The Virginia State Bar capitulates to terrorism

Last week, the Virginia State Bar (VSB) released an e-mail canceling a planned trip to Israel this November due to “unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security that affect travelers to the nation.”  Later, in an interview, Kevin Martingale, the VSB president, attempted to depoliticize his political argument by stating, “We are absolutely not making a political point,” but nobody bought it.

After an outcry over the cancelation, Martingale then walked back the more inflammatory explanations for his decision and argued, “The decision was based primarily on a U.S. State Department advisory: ‘Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements’” (which he had cited in his first e-mail as well).

In addition, Martingale asserted, “Our decision was not based on any political factors or influences.  We understand that Israel is in a difficult position when it comes to security.  We are not expressing opinions regarding Israel's border security measures.”

No offense to the profession, but only a lawyer could – in the same breath – assert that it is due to Israel’s security procedures that the trip is being canceled, but also that they aren’t saying there’s anything wrong with those security procedures given the security situation Israel faces.

That said, there is one way to thread that needle: Israel’s security measures are justified, but Martingale and some of his colleagues were uninterested in dealing with the hassle.

Israel employs extensive security measures at its international airport, and that can often be an annoyance.  But if the United States was able (if not obligated) to completely re-establish U.S. airport security after the September 11 terrorist attacks, doesn’t Israel have the liberty (if not the obligation) to similarly protect its citizens from terrorism?  Martingale might agree that Israel has the right to do so, but that’s not good enough for him.  The chance to experience a vibrant, democratic society, wherein the rule of law and protection of minority rights are core values (an anomaly in the Middle East), was not worth any additional screening that some might receive at the airport.

Terrorism is the cause of Israel’s security measures – and in his second e-mail, Martingale implicitly acknowledges this.  Thus, by choosing to cancel the trip to Israel over screenings at the airport, Martingale is capitulating to terrorism.  I take Martingale at his word that he was not seeking to advance a boycott against Israel; rather, I think that for whatever reason he has given those who necessitate Israel’s security measures – terrorists – exactly what they want.

Recently, efforts to boycott Israel have become commonplace in the headlines.  Tourism is one of Israel’s leading economic engines.  While perhaps not intended to be an economic boycott, the VSB’s capitulation to terror has the same effect.

One of our most basic duties as members of a free society is to ensure we do not allow ourselves to be bullied by violent bigots and radicals.  I hope Martingale agrees, and will thus reconsider his decision.

Chelsea Andrews, a Christians United for Israel campus activist, is the senior class president at Liberty University.