The e-mail from one of the many shul-related lists I subscribe to caught my attention with its subject line: "Princess Cruise Line Boycotting Israeli Port."
"Say it aint so," was my reaction. "The Love Boat? Really?"
Like millions of others of my generation, I was subjected to untold hours of moronic entertainment as a kid back in the 70s and early 80s, when there were few other choices on pre-cable TV, courtesy of Aaron Spelling and ABC, including "The Love Boat," in which a huge cruise ship run by five people somehow safely navigated the Pacific while the captain shunned the bridge to give out relationship advice to the likes of Charo, Burt Convy, Florence Henderson and Paul Williams.
So no doubt I was only one of many recipients who, if only for the sake of nostalgia, opened that e-mail more quickly than, say, if it had been Carnival Cruises or some obscure company accused of snubbing the Jewish state.
The message informs us that on June 2, the Pacific Princess, the same ship featured on the series, carrying 700 passengers, canceled a stop at Ashdod, Israel and "is now bowing to pressure and boycottingIsrael." The sender urges us to "pass this on to all Jewish Americans in order to let them know that there are alternatives to Princess."
You don't need a certificate from detective school to check out information like this. Just Google, which almost anyone in the world, and 99 percent of Jewish Americans, can access within seconds. Hat tip to Boycott Watch, a Web site that cares about anti-Israel boycotts but not to the exclusion of the truth, and one of the top search results for "Princess cruise Israel boycott." The site, run by Fred Taub, got to the bottom of the matter pretty quickly with this letter from Princess Cruises:
Statement on Cruise Calls to Israel
In response to recent inquiries, we would like to clarify why we cancelled the Pacific Princess' call to Ashdod, Israel on June 2. The ship did call at Haifa, Israel the previous day on June 1.
Just two days prior to our scheduled call to Ashdod, a violent incident occurred between the Israeli Defense Forces and a flotilla of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip. This unfortunate event resulted in several fatalities.
Upon careful review of the situation and information provided by the US State Department and other sources, we were concerned about potential violence in reaction to the incident. Our decision, which was not politically motivated, was made in the best interest of the safety and security of our passengers and crew.
Pacific Princess is scheduled to call in Israel at the end of June, and we expect to maintain the published itinerary. However as with all of our ports of call, we continuously monitor information that may affect our ships' routings. Should a decision be made to make any adjustments, affected passengers would be advised as soon as possible.
Disagree if you will with the cruise line's assessment of how dangerous Ahdod may have been, but to slap a Hamas sympathizer label on the company because of it serves no one's interest.
There are fewer trespasses worse than motze shem ra, the besmirching of a good name, whether it belongs to an individual or corporation. The idea that this is done by people who appear to be observant and care about Israel is more distressing to me than the idea of a potential cruise line boycott of Ashdod.
It reminds me of the story circulating by email a while back that the UK had banned the teaching of the Holocaust. In different iterations of this email and in subsequent debunking, it was claimed that the United Kingdom was misunderstood as the University of Kentucky, or vice versa. The fact is neither report is true. I have also seen nonsensical action alerts regarding false traffic regulations, alleged computer viruses and political statements taken out of context.
The urgent plea for these alerts to be forwarded to as many people as possible suggests that in at last some cases they originate not from well-meaning but lazy people but those with a more nefarious agenda, like phishing for e-mail addresses or even planting malware. Our passion for Israel shouldn't make us a party to that kind of exploitation.
Not everything on the Internet is true. But don't take my word for it. Look it up.
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