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).]

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Hello, Shalom! Hello, Salaam!

The Boycott Boosting Corporation (which is how I now refer to the BBC) went some way towards redeeming itself today for all the damage it does reporting from the region, not least of which is its enormous contribution to sustaining the environment in which the boycott movement was allowed to prosper.

How? With a moving programme, Calls Across the Wall, about a wonderful & humbling initiative for peace, Hello Peace, in which people on either side of the divide can just pick up their phones and dial a toll-free number (*6364) to be put in touch with someone from the other side. You can listen to the programme by clicking here.

Hello Peace is being run under the auspices of the admirable Parents Circle - Family Forum in which

bereaved families, victims from both sides, embark on a joint reconciliation mission while the conflict is still active. Consisting of several hundreds of bereaved families, half Palestinian and half Israeli, The Families Forum has played a crucial role since its inception in 1995, in spearheading a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Forum members have all lost immediate family members due to the violence in the region.

The phoneline was conceived as a way of widening the ambit of the conversational community The Families Forum had engendered, giving ordinary people on both sides the chance to take part in this process. Perhaps the boycotters can take note of how peace & reconciliation is done and quit their pathetic, damaging & negative posturing.

As we learn:

When people are stuck in despair and separation, someone needs to take a first step - someone has to be willing to reach out and begin talking again. The media keeps saying that ordinary Israelis and Palestinians don't want to talk about peace anymore, and don't believe that people on the other side want to talk either. But if hundreds of thousands of telephone calls are made between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians, we can show the media and our leaders that a new story is beginning to happen - that Israelis and Palestinians are actually beginning to talk again about how to move beyond the violence.

Instead of the discriminatory, bigoted measures they advance, these academic boycotters would have done well to emulate this example. They could have taken this 'first step'. They could have made a contribution to that 'new story'. They could, in particular, have endeavoured to bring academics from both sides together, building on local initiatives of this kind (the sort which motivate Professor Sari Nusseibeh, the president of the Al-Quds University, to oppose the boycott), by offering a platform in our universities and on our campuses in which the two sides can come together to seek reconciliation and build peace. Here are some links to information on such initiatives (and more, under the section 'Real Solidarity' & also the last comment posted to my blog-post on counter-boycott initiatives). But, no, instead they decided to boycott all this, alienating those of us who are already working to achieve peace & end the misery in the region. The message of Hello Peace is that:

it's time to stop the killing and start talking again

Will the boycotters even take their call, listen to and heed it?


Even if they don't, someone will (more here). What does it say about union politics if the bosses do the right thing while the unions run foul of discrimination laws?

In place of a boycott...

Last week, four British vice-chancellors visited Israel to strengthen ties with its universities and those in the Palestinian Territories.

...The common theme of both sides was that they were very pleased at the prospect of increased academic contact.

..."What we will be recommending is that more research be put into academic links both with Israel and the Palestinian Territories."


Boycotted British Academic said...

More real solidarity stuff:


...members are active in joint projects with Jordanians and Palestinian scholars...

Boycotted British Academic said...

And more: