Picture: BLOOMBERG/CORINNA KERN
Picture: BLOOMBERG/CORINNA KERN

Little as I like having to repeat myself, by (predictably) evading the main thrust of my letter Terry Crawford-Browne (“Israel continues to be racist — and silent about it”, June 13) has left me with no choice.

What I wrote was that problems of racism exist in every country, and hence singling out Israel for special condemnation in this regard is simply illogical, as well as unjust. To this, Crawford-Browne dredges up ancient scandals concerning Yemenite and Ethiopian immigrants to Israel as if these were the defining elements of Israeli society, rather than occasional aberrations of the kind that can be found in even in the most progressive countries. 

To cite just a few examples, Australia once had a policy of removing Aboriginal children of mixed ethnicity from their Aboriginal parents, African-Americans in the US were once barred from donating blood, and in Brazil even in our own day, a de facto “hierarchy of skin colour” is evident in such glaring inequalities as the gross under-representation of blacks in government and the fact that white salaries are on average 46% higher.

No-one, Crawford-Browne included, describes these countries as “racist, apartheid states” that ought to be boycotted. What makes Israel so different? A good definition of bigotry, according to the eminent jurist Alan Dershowitz, is when a particular grouping (whether defined along racial, ethnic or other such lines) is held to be guilty of negative character traits that are in reality common to all humanity. Dershowitz was specifically referring to anti-Jewish prejudice.

However, that principle holds true wherever specific groups of people, and indeed individual countries, are irrationally held to be uniquely culpable for failings that can easily be shown to exist in practically every society. It is this kind of crass anti-Israel bigotry that has consistently underpinned Terry Crawford-Browne’s writing on the subject. At the end of the day, he appears to be little more than an intellectual fraud and a moral charlatan, for all his grandstanding about human rights and anti-racist values.

David Saks
SA Jewish Board of Deputies, associate director