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Invercargill Turks shunning Israelis

  • January 16th, 2009


 The Israeli ambassador should butt out. I object to his attempt to circumscribe the freedom of Turkish New Zealanders,. The Israeli New Zealanders were right to draw attention to the issue, but they do not need the law or the government to intervene simply because they have been offended.

Though I do not share the Invercargill Turks’ views on Israel in any degree, I defend them. I defend their right to express their views by shunning citizens of a state they consider to be evil. 

I would not shun an ANC South African despite their government’s support of Mugabe. I would not shun a Sudanese despite Darfur, without evidence of complicity or support for their odious government’s behaviour. I do not shun Moslems despite their religion’s abhorrent attitude to women. To me it is discourteous to shun people. I have not walked in their shoes. I do not know their personal views of the beliefs or conduct that offends me.

If a government agency acted as the Turks did it would be utterly wrong. The state weilds the coercive power of us all. It must be tolerant in a free society. Without proof of involvement in or support of unlawful acts the State certainly should not discriminate against New Zealand citizens simply because they are of a group in which some members have unpopular opinions.

But the vigour of our values (in the long term our freedoms) may depend on the willingness of individuals to be intolerant so long as they do not coerce their fellow citizens. So  I defend the right of any private citizen to shun whoever they want on their own property.

That right to shun can not depend on first establishing exactly what an individual thinks. Most effective social sanctions are class sanctions. They depend on stereotyping. Without stereotyping much essential human action would be paralysed.

I may be hesitant to inflict class punishment for the behaviour of only some of the members of a class. Perhaps at an individual level I might show disgust if I had reason to think they endorsed the detested actions or opinions. But not all of us must be made so squeamish by law.

There are many individual ways to express moral repugnance. Individuals can be obliged to take sides, to say where they stand, and if necessary to wear the costs of unpopular positions. The Springbok tour protesters who told individual rugby fans what they thought of them, who shunned them, were exercising freedom. Freedom is not freedom if we can not do that. Freedom relies on social sanctions as incentives for conduct most of us approve, and as incentives to avoid conduct most of us disapprove. Social sanctions only work if there is a cost to expressing, or supporting, or not denouncing abhorred positions.

Group punishment irrespective of the target’s personal responsibility is exactly what our government is doing to put pressure on the Fijian government. It is the mechanism in some strikes. I defend the right of union members to refuse to unload freight from a state whose aggression they detest, to put pressure on that state’s citizens in turn to put pressure on their state.

Though I do not share the Turks’ views on Israel in any degree, I defend their right to express their views as they have.





  • Chuck Bird
  • January 17th, 2009
  • 8:20 pm

Stephen, do you remember in the mid 60s landlords would advertise for flats and the final comment was Maori need not apply? I do. I have also heard from many sources that Maori were restricted to a certain part of the movie theater in Pukehohe. I am sure I could get this verified.

Individual landlords and employers are still able to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality. This is hard to stop entirely. However, they cannot easily get a real estate firm or employment agency to so for them easily. Would you like to see the clock turned back so this is possible?

This would be the thin edge of the wedge. To do so for some fringe ideological reason regarding private property would be detrimental to New Zealand’s international reputation.


[…] Franks blogs: Though I do not share the Invercargill Turks’ views on Israel in any degree, I defend them. I […]


It is the mechanism in some strikes. I defend the right of union members to refuse to unload freight from a state whose aggression they detest, to put pressure on that state’s citizens in turn to put pressure on their state.

Now, I’m not going to go back and check, but I’d be surprised if your votes on legislation backed up this view. Such strikes are presently illegal, and I’m doubtful you were pushing the Government to change…

[Graeme – I think you will find (if you can get the Hansard search engine working for you better than I can) that I did cover this in a speech, though as an example of an analogous freedom to be protected, because the political strike matter did not come up for vote while I was in Parliament, as far as I can recall.
It may have been when we were debating the bills that attacked mercenaries or some of the anti-terrorism bills on which I joined Keith Lock in concern about their effects on long cherished liberties. I strongly opposed the strutting and posturing of Goff and Marian Hobbs on the mercenaries bill because it would have enabled the government to arrest members and supporters of the International Brigade who fought facism in Spain.]

  • Jim Maclean
  • January 18th, 2009
  • 10:47 pm

I am almost bemused to find myself in a position of clear disagreement with Stephen on this one. I believe it is, and it should be illegal to discriminate here on country of origin. I would defend the Cafe’s right to put up a poster for example giving the proprioters point of view on the issue, but I cannot agree to allowing someone to refuse service to the public based on nationality.
It is a dangerous and slippery slope. The middle east cannot be sorted out by pressure from outsiders. It is important we do not import the hatred and entrenched positions which make it so impossible for those involved to find a solution.

  • Chris Auld
  • January 20th, 2009
  • 12:30 pm

Bravo Stephen,

My feelings exactly and indeed the true classical liberal view on the matter.

  • George
  • January 22nd, 2009
  • 12:39 am

I can think of as many reasons to not serve Israelis as I can to not patronise Turkish cafes. They all relate to individual and personal encounters. The surliness, chip on the shoulder and downright rudeness of the Israelis on one hand and the rip-off prices of my local terrible Turk on the other. [$4.50 for a single-scoop ice cream from his grasping mitt to mine!!!]
None of these reasons involve their governments however.

  • Gabe Giddens
  • February 4th, 2009
  • 12:24 pm

Looks like we do agree on alot of thins Stephen! Well said!

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