The recent blatantly anti-Semitic remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar followed by an inept and almost meaningless rebuke by House Democrats has generated much discussion nationwide as well as in The Sun. On one day alone there appeared on your editorial page two letters defending Representative Omar and an op-ed discussing the anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) laws being enacted in a number of states including Maryland (“Anti-BDS law prevents discrimination,” March 11).
It was unfortunate that the House was unable to pass a clean rebuke of the congresswoman from Minnesota and chose instead to pass a broad reprimand covering any and all groups facing discrimination wherever they are located, making it meaningless and letting Ms. Omar off the hook. The commentary discussing anti-BDS legislation demonstrated that the courts have found that such legislation is not in violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment and that the BDS movement has been initiated and coordinated worldwide by Arab terrorist organizations including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
But I would even take the argument one step further. In my view, the BDS movement is anti-Semitic in that it has focused entirely and exclusively on the civil rights abuses of Israel. Granted, Israel has been guilty of human rights abuses of Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank. Some of these abuses have been in response to the unrelenting suicide bombings and terrorist acts of Arabs against Israeli civilians as well as the continuing rocket attacks into Israel. On the other hand, what about the much greater and more bloody abuses in any number of other countries? The highly-respected human rights watchdog organization, Maplecroft, has evaluated 197 countries on various human rights violations and had classified 20 countries as having an extreme human rights risk in 2008. That number has since risen to 34. Of the countries with a high risk of violations, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Mali and Guinea-Bissau have seen the worst deterioration of their human rights situation, according to the organization.
Other countries with abysmal records are Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, China, North Korea and Myanmar. Israel is not listed among those countries with a high risk of violations. So the question is, if at least 30 to 40 countries worldwide have worse human rights violations than Israel, why are so many organizations, including many college student bodies, Protestant religious denominations and other well-meaning and otherwise respectable groups singling out only Israel for sanctions and boycotts? The only answer I can think of is that this is another example of straightforward, age old and ugly anti-Semitism.
Jack Kinstlinger, Towson
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