In tomorrow’s newpapers, you’ll be reading about a controversy that has erupted at Davos. ”Global Agenda,” the magazine of the World Economic Forum, contains an article calling for a boycott of Israel. In an email to participants at Davos, Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, expressed his ”great concern and pain” at the article, which he says is ”in total contradiction to my own, and the Forum’s, mission and values.” The article was the result, he said, of ”an unacceptable failure of the editorial process, specifically an insufficiently short period for review of content.”
I managed to find a copy of ”Global Agenda”–they suddenly were in rather short supply here after the discovery of the article in question. The piece, by Mazin Qumsiyeh, who is described as having served on the faculties of Duke and Yale and as a campaigner for Palestinian rights, is as nasty a piece of work as I’ve read in some time. It’s particularly nasty because it re-clothes many of the tropes of classic anti-Semitism (such as the idea that Jews control the media in the U.S.) in humanitarian garb.
I have the greatest respect for Dr. Schwab, and he’s right that this article is utterly antithetical to the spirit of Davos. But it’s a little hard to understand how this could be simply a failure of editorial process. Consider the headline of the piece: ”Boycott Israel.” You have to wonder how much longer it would have taken to review the content of the article to figure out what it was about. The unfortunate, and inevitable, conclusion is that Israel is so demonized in so many minds that this language didn’t come into question even in the house organ of a gathering that in the words of its founder is based on ”mutual respect and recognition, and not on confrontation.”