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The Absurdity of the Boycott

July 19, 2009 – 11:03 am5 Comments
QUIT = Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

QUIT = Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

By Anthony Frosh

By now you have probably read on Galus Australis and/or the Australian Jewish News that filmmaker Ken Loach is threatening a boycott of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), unless MIFF terminates sponsorship arrangements it currently has with the State of Israel.

Now, despite the AJN’s Adam Kamien describing this individual as a “Legendary British Filmmaker,” I must confess that I had never heard of this chap before reading about the boycott.  Perhaps Kamien just meant legendary relative to other British filmmakers … now that would make sense.  I can’t help but wonder if some British ‘talent’ agents are telling clients whose celebrity is waning that the best way to revive their profile is to publicly partake in boycott action against Israel.  Think Annie Lennox.

I could go into a lengthy essay on why there is a far better moral case for boycotting Loach’s own country of Britain than there is for boycotting Israel.  Just for starters, combat operations conducted on one’s own doorstep in response to eight years of constant rocket attacks, ceteris paribus, are more justifiable than combat operations conducted continents away from the home base in order to sure up energy security.  However, with so much absurdity in Loach’s position, and life being short, I’ll have to settle for one absolute gem.

A little research reveals that Loach is a signatory to Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism.  The irony in the mere existence of this organization is almost delicious.  If there is one place in the Middle East that respects gay rights, it is Israel.  Indeed, gay rights in Israel compare favourably to even the USA.  As Alan Dershowitz points out in The Case for Israel, the Israeli defence forces do not discriminate against gay people, while the US armed forces officially ban gays from their membership.

As Dershowitz further points out, such realities have not prevented signs being seen at anti-Israel demonstrations reading “Queers for Palestine,” and yet if anyone was to display such a sign at a rally in either Hamas controlled Gaza, or the Fatah controlled territories, they would suffer a significant risk of being killed.  In fact, the only country in the Middle East where one could hold up such a sign without incurring such risk is Israel.  It is no surprise that gay Palestinians frequently seek refuge in Israel.

To give you an impression of the typical activities Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism undertakes, they protested and disrupted the screening of Israeli film Yossi and Jagger (2002) at the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.  For those unfamiliar with this film, it was the Israeli equivalent of Brokeback Mountain (2005).

Thankfully, it seems that only a tiny proportion of the gay community is actually involved in anti-Israel activity.  The existence of groups like Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism says far less about gays than it does about the absurdity of anti-Israel boycotts.

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  • Peter says:

    Quite true. The anti-Israeli case is based on a mixture of ignorance, stupidity and, may I say it, a bit of anti-antisemitism. There is no logic involved in Gays opposing Israel and supporting the Palestinians.

  • jewinthefat says:

    – In yesterdays Jerusalem Post – European court: Israel boycotts are unlawful discrimination

    “On Thursday, the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one’s freedom of expression.”


  • Peter writes:

    There is no logic involved in Gays opposing Israel and supporting the Palestinians.

    Why so? Gay people come from all sides of the political spectrum. Just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they can’t be pro-Palestine. Not everyone sides with Israel.

    Anthony writes:

    It is no surprise that gay Palestinians frequently seek refuge in Israel.

    Out of curiousity, and please excuse any ignorance on my part as I’m not fully familiar with the exact situation, but how do gay Palestians actually get to and/or move to Israel to seek refuge? I thought there was a wall stopping Palestinians from freely getting into Israel.


  • frosh says:

    Hi Michael,

    I think the article adequately explains why people concerned about gay rights would support Israel over its belligerent neighbours.

    Perhaps Peter just assumed that people who identify as gay would be particularly concerned about gay rights, but your point is taken that this may not always be the case. Afterall, not all Jews are concerned about anti-Semitism etc.

    However, when a political gay organisation aggressively takes sides against Israel, well this is another matter, and perhaps this was what Peter was referring to.

    As for your second question, if you do a Google search , it will reveal several such cases.


    Also, I recommend watching the excellent Israeli film, HaBua (The Bubble) for a pop-cultural take on this issue.

  • I’ve seen HaBua twice. It was very disturbing.

    Interesting comment:

    Perhaps Peter just assumed that people who identify as gay would be particularly concerned about gay rights,

    I would like to take this one step further and hope that all humans would be concerned about human rights, irrespective of sexual orientation or religious belief. Some are less concerned than others.

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