Re: Beinart’s Slippery Slope on Boycotts (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Emanuele Ottolenghi 04/02/12)
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This weekend Jonathan weighed in on the letter signed by a number of
UK artists calling for a boycott of Israel’s Habima theatre company.
Had the letter not contained the names of celebrities Emma Thompson
and Mike Leigh, I doubt it would have made the splash it did – and,
to further Jonathan’s point about Peter Beinart and the role he plays
in delegitimating Israel, the letter’s signatories include the usual
suspects among the Jews-for-Justice-for-anyone-but-the-Jews, whose
fame, in the world of the performing arts, is more closely linked to
their anti-Zionist crusades than their artistic talents.
Still, one point deserves to be added to Jonathan’s excellent take-
The “artists” explain their call to target Habima on the grounds that
Habima performed in the Territories and that “By inviting Habima,
Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors
and playwrights who have refused to break international law.” The
inference here is that giving a stage to Habima will undermine those
in Israel who refused to go along and perform in Ariel and other
But it also suggests that performing in the Territories is a breach
of international law.
Now that’s something else. There is no clause in the Fourth Geneva
Convention forbidding theatre companies from performing a play in
Territories under military occupation as a result of a conflict still
waiting to be settled.
As an international law scholar whom I turned to in order to confirm
the absence of such a rule from the annals of international law said
with reference to the boycotters – “for them it is not international
law, it is ‘my’ law.”
Same with Beinart and others afflicted by the same selective moral
indignation – they make up facts and rules as they go along, which
they then invoke to prove their hatred for Israel right.
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