What's this blog about?

As a result of a combination of factors, culminating in the shameful UCU boycott-in-waiting of Israel, I've grown alienated & silenced, working here in one of the UK's finest universities all the while feeling like a Boycotted British Academic, alone in facing some dilemmas of the moment. In this generally chilling environment, it's hard to speak out and be heard, and hear others...and I find myself writing this blog.

What's it about? At present, it seems to me like a rather tortured articulation of the state of being silenced & mute, beyond words; struggling for the right even to use them, for a voice which can still be heard. When it started, all those successive boycott motions ago, I'd hoped it would function as a blog forum of support & solidarity amongst academics similarly-situated to BBA, to help us break through the boycott movement's silencing strategies. That hope remains notwithstanding this silence... Perhaps it lives in trying to articulate beyond the filter of these coping mechanisms of old (denial, avoidance, withdrawal); by way of this labour of finding the words, this voice...
[A forum of sorts has also arisen in the blog's comments, in which others have adopted the BBA moniker in case of need (e.g.
and here exposing the racist hate speech which masquerades as UCU solidarity activism).]

Friday, 12 October 2007

Google Hits

My site meter is revelatory. When I checked it today for the first time in ages, it informed me that one of the top ten Google searches which have lead people to this blog is:

"Lord Lester" Jew

I don't know why I'd still be shocked, given how I've not descended into this boycotted state for nothing. But still, this shocks me. Google explains the significance of searches involving the word Jew. Obviously, whatever the term used, the nature of the inquiry here says it all. The word is just added confirmation - as if one were needed!


Yet more evidence of how these boycotters seem to be going about dealing & coming to terms with UCU's opinion from counsel. You know, the one which confirms they've been devoting themselves all this time to a racist campaign, tirelessly committed to instigating bigoted discrimination on our campuses. Well, nothing like proving the charge in how one pursues one's defence!

At least that's clear & transparent then, none of the fine distinctions by which this sort of racism is usually masked. Like this one, set in stone as UCU diktat, decreed in the very same boycott motion whose non-boycotting elements are apparently preserved to this day:

criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic

If ever they need evidence that this proposition is false, there they have it - really, really close to home!

If UCU insists that this part of the motion survives, they might want to check out the definition of antisemitism put forward by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (formerly the European Monitoring Centre). As it stands, the proposition enshrined in UCU Motion 30 is just a useful cloak for racists and we all know how UCU has been cloaking in regal cloth and technicolour fibre all summer long a campaign which has now, and very belatedly, been recognized as discriminatory & unlawful.

Since I know of no way one can successfully or even plausibly claim that criticism of Israel - that all & any criticism of Israel - amounts to antisemitism, it's hard to fathom what exactly this part of the motion contributes to anything. It's an inversion, in fact, of how the issue of antisemitism enters the field, since that claim would amount to saying that Israel is exceptional and should be held accountable for its actions in a different way to all other nations; when, in reality, the opposite claim is that which makes the possibility of antisemitism salient. It's precisely when Israel is being held to higher, stricter or more exacting standards than other nations that one is caused to search for some other explanation.

If this part of Motion 30 survives, it would be important for UCU to explain that account has been taken of the definition proposed at the European supra-national level, to which we've often refered to instigate advances in our equality provisions and protections from discrimination. The EU definition rephrases the proposition:

criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic

And that's on the back of the EU having noted the various "ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel" and the criticism it receives (listed in the above link). At the very least, if this part of Motion 30 is to survive, it would need to be restated, factoring in qualification to take in those occasions when criticism of Israel does indeed amount to antisemitism.

Classically. As this Googling activity demonstrates.


And we should not forget, in pondering all of this, that one, and only one, motion failed to be carried unanimously at Congress in the cluster of motions dealing with equality/freedom from discrimination issues - can you guess? Yup, you got it :

Antisemitism in the UK and Europe (Barnet College, Hendon)

This union notes:
The 31% Increase in antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2006 over those in 2005.
The OSCE Berlin and Cordoba Declarations on the rise of antisemitism.
The Working Definition on Antisemitism of the European Union Monitor Centre.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism in the UK.

Believes that:
Antisemitism is becoming acceptable in the UK including on University campuses.
Universities must ensure that staff and students work in an atmosphere free from any racial discrimination and intimidation.

Resolves to:
Produce guidelines on antisemitism as part of its anti- racism campaigning.
Develop programmes with the CRE and The Board of Deputies of British Jews to educate academics and students about the dangers of antisemitism.
Implement all the recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism especially those relating to campus antisemitism

Notwithstanding that the motion wasn't passed, let's hope that UCU now applies itself to fulfilling the duties highlighted here, notably that it should work to ensuring "that staff and students [are able again to] work in an atmosphere free from any racial discrimination and intimidation." It has been a long time since I felt my workplace offered anything approximating this atmosphere and prime contributor, of course, with the brutal hit of its symbolic baggage, has been this boycott campaign which UCU bent over (and, I fear, near ruined) itself hosting and platforming.

Let's hope that the opinion from counsel obtained by UCU recently will be helpful to our union in understanding its broader duties more effectively in regard to promoting freedom from discrimination & intimidation on campus, rather than sorely exacerbating it. Judging by this boycott experience, there is obviously much to learn.

1 comment:

Boycotted British Academic said...

Checked the site meter again and there's a new, slightly more sophisticated variant of the original Google search which motivated this post:

"Lord Lester and the Board of Deputies of British Jews"