This is a cross post by David Hirsh from Engage
I was invited to debate the question “Is Israel an Apartheid State” by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at a university in England as part of “Israel Apartheid Week”. The email mentioned that I had previously represented a pro-Israel state position. I replied as follows:
You have been mis-informed. I did not present “pro-Israel” views in Birmingham. I presented an anti-nationalist and pro-peace position. I am an anti-racist, and therefore am reluctant to participate in your Don’t buy from the Jews week. I am saddened to be invited to an event of this kind on a university campus. I wish you all the best in building solidarity with those Palestinians who are fighting against occupation and for a democratic and free Palestine. But efforts to educate students in Leicester to believe that Israelis, uniquely, are racists who deserve to be excluded from the global community of arts, sports, academia and trade, are entirely counter-productive to that goal.
The response was that there had been a misunderstanding, that the PSC is not a racist group, that it aims to foster dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and that it is for peace in the region. I replied as follows:
No, this is not a misunderstanding. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s primary focus is not constructive solidarity with democratic Palestinians, it is to make propaganda in Britain for an exclusion of Israelis from the global community. There is nothing new about the drive to exclude Jews from the community. The point of characterising Israel as “apartheid” is to make a thought-free path to the boycott conclusion; it isn’t an open effort to do comparative analysis or illuminative analogy. Israel is the only state which you say is “apartheid” and it is the only state which you want to boycott; Israelis are the only people who you want collectively to punish for the actions of their state. PSC does not aim to open a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians but to exclude Israelis from having their voices heard by boycotting them. PSC supports antisemitic organisations like Hamas, which seek to destroy Israel and to kill Israelis. PSC is for war against Israel, not for peace between Israel and Palestine. Perhaps if there is a misunderstanding here it is that you misunderstand the aims and the culture of the PSC, the organisation to which you are affiliated.
I received no further response.