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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Extend the boycotts

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Britain,  be consistent and extend the boycotts
Maurice Ostroff
 
Charles  Boycott would feel at home in the current "Boycott Israel" season.
 
British academics, journalists and trade unionists demanding boycotts of Israeli universities and products, must feel compelled by their humanitarian motivation to follow through appropriately. With their evident knowledge of world affairs, they cannot ignore other places, desperately needing and more deserving their support.
 
Certainly they cannot be unaware of conditions on their doorstep, in fellow EU country, Spain, where, by the standards applied to Palestinians, the Basques appear to be even more worthy than the Palestinians of leftist support.
 
In a BBC Hardtalk interview on June 21, Pernando Barrena, spokesman for Batasuna, ETA's political wing, described the Basque struggle against the Spanish government.
 
According to the Guardian (March 11, 2004), ETA was established in 1959 to oppose banning of the Basque language, suppression of its culture and imprisonment and torture of its intellectuals for their political and cultural beliefs. Hundreds have since been killed and many more wounded in the long and violent struggle.
 
In its struggle for Basque independence, ETA, like the Palestinians, uses terror and is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and the EU. CNN recently reported that hundreds of ETA operatives languish in Spanish and French jails.
 
The Basques, a distinct Christian group, have lived in the region bordering Spain and France since the Stone Age. Mr Barrena explained on Hardtalk, that by banning his Batasuna party, the Spanish government denies 20% of the Basque population their democratic rights to vote and influence decisions about their own fate. He asserted that whereas ETA declared a cease-fire in March, the Spanish government has continued to use violence.
 
Since no Spanish professors have expressed solidarity with ETA, consistency requires that British academics boycott Spanish universities. This case is stronger than that against Israeli academics, since many Israeli academics come out strongly against certain Israeli government policies affecting Palestinians.
 
Suppression of newspaper freedom is surely a pressing reason for a boycott by the National Union of Journalists, is it not? Mr. Barrena quoted the example of a jailed ETA member recently sentenced to an additional 13 years imprisonment for writing two newspaper articles. By comparison, Israel with its free press, which frequently and stridently criticizes the Israel government, should be the object of congratulation, not of boycott by the British journalists' union.
 
China would also seem to deserve boycotting by NUJ standards. Freedom House reports increasing restrictions on China's media and detention of human rights activists.
 
Those who call for boycotting Israel because of the "occupation" and its security barrier surely need to apply equal attention to Spain's occupation of the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves in Morocco, and the construction of yet a third fence to separate these Spanish enclaves from Morocco.
 
Lest I be misunderstood, I don't advocate support for the ETA terrorists nor a boycott of any country. I merely draw the logical conclusion that those who focus narrowly on Israel only, while ignoring indisputable abuses in Darfur, China, Spain and elsewhere, are guilty of insincerity or ignorance of world events. Perhaps both.
 
For concerned citizens, it is scary to realize how journalists, who exert a powerful influence on our lives, impose their prejudices by failing to portray events in their wider context as exemplified by the recent boycott decision of their union.
 
Similarly, it is scary to realize how students are exposed to teachers who dismally fail the test of intellectual honesty, a test that requires all the available facts to be examined, including those that contradict preconceived opinions. 
 
 
 
 

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