(Ed.'s note. Generally speaking, I author all the blog posts. There have been times when I have posted exchanges I have had with others - the Public Editor of the New York Times, a UCLA professor, a Holocaust scholar, and a friend. This post was written entirely by my son, as a letter to the Mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland. A motion was passed by the governing council of Reykjavik to boycott all products coming out of Israel. This follows on the heels of the proposal by the European Union to label all products coming out of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), because the Europeans, like Obama, believe that land belongs to the "Palestinians." There was also a push in the U.K. to have Netanyahu arrested for war crimes during his recent visit there. Following condemnation by Jewish Groups and others, the motion was amended to limit the boycott to products coming from the West Bank. The Mayor of Reykjavik expressed shock over the reaction to the proposed total boycott of all things Israeli. I wonder if this city council is also willing to boycott the large number of scientific and life-saving medical inventions developed by Israelis. And what's next for the anti-Semites? Bar all Jews? Or make them wear a yellow badge/Jewish star, as required by the Nazis? Where will it end? Anyway, for a related post, see "Letter to a College Student," posted 3/25/11.)
"My friends and I are traveling to Iceland one week from today. We are all Jews. We have been talking about this trip for over a year and words just can't do justice to describe how excited we are. Unfortunately, our upcoming trip will be marred by the misguided and short-sighted decision by your city to boycott all Israeli goods.
I am truly disappointed in your city's decision to boycott all Israeli products. One wonders why Reykjavik has yet to boycott China for occupying Tibet, India and Pakistan for occupying Kashmir, Turkey for occupying Cyprus, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey for not allowing the establishment of a Kurdish state, and on and on and on. It is therefore bewildering why the great city of Reykjavik has chosen to single out the one Jewish country in the world.
Surely before coming to this decision the members of the council educated themselves on the conflict. They must have learned that Israel was created by a UN decision that also granted the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine territory for a state of their own. They also undoubtedly were informed that while the Jews happily accepted this proposal, the Arabs rejected it and immediately started a war to fight, in the words of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time, "until the Zionists were annihilated." This war ended with the 1949 Armistice lines, also known as the '67 lines. These lines encompassed an area far smaller than what the Arabs were originally offered by the UN. However, like your city council, they too were driven by pure hatred of the Jews, and like you surely will too, they lost.
I am sure that the esteemed council members also learned that Israel is a vibrant democracy whose very declaration of independence extended equal rights to all of its citizens, regardless of race, religion, or gender. Are they aware that an Arab citizen currently sits on Israel's supreme court, and that the Arab population of Israel is represented by multiple parties in Israel's parliament? This despite the fact that these parties constantly work to undermine the security if Israel. How many Arab and Muslim-majority countries offer such protections to their minorities? Egypt, which incessantly harasses its Coptic Christian minority? Iran, which is infamous in its persecution of Kurds, Yazidis, Baha'i (whose beautiful headquarters is in the Israeli city of Haifa, I might add, due to their persecution in their native Iran), and homosexuals, just to name a few. Saudi Arabia, where women must be escorted in public by a male relative and are forbidden from driving? Or perhaps Jordan, whose citizenry is over 70% Palestinian yet is run by the small Hashemite clan? If the council members’ decision was truly driven by a concern for the oppressed and downtrodden, and not by blatant anti-Semitism, your city would have boycotted all of these countries long ago.
I am certain that as part of their history lesson the city council members also learned that there never has been an independent political entity in what was the Palestinian Mandate except for ancient Israel and the modern State of Israel. For 2,000 years the region was simply a neglected backwater of various empires, except for a short period when your European brothers came over and killed as many native Jews as possible.
One wonders why the creation of an Arab entity in the heart of the Jewish homeland is more important to Reykjavik than, for example, the creation of a state for the 20 million Kurds that are repressed by their host nations. One wonders why the Icelandic people bear such ill-will toward the Jews. When have the Jews ever caused any harm to the people or country of Iceland? In fact, when has the average Icelander ever even encountered a Jew? Surely, despite age-old claims that the Jews control financial institutions, you don't blame them for your country's economic crisis in 2008, do you?
Iceland is a small country of 100,250 square km surrounded by water, with no natural enemies. Israel is an even smaller country of only 20,330 square km surrounded by hundreds of millions of people who openly and proudly proclaim that they will never rest until Israel and all of its Jewish inhabitants are destroyed. It faces incessant rocket attacks from its southern border with the Gaza Strip and from its northern border with Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. With the civil-war raging in Syria (which, mind you, has killed 300,000 people and displaced over 12 million people in 4 years, compared to about 100,000 deaths from 1945 until now in the Arab-Israeli conflict), and potential instability in neighboring Jordan due to the ISIS threat, does it really make sense for Israel to make itself even more vulnerable than it already is by allowing a human-rights abusing, terrorist-supporting entity to spring up right in its own backyard?
Despite your best efforts to malign this oft-persecuted people, my friends and I will still travel to Iceland next week. We debated returning the favor by boycotting Reykjavik, but we decided that we will not let a few hateful members of the city council ruin what will undoubtedly be a great experience for the four of us. We refuse to blame an entire nation for what we feel is a misguided and morally bankrupt decision on the part of several of its leaders. Instead, we will enjoy all that Reykjavik and Iceland have to offer, while remaining strong in our belief that Israel is unworthy of the constant and vicious opprobrium that it receives not only from Iceland, but from all across Europe. Though I will still come to your city and country, I will be very careful not to discuss my personal background while I am there. You have made it very clear that Reykjavik is an unwelcoming city not just towards Israelis, but towards all Jews, regardless of their country of origin. It is a shame, and also a bit ironic, that in claiming to support human rights and dignity, the city of Reykjavik is sparing no effort to take away the dignity of the Jewish people. Fortunately, the Jews are a strong people, and we will not be cowed by false morality from the anti-Semitic bastion that is Europe. Had your council members paid a bit more attention to their history lessons, they would have already known this too."