Nobody cares what a movie star like Meg Ryan thinks about the Mideast, says Jacob Weisberg at Newsweek, but her decision to cancel an appearance at an Israeli film festival is disturbing, nonetheless. Ryan is a "conventional Hollywood Democrat" whose "sheeplike" following of the liberal mainstream makes her the perfect "barometer of celebrity politics." Stars like Ryan "once reflexively favored Israel," but since the Gaza flotilla incident in June, have begun "dabbling in the repellent idea of shunning the entire country" — an entirely "unacceptable way for outsiders to protest Israeli treatment of Palestinians." Here, an excerpt:
Support for the Israeli cultural boycott has been growing in surprising places lately. After the Gaza flotilla incident in June, rock bands including the Pixies canceled performances at a music festival in Tel Aviv. Elvis Costello announced in May that he was canceling two upcoming performances to protest the treatment of Palestinians. Unlike Ryan, Costello is a thoughtful person whose views are worthy of respect. So why, exactly, do I think he’s wrong, too?
[...] The [strongest] case against a cultural boycott of Israel is based on consistency, proportionality, and history. That supporters of this boycott seldom focus on China or Syria or Zimbabwe—or other genuinely illegitimate regimes that systematically violate human rights—underscores their bad faith.... What they’re saying is, "We consider your country so intrinsically reprehensible that we are going to treat all of your citizens as pariahs."