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).]

Thursday, 28 February 2008

"Dying for a Degree" at a College threatened by the Boycott

When the academic boycotters rationalize their racist campaign on the basis that it's necessary to protest against interference with the right to education (e.g.), they obviously don't have in mind the sort of interference experienced - day in, day out, year after year - by students at places like Sapir College in Israel's south, under attack from the rockets being fired from Gaza, now culminating, as a result of the latest barrage, in the inevitable: the fatality of a student on campus. The boycotters seem incapable of assimilating this Israeli experience for it's always predetermined as that of the bad guys involved in colonialism & apartheid, and all manner of other preposterous rhetorical exaggeration by which this conflict is described in popular discourse - by definition, if these are the terms by which the situation is conceived, suffering will always be one-sided; as will be blame for that suffering.

Meanwhile, today, a student at the College explains more clearly for us what is really going on outside the fantasy world imagined by the boycotters, a perspective which we can be sure will go unrepresented over here in Boycotting Britannia, since people here only seem to perceive a certain kind of suffering, only that which can be countenanced in the prevailing simplistic (and nauseatingly self-serving) narrative given to the conflict.

I wonder if the students who campaign up and down my campus for the education rights of their Palestinian counterparts might also spare a thought for the students who, like them, are just trying to study for a degree, albeit in Israel whose scapegoated pariah status today means getting an education under fire, effectively in a war zone, without any likelihood of being shown international solidarity - quite the contrary, for this gets them boycotts and divestment instead! Were our solidarity actions to be devised on the basis of a less selective conception of this conflict, no doubt we'd manage to come up with better ideas than this shameful one-sided, pathetic posturing encapsulated in the boycott movement; we'd settle upon actions of real solidarity, which actually seek peace rather than sorely retard it, as do those pushed for by the BDS crowd. But will these bonkers boycotters even pause to consider this, without immediately and automatically dismissing it as the work of some Ziocon propaganda outfit? Why, oh why, in this era in which the "Livingstone formulation" reigns supreme, do I still have the naivety ask?!

In the words of the Sapir student, Omri Keinan, describing the conditions in which he is trying to acquire his college degree:

What you will find if you come to Sapir is reinforced police presence, red signs that include instructions for cases of emergency, and loudspeakers that on occasion sound a hair-raising alarm that gives us less than 10 seconds to seek cover in the face of incoming rockets.

At Sapir College you will not find students sitting on the grass. They are scared to be left without shelter should rockets land. But you will find great fear here.

Sacrificing our life

It happens almost every day: A “Color Red” alert, Qassam rockets landing, and all this followed by tears, mass panic, and concerned phone calls from home. It happens to us during classes, it happens during breaks, and it happens during difficult exams.

We have already sustained property damage to the college before, but this time we are dealing with the worst possible scenario – the death of a student. To my regret, despite our army and the reinforced security deployment at school,** I do not have the confidence to say that tomorrow’s Qassam rocket will not hit me or any one of my friends at the college.

Can you comprehend that this is how students in Israel go about their studies? Do we need to sacrifice our lives for the sake of an academic degree?


** Most of the college's classrooms are not fortified, and on order from the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, some 40 classrooms and a third of the laboratories are not in use, because they are vulnerable to rockets and too far from a protected area. [source]

1 comment:

The Contentious Centrist said...

The irony caught my eye, too: