Blogs > Gil Troy > 2016 In Context: Why Not Judge Israel the Way We Judge the United States?

Nov 6, 2016 9:10 am


2016 In Context: Why Not Judge Israel the Way We Judge the United States?

tags: Israel, election 2016, BDS



Gil Troy is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, just published by Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin's Press. His next book will update Arthur Hertzberg's The Zionist Idea. He is Professor of History at McGill University. Follow on Twitter @GilTroy

Click HERE for more installments of 2016 In Context:  Gil Troy's commentary on the closing days of the election.

Three weeks from today, Americans finally will have a chance to vote for president of the United States -- hundreds of other offices on ballots across the country. As a presidential historian who has written histories of presidential campaigning, of various presidents, of First Ladies, including Hillary Clinton when she was in that symbolic role, and, most recently, of the Clintons and the 1990s in The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, every day until Election Day I will post an article putting this election in historical context, trying to explain this wild and wacky race using history as our guide. So here it goes, with hashtag #2016incontext 

Dear Canadians,

Clearly, the U.S. presidential campaign has revealed every American’s truly ugly face.

• America is racist: look at those cop killings, listen to Black Lives Matter, and see the statistics showing how disproportionately African-Americans end up imprisoned, on welfare and failing school.

• America is sexist: it has a major party nominee who boasts about pawing women, who speaks about women as if they are mere sex objects.

• America is anti-immigrant: consider those yahoos shouting down Muslims and Mexicans, blaming outsiders because they can’t find jobs, talking about building a big wall in the South, and billing Mexico for it.

• America is hostile to people with special needs: have you seen that leading politician mocking a reporter’s palsy?

• America is corrupt: of its two major nominees, one dodged taxes for years and one broke the law about handling government secrets via email, but the FBI director found her crimes not-prosecutable – not the standards of behaviour you want in a leader.

• America is undemocratic: try explaining the electoral college to a fellow Canadian, or having it explained to you if you don’t understand it. How many Americans even realize that every four years, they don’t cast ballots for one of the nominees for president, but for electors pledged to support that nominee?

• America is falling apart: look at that years-long electoral circus, the endless campaigning, the billions in campaign contributions, the fury between competing groups, the vicious partisan competition, and the many problems highlighted economically, politically, culturally and diplomatically – with few realistic solutions in sight.

Given what a disaster and disappointment it has become, shouldn’t we all agree:

• To boycott all American goods, all American academics, anything to do with America, immediately – and to agitate on every Canadian university to boycott America, making sure that all Americans on our campuses feel uncomfortable and rejected because of their evil country;

• To endorse as many UN resolutions as possible criticizing America, punishing Americans and isolating America. Let’s have a General Assembly resolution declaring “Americanism is Racism!” Let’s have a UNESCO resolution declaring the American Revolution never happened. Let’s have one Security Council resolution demanding Manhattan’s return to the natives, who clearly didn’t intend to sell it for $24 to settlers centuries ago, and piles of resolutions demanding that America stop building in its settlements, places named after natives – Detroit, Chicago, Massachusetts, Alabama – proving the indigenous suffering imposed by this racist, colonialist entity whose name we shouldn’t even mention;

• That America shouldn’t exist and should never have been established, given that it was built on land stolen from the natives (who were even mocked in the World Series by that Cleveland Indians team)?

Hmmm. Of course, the United States has its problems and its flaws. But every intelligent person reading these words also realizes that the “racist” country elected a black president, that “sexist” America is also Hillary Clinton’s America, that immigrants built this “anti-immigrant” country, that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, that America is far less corrupt than most countries, that no large democracy is as pure as a town meeting with its straight-up votes, and that America the dysfunctional may have been making headlines recently, but America the functional remains an extraordinarily safe, happy and productive place.

Moreover, boycotting America would hurt Canada, such anti-American resolutions wouldn’t pass in the UN, and Canada might be next on the docket if we start opening up the question of natives.

In short, we judge America wisely, maturely, in proportion and in context, understanding that countries are complex, that not everything is so black and white, that we shouldn’t be so harsh and judgmental, and that, we, too, have our flaws.

So I’m confused. If we can judge America and ourselves so fairly, why not Israel?

Read original article on the Canadian Jewish News




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