and bigger, so we feel that we, as ordinary citizens, have a responsibility to act then and to physically try to stop these weapons from being shipped off … ‘

    Goodman: And Bofors is where Alfred Nobel actually established the weapons industry. Activist: It was, yes, in Karlskoga … [And another group is] Saab, Bofors Dynamics …Swedish-owned, by Saab …’

    Goodman: [W]e think of Saab [in the USA] as the automaker]… But Saab here [in Sweden, AG was accepting the prize] is not the automaker [which was bought by General Motors] but just the weapons manufacturer? Activist: Yes. Saab now is Sweden’s biggest weapons manufacturer.’

    One could multiply examples from around the world, eg here’s SIPRI (latest figures), where I have reluctantly to admit that the figures for Israel don’t do an awful lot to help my case here, although on second thoughts, yes they do, BDS friends, don’t stop at Israel when you write in, move down just one line to nice, socially liberal, peace-and-reconciliation Sweden.

    So why, as Jacob asks above, Israel and only Israel? It’s that old scapegoat thing once again isn’t it. The problems of the world are too complex, too synergistically entangled to grasp for information-overloaded short attention spans. So much easier, and maybe so much more comforting, not to bother lazy heads with, and let Jewish Israel take it for all the rest.

    The great primatologist, Frans de Waal, wrote (in Our Inner Ape: The best and the worst of human nature, Granta 2005, 2006):

    ‘[E]very society has its scapegoats, but the most extreme cases I have known concerned newly established groups of macaques … In my experience of managing primates, there’s no point in giving in to the temptation of removing the scapegoat: the next day another individual will take its place. There is an obvious need for a receptacle of tensions … What makes scapegoating so effective is that it’s a double-edged sword. First, it releases tension among the dominants. Attacking an innocent harmless bystander is obviously less risky than attacking each other. Second, it rallies the higher-ups around a common cause. While threatening the scapegoat, they bond with each other, sometimes mounting and embracing, indicating that they stand united.

    ‘It’s a total charade, of course: primates often pick enemies that hardly matter.In one monkey group, all the members would run to their water basin and threaten their own reflections. Unlike humans and apes, monkeys don’t recognize their reflections as themselves, so they’d found an enemy group that conveniently didn’t fight back.

    [De Waal continues with a discussion of displacement of aggression amongst primates, as well as the origins of the term ‘scapegoating’.]

    ‘For modern man, scapegoating refers to inappropriate demonization, vilification, accusation, and persecution. Humanity’s most horrific scapegoating was the Holocaust … We surround this process with symbolism and pick victims based on things like skin colour, religion, or a foreign accent. We also take care never to admit to the sham that scapegoating actually is. In this regard, we’re more sophisticated than other animals. But it’s undeniable that scapegoating is one of the most basic, most powerful, least conscious psychological reflexes of the human species, one shared with so many other animals that it may well be hardwired.’ [End of Quotation]

    So superimpose on this prepared matrix the weight of history and cultural prejudice. And while Israel isn’t the only offender, or the worst one, it’s a great ready-made stand-in for the whole. I remember how when I worked in large hospitals in the NHS, the management often couldn’t deal with the really big problems, the systemic flaws, so they would pick (and this happened many times) on the misdemeanors of the little guys and magnify them, investing them with all the gravity of the larger crimes. Israel’s no angel, but of all the countries in the world that equally aren’t angels, it alone doesn’t deserve to be branded as the devil that must be boycotted.

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