I posted a comment to Jonathan's post below that I thought I'd promote to an actual post (with some slight changes). It's about the recurring question whether there's anything anti-Semitic about singling out Israel for criticism when, for anything bad that Israel arguably does, a ton of other countries (China, Sudan, etc.) do it worse.
I claim that singling out Israel in this way not necessarily anti-Semitic. In fact, there are some extremely pro-Jewish (perhaps even too pro-Jewish) reasons for doing so. (Note that, in what follows, I'm making no claim about how many pro-Jewish types there are in the anti-Israel crowd relative to the anti-Semitic types. I'm only arguing that this position is coherent, by way of rebutting the claim that anti-Israel policies are necessarily anti-Semitic.)
First, let's take as given that someone opposes Israel for some reason — for instance because of its policies with respect to the Palestinians, or because of certain preferential policies for Jews (or for certain Jews), or because of its tactics in the war against Lebanon, or what have you. (I'm not interested, for the purposes of this post, in arguing the merits of that position.) And I'll stipulate that this reason applies in spades against many other countries (China, Sudan, whatever).
Note, though, that there are several ways of setting one's priorities. One way is to concentrate one's efforts on the worst cases; on that view, singling out a relatively mild offender would be wrong. But another way — perhaps more in line with economists' thinking — is to concentrate on the most fixable cases. For example, on this blog, we tend to criticize the American government more than other countries — though surely Sudan does worse things than the Libby commutation??? One reason might be that we have no special knowledge of Sudan; another reason might be that we have no special interest in Sudan; and another reason, which is the one I want to focus on, might be that we think we can make a greater difference in America.
On this view, it's actually correct to single out America or Israel for criticism rather than other countries. For instance, one might think that only Israelis are sane, basically rights-respecting, and receptive to basic Western values — so that one can appeal to Israelis' basic principles in arguing that they're acting wrongly. Or one could believe that only Israel — and not Sudan or China — has a healthy enough democratic culture that this sort of treatment will change its policies. In other words, far from being an anti-Semitic policy, the boycott could be an act of deep respect for Israel, essentially saying: "Only you guys aren't savages; we think you might actually listen."
Relatedly, one might hold Israel to a higher standard because they're basically "like us" and "should know better." Unlike the previous rationale, this one may well be dishonorable, because it treats non-Israelis (Sudanese and Chinese) as not being capable of understanding the right thing to do. But if it's dishonorable, again it's dishonorable by virtue of considering Israelis superior. So it's hardly anti-Semitism.
So there are anti-Semitic reasons one might support a boycott. But there are various pro-Semitic reasons, some honorable and some not, along the lines of "you guys aren't savages; we think you guys might listen; and you guys should know better."
UPDATE: Good times in the comments, in which, among other things, I defend looking at people's motives, and also argue that even comparisons of Israel to Nazis, while severely lacking in perspective, aren't necessarily anti-Semitic.
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