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Anti-Zionism at Davos

Categories: Daily Briefing

Klaus Schwab, executive director of the World Economic Forum, issued an apology this afternoon after a bitter controversy broke out over an article calling for the boycott of Israel that was published in the Forum's Global Agenda magazine, distributed widely to the 2,500 attendees of this year's conference.

The article which was also distributed at the Zurich airport and various hotels, was written by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a geneticist. The article equates Zionism and racism.

In a release this afternoon Schwab stated, "With great concern and pain, I just learned that the Global Agenda, a publication distributed to our members at the Annual Meeting 2006, contains an article calling for a boycott of Israel. This article is totally in contradition to my own and the Forum's, mission and values."

He said that the article appeared because of an "unacceptable failure in the editorial process, specifically an insufficiently short period for review of content - for which there is no excuse."

One attendee said the Forum was considering tearing the article out of the remaining copies of the Global Agenda magazine.

Posted by on January 26, 2006 02:59 PM (Paris)

Reader Comments

Yeah, sure it was an oversight. You think people are that stupid to believe this spin?

Warren Feld | January 26, 2006 03:26 PM

Another example of how the world does not learn from its mistakes. They think a public appology cuts it? No way!
Both the editor and the article author should be fired.

"Zionism"... sheesh... Most of the Israeli population doesn't even know what that means.

We are patriots! Why is being an Israeli patriot BAD and being an American, French or German patriot GOOD?
Americans won their country through war, but that was a couple of centuries back so that's fine, right? Australia grew at the expenss of ancient native tribes, but there's nothing wrong with that - of course!

I, personally, do not see why the world looks at Isarel and blames it for any harm done to Palestinians or any other Arab country. They are fugitives of Arab countries after all.

E-dan | January 26, 2006 03:31 PM

It probably demonstrates why people pay little attention as to what happens in Davos. When the oganizers cannot gather up enough resources to take care of their own communications, it's a sign that they probably consider themselves as relevant as the New York Boat Show.

Jack | January 26, 2006 03:34 PM

It is unexcusable that Mr. Klaus did not review his article before publishing it.

Rosalinda Taymor | January 26, 2006 03:37 PM

it would be nice if we were able to read the article and make and form our own opinion.

berend rosenboom | January 26, 2006 04:36 PM

Europe is mellowing under Zionist pressure and slowly becoming just as blind and soaked in Zionism as the U.S.

Let's hope Europeans won't dispatch troops to die in Iran so that Israel could have its will fulfilled.

Steve Riedle | January 26, 2006 04:42 PM

Eventually, the moonbats infiltrate every global organization.

Max | January 26, 2006 05:11 PM

This is no different from Kofi Annan not being aware that the full-size map at the U.N. excluded Israel.

Bernard/N.Y. | January 26, 2006 05:15 PM

I have not read the article. I am not at Davos and I have little or no influence over anything but my own life. I do wish the people who react with such horror to this story would understand that the vast majority of people are not remotely anti-semitic. They are against the unjust use of power by a state. They admire Israel for its very existence, for its achievements and for its courage.

What they do not admire is the bullying of the Palestinian populace who have a strong argument to sharing living space and power with the Jewish immigrants.
Israel has to be tough to stay alive, but public opinion is tipping over to the Palestinian cause because of the 'over the top methods' employed by Israel and particularly its vociferous settlers.

It really is just a question of balance and if Israel treated the ordinary Palestinians (NOT the terrorists) in a more balanced way articles like the one referred to might never appear.

Anthony Fitzgerald, Hungerford UK (Marketing & Media Consultant)

Anthony Fitzgerald | January 26, 2006 06:03 PM

If this forum believes in freedom of speech then it shouldn't be removed. It is merely an opinion.

Bernando | January 26, 2006 06:06 PM

A retraction after the fact is clearly a transparent insult. The real issue is how quickly can Schwab be fired.

Neil | January 26, 2006 06:28 PM

You must be kidding! firing the author of the article for his political opnion? You advocate against the very thing you are trying to promote: tolerance! However, it is quite possible that the article was improper for publication in which case the editor and whoever else is in charge should be fired, but the author himself, no!

Annie / Washington DC | January 26, 2006 07:11 PM

When Israel is control of all the the land they want, will they treat non-Jews the same as they treat Jews? If they do, they are not racist. If they don't, they are racist. Every race and religion should be treated the same on this planet. No special favors for Jews or any other peoples should be granted by Israel or any other country.

James Johnathon | January 26, 2006 07:42 PM

In response to Berend Rosenboom. The article is available in PDF form here:

Jeff Duricko | January 26, 2006 08:06 PM

I would urge all to read the article before commenting and committing to positions. That article and much more are at my website http://qumsiyeh.org

Mazin | January 26, 2006 10:30 PM

Certainly, you can argue about the political correctness of the article. However, I agree that Qumsiyeh is clearly presenting an opinion and hence, the article should be accepted as is. I won't go into whether I believe he has a valid point or not.

However, I'd like to comment on "E-dan's" comparison of Israel and the U.S. founding history.

I think, if you go out and talk to some Native Americans, you'll get similar outcries to what you are getting now (for Israel). Furthermore, you should be careful not to play down ethnocentrism as patriotic. The recent events in France have shown us what (overly) "patriotic" (discriminating) behavior can lead to in a STABLE country with a rather STABLE environment.

Habib | January 27, 2006 01:54 AM

There are a great number of Jewish people around the world who strongly oppose Zionism. The ruling minority in Israel base their acts on the belief that "they are elected by God and have the exclusive right to rule the world and thus every act is justified." This line of thought, makes the Zionist on the racist camp because they fundamentally believe Jews are suprior in every aspect to all other humans.

The Muslim Arabs treat the non-muslims the same
way although not as violent as Israelis do to them.
Long time ago, I had an academic advisor who hated foreigners. I complained that he is a racist to which he replied "racism does not belong to a specific race". It took me a long time to understand what he meant.

Amir Parssian | January 27, 2006 04:02 AM

I see the big ruckus about my article. What happened to free speech. The magazine in question published this article by me calling for a non-violent method to be used UNTIL Israel complies with human rights and International law. In the same issue, the magazine published articles promoting war (e.g. by Michael Ledeen). I ask the readers to first read the article (it is posted at my website qumsiyeh.org) before they make a judgement. Bishop Desmond Tutu said the same thing. Here is also what the Israeli Artists Declaration of 2002 had to say about this:

"If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form" (artists' Declaration 2002).


Mazin | January 27, 2006 05:33 AM

During the US invasion of Iraq, there were calls by some rather hawkish Americans to boycott France (or at least rename our fried side dishes) for their refusal to support us. Not surprisingly, some citizens of other countries against the invasion suggested a boycott of US goods (difficult, since nothing actually made in the US anymore, except rhetoric).

Calls for boycotts are not just targeted at dictatorial regimes like China, Cuba, or Zimbabwe. Think of the Soviets ducking out of the 1984 Olympics, or the US doing the same in 1980. Or animal-rights groups boycotting department stores that carry fur coats, or snippy Christians threatening to boycott Wal-mart because their heathen decorations say "Season's Greetings."

Suggesting a boycott for one reason or another is a pretty widely used tool. It doesn't need to be taken that seriously, or prompt interpolations about the author's deeper motives. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Israel, a democratic and properous state under seige which resorts to draconian methods. For example, one could call their policies regarding ethnically Arab Israelis to be a mild form of apartheid, without being an anti-Zionist who wants the Jews pushed into the sea.

If the article had suggested an oil boycott against Venezuela for electing a socialist, would that be an example of anti-Latinism? No, just an opinion that Chavez, while legitimately elected, is a loon who's not a true capitalist like us. Big deal.

Seems anytime you say the world "Israel" you're automatically an extremist of one sort. It's time to reclaim the middle ground.

Bangkok, Thailand, copywriter

Wesley H | January 27, 2006 05:42 AM

Running away from the truth is no solution to the worlds problems. When any person is quoted speaking against the Zionists, theres a big outcry. Dont people have the freedom to express their views anymore. Every community, be it ethnic, religious or race, faces it share of bashing in the independant media. Yet the reactions to negative comments on Israel are always treated as the gravest sin on earth. For how long will the Israelis be treated as victims and not oppressors. It is very much true that they faced persecution from the Nazis. But that can be no reason that the Arabs pay for that. Truly, the ways of the world are strange.

Crool | January 27, 2006 06:24 AM

One thing is sure, Mazin Qumisyeh the writer of that article is a racist. People say that the solution to the worldwide Isalmic terror problem is through education. When you read such a racist inflammatory and Jews-hating article by such an educated Islamic person it makes you wonder if anything can help or the world is doomed to fall into a new era of dark ages caused by Islam.

Ronen Mizrahi | January 27, 2006 09:35 AM

When it come to Israel, it's always another thing: You can insult Islam, Christianism, Bouddism...but never doubt of democratic Israel. You can criticise King Hussein, President Mubarak without being classified as anti-muslim but criticising Sharon-the-butchr means you are anti-semitic. Criticising the Baath pary or Hamas is OK but criticising the Zionism (whic is a pure racism)amount to anti-semitism. People are explaining Hamas win as a result of the Fath corruption. They don't want to see that the root of problem is the occupation by Israeli, backed by US of Palestinian land. Hamas won because it appears the only one who fight the occupation. Don't look for another explanation to this phenomenen. Again, when it came to Israel, Europeans implement an auto-censure, fearing to be accused of anti-semitism. Israel has to know if it want or not to leave among around two billions muslims. If it wants it has to change its ways of dealing with people. The brutal force and murdering of thousands of palestinians, using Americans F16, Appachees...etc will never broke the will of people to leave in freedom.

Abdellahi | January 27, 2006 09:55 AM

I looked at his website. It is full of words designed to enflame passion. Please look for facts, not adjectives.

Rob | January 27, 2006 10:09 AM

Zionism is the belief that there should be a homeland for the Jews, and it should be located in Israel, where they originally settled and had been trying to return for millenia.

The world granted them this state following the Holocaust, and they have fought to keep it since. How is that racism?

Adam Grossman | January 27, 2006 01:37 PM

Mazin's article is at best a "poor history", but given his academic credentials of having served at the faculties of significant universities, I would charge that it is not through "ignorance" but "willful selectivity" that he presents his "facts".

To start with, in 1948 the world unanimously backed previous calls for the formation of a home for Jewish people. The Arab world planned an immediate attack and "urged" all arab inahbitants in the land to evacuate temporarily, promisong them that they could return and share in the spoils a short time later. Elsewhere close to 800,000 jewish people had to hastily leave behind their homes and possessions across north africa and the middle east. Where are the modern-day calls for THEIR right of return and ability to live in safety. The truth is that Mazin ignores that islamic states are themselves a homogeneous make-up led by a one-religion, intolerant political system. Where are the Christian churches, synagogues, or other house of worship in Saudi Arabia or Iran ? Yet I can count hundreds of mosques in Europe, America and Australia. What of the other religious groups whose lives were made intolerable by persecution in islamic states; I have met plenty of B'hai who had to flee Iran under the ruthless dictatorships of the ayatollahs. Did other Arab states dare to call for a boycott of such states on the grounds of "apartheid" ?

The truth is that Mazin knows that if you go the full distance of "ethnic cleansing", there is no need for "apartheid". He should ask why 8,000 jews could not remain in Gaza after the disengagement, even though they fought to remain? Could the newly created islamic state not absorb a relatively small number of jews into a state "free of apartheid" ? Again the truth is that not even their graves were safe from desecration !!

Harold | January 27, 2006 01:49 PM

What's the fuss? Why shouldn't Mazin Qumisyeh be able to advocate this form of non-violent protest against the Israel occupation if that is his view? And why would Klaus Schwab apologize for printing it in his magazine? He never heard of freedom of speech? He doesn't see his role as providing a venue for differing views and for debate? How pathetic is that? I scarcely equate publishing the article with agreeing with it.

The willingness to suppress free speech and debate, so visible in most of the comments posted here, is far more serious than any call to isolate israel. I condemn Klaus Schwab -- not for publishing the article but for failing to defend Mazin Qumisyeh's right to express that view and the magazine's obligation to publish it. Censors have no business running magazines.

This nasty incident speaks volumes about the real mindset of the elites gathered at the World Economic Forum

Mike | January 27, 2006 08:28 PM

In response to Adam I would say that the part that could be interpreted as racist is the "for the Jews" statement. Many argue that no state should be "for" any race, ethnicity, or religion. This is a fundamental tenet of the US constitution. However imperfectly this is realized in the US, it is certainly something we strive for. I believe many other constitutions contain clauses along these lines and that, on principle, all constitutions should.

Doug | January 28, 2006 06:09 AM

FOR THOSE WISHING TO READ THE ARTICLE HERE IS A LINK: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/boycottisrael/

Gogol | January 28, 2006 04:55 PM

THREE CHEERS! for Mazin Qumisyeh and his courage to speak out.

Jan Boveri | January 28, 2006 04:55 PM

Mr. Qumsiyeh is allowed to say what he thinks. There are enough other people who like to reduce a complex problem into slogans. His opening picture reflects well on this tendency: A picture speaks more than a thousand words - it can lie as well; his text wouldn't be accepted in a science class.
The reason for the apology seeems to be that the organizers in Davos understand that slogans create anger, not dialog.

Max | January 29, 2006 01:57 AM

The rabid response to Mazin Qumsiyeh's article signals to me that he hit a sensitive spot of Israeli apologists. I haven't read much in those responses that in fact takes up Qumsiyeh's charges against the present Israeli state. Thanks, Mr. qumsiyeh

Morton K. Brussel | January 29, 2006 03:27 AM

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