Benjamin Netanyahu's accusation that the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel is "anti-Semitism" illustrates that he has no intellectual or rational defence of his country's policies (Netanyahu compares Israel boycott movement to old-style anti-Semitism, 18 February). He is wrong to highlight that "only the Jewish state" is the target of the campaign, because it is not the self-proclaimed "Jewishness" of Israel that is the problem, it is the Zionist ideology that underpins the state with which people have issues. Zionism depends on anti-Semitism to justify its existence: it came into being on the back of the pogroms in Russia and Europe; was given a huge boost (at a time when the majority of Jews rejected it) by the rise of the Nazis and the obscenity of the Holocaust; and has sought to make Jews feel insecure in their home countries ever since it was created in order to encourage them to migrate to the "land without a people for a people without a land". Israel's real problem is that Palestine was never such a land. If only Netanyahu and his Western backers would acknowledge that, accept responsibility for the very real wrong done to the people of Palestine, end the occupation and "de-Zionise" Israel (as Israeli Professor Ilan Pappe has suggested), there would be no need for a boycott. Resorting to the "anti-Semitism" charge is to bury one's head in the sand and try to stifle genuine debate.
Middle East Monitor