Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Department of wooley thinking

Britain's largest union of journalists has voted in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods, because of what it calls Israel's "military adventures," likening the effort to the boycott of South African products in the struggle against apartheid.

Given the British journalists killed by Arab fighters in Iraq, and the fact that the BBC's Alan Johnston was kidnapped--and according to some reports murdered--by Palestinians in Gaza--the move might be seen as curious. Or, perhaps, as giving in to threats of violence.

But what the journalists did was more than strange, illogical or weak: It was a violation of their professional principles. The job of the reporter is to observe and report. The journalist who becomes part of the story forfeits his claim to our attention. But that is exactly what these British scribes have done. By injecting themselves into the maelstrom of Middle East politics, they have disqualified themselves from the only role that they could legitimately claim.

(For British foolishness, this move ranks with the resolution of the Oxford Union in 1935 or so, that declared its members would not die for King and country. A few years later, of course, many of them were doing exactly that.)

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