The Tour Company tour.is: Immoral and Illegal

When I studied philosophy in Reykjavik and Oxford long ago, one of the classic topics of discussion in classes were whether merchants could deny service to individuals on the basis of who they WERE and not what they HAD DONE (or said). I personally wanted as much freedom to choose one’s customers as possible (both ways, for buyers as well as sellers). But most philosophers think it is immoral and should also be illegal if for example hotels or restaurants refuse serving women, Blacks, Germans, or Jews, just because they are women, Blacks, Germans, or Jews. (Some would include gays, while others would argue, perhaps less plausibly, that being gay is a matter of choice and therefore a way of acting, not only being.)

Now Mr. Ingi Sverrisson who runs a licensed Icelandic tour company, tour.is, has refused to serve Israeli tourists in Iceland. He even tells the media that he is organising a concerted action of tour companies to deny any services to Israeli tourists. He gives as his reason that the Israeli Defence Force, IDF, is killing babies in Gaza. When asked about what Hamas did to Israeli babies, he says that he is not defending that but that a much smaller number of babies were killed by them. It is clear that under Icelandic law (No. 85/2018, article 1) Mr. Sverrisson’s action is illegal and that his license ought to be revoked immediately (if the law is taken seriously). This seems to be a task for the Icelandic authorities and perhaps also for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and others concerned.

But Mr. Sverrisson’s position raises some fascinating moral issues. He does not, for example, make a distinction between intentionally killing babies, often in the most gruesome fashion, like Hamas did, and babies losing their lives in a war, where there was no intention of killing them, but where they were used as human shields by Hamas. (What about the babies of Coventry or Dresden in the Second World War? Or in Kyiv today?) Neither does he provide an answer to the question at which point he would feel compelled to take action: Obviously not with 500 babies killed by Hamas as in Israel. But would 1,000 suffice? Or 5,000? Is his company, tour.is, also denying service to Chinese and Russian tourists? After all, China is busy killing Uyghur babies while Russia is killing an untold number of Ukrainian babies. Or is moral indignation to be reserved for Jews alone?


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BloggfŠrslur 11. nˇvember 2023

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