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).]

Saturday 29 March 2008

The Hydra of British Academia

Here in Boycotting Britannia, a monster lurks in the swamps, a monster which rises again and again to terrorize some of us who have to walk nearby. It terrorizes us with its most poisonous breath and the polluted air it leaves behind. And it reappears anew each time we thought it had gone away, apparently invincible, blusterously, as if unchallenged by the mechanisms which are meant to protect us from such beasts. Each time it looks to have been vanquished by these important weapons which we have long struggled to design and perfect, the monster returns somehow miraculously rejuvenated, reborn, and nothing seems to shield us effectively from its venom and belligerence; apparently - at least by the appearances UCU is keeping - not the protections aimed at safeguarding us from monsters such as this: our anti-racism laws and our guarantees of equality of treatment. Year after year - with each UCU Congress, swamp of swamps - the monster is resuscitated & emboldened. And with each year, it gets uglier, more beastly, more destructive, leaving greater damage in its wake. Legend has it that the hydra of the Lernaean swamps grew two heads (in some versions, three) in place of each one decapitated by Hercules. The more he fought the monster, the more ferocious and bold it became. As Ovid puts it, in Metamorphoses:

It throve on wounds: of all its hundred heads I cut off one but from its neck two more sprang to succeed it, stronger than before! [9. 69 ff (trans. Melville)]

And so it seems with this beast of an academic boycott: the more we fight it, the more it is cut down, the stronger it seems to re-emerge, year upon year, undaunted by the clear disapprobation of those the union is meant to represent, the overwhelmingly anti-boycott majority in the rank & file (as gleaned in a variety of reliable branch & other polls - short, of course, of the show-stopping ballot of UCU members which the boycotters so fear and contrive to avoid); emboldened, apparently, by a whole compendium of legal opinion, obtained through wasteful expenditure of union resources which are meant to be so scarce, each one attesting to the racist & illegal nature of this campaign, culminating, let us not forget, in the opinion of counsel authored in 2007 by none other than the godfather of our anti-discrimination and human rights laws. If none of this could stop this beast's destructive sweep, what will it take?

Not even half a year after it seemed to have been conclusively & categorically found to be in breach of those laws, marking yet another of those shameful moments when British unions seemed to want to be the instigators of racism, at the very earliest opportunity, the beast returns and UCU is yet again pushing a racist and illegal proposal. (For previous sightings of this monster and the story of the battle against it, see here.)

Remember, the hydra killed with its poisonous breath, just as this boycott beast harms with its venomous hot air, constantly blowing in places like the Bigot's Playground (UCU Activist List) all this time, regardless of the official position; and now, yet again, officially, by the terms of this latest proposed UCU motion, which wants to mandate yet more of this toxic, hateful posturing up & down our campuses, as if they are not already bad enough.

If we look to the Hydra myth for how this will turn out, it's not looking too good. The only way Hercules came out victorious was to burn the monster's severed stumps, thereby cauterizing the wounds and preventing regeneration of any more of those deadly heads. Why does UCU insist on playing so perilously close to the fire?

If only this were just the stuff of myths...
photo credit (Narcisse Berchere after Gustave Moreau)


Unknown said...

This is a message of positive support

I understand how you feel that you are drowning in a swamp of hate

But the attacks are just plain anti-semitism, disguised as anti-Israel

And it is all a plot, orchestrated by "dark forces", that are far more evil than the "jewish conspiracy" that we jews are accused of. For more about this, read: "Eurabia" by Bat Ye'or

I bet that the SWP are funded by anti-Israel supporters. Read Chapter 2 of "What's left" by Nick Cohen. In chapter 2 he writes about the 1970's equivalent of the SWP, the Workers Revolutionary Party. When it was disbanded they found that Saddam Hussein had given them £30,000, probably more than £300,000 in today's money

"What's Left" is a wonderful read to help re-set your critical faculties

I have some articles that I have written about antisemitism that may help you. Please send me an email to: taskforce972 AT btinternet.com


Anonymous said...

Return to the bigot's playground
Posted by Your View

This is a guest post by UCU Whistleblower

Sometimes it's best to get your retaliation in first. So if you're reading this (hello "Lenin"), I'm no well-funded Zionist hack.

Readers of Harry's Place will be familiar with the University College Union and its infamous activists' list. Well now they're at it again. No surprise there, of course. But this time some posters have excelled themselves in their bullying, bigotry and – it goes almost without saying – antisemitism.

Having read the emails circulating on this list what I can see is that some people (not necessarily even academics) are playing political football. Only here the referee, Matt (what's up?) Waddup, is making up the rules as he's going along.

In one of his *catchphrase* 'universally popular interventions' Waddup banned David Hirsh from posting on the list. Along with several other activists, Hirsh has been extremely effective in challenging the Union's proposed boycott of Israeli academics. It doesn't look as though he'll be allowed back on the list anytime soon and now people posting Hirsh's words and arguments are getting banned from the list as well.

As a sample of the toxic atmosphere, we have:

(1) Noel Douglas (programme leader in graphic design at the University of Bedfordshire) attacking a Jewish lecturer for having a 'basic lack of humanity when confronted with overwhelming evidence to the crimes of the Israeli State'.

The argument is that Jews divide into two types: the 'good' and the 'bad'.

For the likes of Douglas 'good' Jews are those who support the boycott, who desire the destruction of the Jewish character of the Israeli state (this is marketed as the 'one state solution'). 'Good' Jews are likely to maintain the fiction that Israel is a unique evil on the planet, an exceptionalism of the highest order. Sometimes they can be dead as well – just to be on the safe side, because it's difficult to contradict someone from the grave. Hence Douglas's cynical invocation of the Holocaust to protect himself from charges of antisemitism (yes, much like the boycott-promoting Tom Hickey of the SWP) he has designed a 'Love Music Hate Racism Carnival' programme which includes tributes to Holocaust survivors).

'Bad' Jews on the other hand appear for Douglas and others to argue in bad faith: they use the charge of antisemitism to stifle debate about the Israeli occupation. This is a classic antisemitic motif – Jews lie and therefore cannot be trusted. 'Bad' Jews are also 'Zionists' because even if they criticize the Israeli occupation of the West Bank they nonetheless accept the existence of the state on pre-1967 borders. This is disingenuous as Norman Geras, Hirsh and others have repeatedly argued.

(2) Jonathan Rosenhead (Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics) lambasting another Jewish lecturer and colleague at the LSE. Conveniently forgetting Union directives about bullying in the workplace, he reprimands this person for not attending branch meetings, contemptuously dismissing this person's voice in this debate. A characteristic feature of Rosenhead's posts are ad hominem attacks, which do not compensate for the intellectual poverty of his arguments.

(3) Haim Bresheeth (Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London) prefacing or ending every post with the formula that he speaks as a Jew as though this somehow protects him from criticism. Bresheeth has argued elsewhere that the 'lives of individuals, Jews and non Jews' were secondary to 'the Zionist enterprise in Palestine' and that is why the Zionists were involved in 'collaboration' with the Nazis 'over the death of almost a million Jews'. So that should be borne in mind when reading his latest hysterical outbursts;

'I want to confront this hypocrisy using anti-semitism as a rod against liberal and humanist critics of war crimes: I criticise Israel BECAUSE I am Jewish, because I am Israeli, because Nazi racists have killed my whole family and NO ONE DID ANYTHING TO STOP THEM!'

Like Douglas, he is fond of levelling the charge that 'bad' Jews use antisemitism to shut down debate. But he also seems to be linking Zionism with the tragic murder of his family. If that is the case then I pity him and recommend he seek psychiatric treatment.

(4) Keith Hammond (Lecturer in Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Glasgow). He repeatedly argues

'No one should be scared off by this "anti-Semitism" stuff'; 'Let the anti-Semitism slurs fly - it is not as though the tactic is new or unexpected.'

For Hammond antisemitism is little more than a 'tactic' used by "Zionists" in bad faith to silence debate. In the words of Motion 30, passed by the University College Union: 'criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-Semitic'. Those who warned of the consequences of this clause have proven to be prophets. Antisemitism on the activists' list is now not even an inconvenient truth, merely an irritating distraction.

The University College Union is supposedly an anti-racist organization. But the boycott motion on the Congress agenda goes against the legal advice of Lord Lester, that the boycott would be unlawful, and discriminatory in effect.

Given its obsession with Israel and the Palestinians, given the poisonous antisemitism that Union officials enable on the activists' list, is it any wonder that many rank and file members have come to despair of UCU?


Anonymous said...

From: Noel Douglas

Dear David,

let me make myself clear. I realise there is a 'left' within Israel
that is critical of the occupation but wishes to continue to see
Israel exist and have some form of two state solution, I presume this
is your position.

I think Israel and the Zionist project which drives it is
structurally driven to violence and oppression, aligned as it is with
US Imperialism and there, therefore can be no just peace without a
one secular state being created where Jews and Arabs live side by
side. I presume you think this is anti-semitic, despite there being a
rich tradition of anti-Zionist Judaism that would suggest otherwise.

Furthermore Israel's actions in the Occupied territories make a
Palestinian State unviable from the pock-marked landscape they are
left exist in.

So therefore to me, to support Israel, even if you think there is a
'good' Israel that can be separated from the 'bad' Israel, a
distinction which doesn't stand up to investigation of the evidence
of the *actual* actions of the Israeli State means that I would say
you implicitly support the dehumanisation of a whole people, the
Palestinians, therefore I think you lack some humanity and are being
wilfully blind.

At a deeper level, as Marxist and atheist, your beliefs are for me,
based not on reason but on a fairy tale called the 'Old Testament'
and this cannot be used to justify the ongoing situation as it
stands, my politics has in the main been taught to me by Jews who
were able to move beyond religion to take on a better explanatory
theory of the world, namely people like Trotsky, Luxemburg etc.

Finally the real victims of racism today, that is almost a par with
the anti-semtism of the 20/30s are not Jews, but Muslims and in my
experience those who attack me from the right by claiming I am anti-
semitic for wishing to see the end of the State of Israel, are rarely
to be seen actually confronting racism and Fascism on the streets and
where we live to make sure it cannot develop against anyone,
regardless of religion or lack of. I'm not suggesting that this fits
with your background as I don't know about that, but that is my

I prove my commitment to anti-semitism by action. Like, for instance,
the amount of work that I personally have put into the Love Music
Hate Racism carnival this weekend which will go further and have much
more effect in stopping the BNP and therefore stopping the growth of
anti-semitism than a thousand Engage websites and email to mailing



Anonymous said...

Dear David,

For a lecturer your grammar and sentence construction is pretty
appalling, your comment seems largely incoherent, but that's an aside.

I don't expect you to agree, what troubles me more is your basic lack of
humanity when confronted with overwhelming evidence to the crimes of the
Israeli State.

I have no wish to see any Jews or anyone else harmed, I want a peaceful
secular state in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs live side by side
in peace like they used to, and in terms of my own political commitment
I have been active against Racism and Fascism for years.

In fact I have just finished designing the 'Love Music Hate Racism'
Carnival Programme which includes tributes to Holocaust survivors, Leon
Greenman and Henry Guterman who both sadly died this year. The Carnival,
which will happen next Sunday in London, will be the largest show of
anti-racist and anti-Fascist sentiment this country has shown for years.
The Carnival's main aim is, of course, to stop the Fascist BNP from
getting elected this May.

So I'm sorry to shatter your illusions but the charge of anti-semitism
just won't stand.

Best Wishes,


Anonymous said...

hort report from Leeds Tour meeting on Palestine

Around 40 members attended a lunchtime, ticket-only meeting today to hear Lisa Taraki and Saed Abu-Hijleh, both academics from Palestine,
speak about the daily difficulties faced by students and teachers alike in going about the daily business in Israeli occupied West Bank. ...

I'd urge you all to attend where ever you can and contribute to the discussion - I hope that some first hand facts might change the tone of
contributions to the list from the sometimes hysterical accusations of anti-semitism to an informed discussion as to what the Union and our
members can do to help our Palestinian colleagues in their desperate hour of need.

Dr Gavin Reid
School of Chemistry
University of Leeds

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

I am not going to bore anyone by reviewing the various episodes of the current hysteria about anti-********. I am tired of these manic postings. But I am noting the way people we are all starting to avoid any mention of how amidst the worst humanitarian crisis in Gaza there is no concern being expressed by our Israeli colleagues in their universities. I wonder if they are having a parallel discussion ...

Israel is deep in denial of the suffering of Palestinians. It needs help in coming to its senses. We all know this but this latest situation cannot be denied. Gaza needs food and it needs fuel. There is going to be massive health problems prettty soon because there is no clean water. For the UN to have removed humanitarian support because of the food and fuel difficulties coming from Israel is horrendous. The UN on the BBC this morning were reported as describing Israel�s actions as �collective punishment�. Are we going to start accusing the UN of anti-******** ?

So how about some education on Zionism Marian ? But there I go again � I keep forgetting myself. Sorry. I had forgotten Mearsheimer and Walt tried that one.

Keith Hammond

Anonymous said...

Last week, Israel's deputy defence minister - Matan Vilnai - threatened the Palestinians with a holocaust and there was very little said about this threat even though it was reported on all the major networks. Israeli politicians are able to use this language because they know they can get away with it - just like they get away with so much else that is far worse than their threats. Are we as a union not concerned? Israel is only able to get away with its atrocities because it claims to be this universal victim that is completely outside of international condemnation.

I really do think the boycott issue should be discussed again because of Gaza ... My concern is that if no pressure is brought to bear on these racists then they will get away with more and more of this violence ....

My worry really is that unless the Israelis are brought under control then we are going to see much worse. Surely all this means we should be talking about the boycott again - knowing that without a boycott we are partially responsible for things moving on to further massacres ...

Keith Hammond

Anonymous said...

Trade union discussion is about domestic and international issues; and as a number of postings have made clear, one coming to the fore at one point in time does not stop the other coming forward at another. What this Stop the War issue shows is the way the protection of Israel comes before everything else and in everything whether it is a discussion relating to domestic or international issues. And if this is there in our union and it clearly is then it should be out in the open .... So I must say, I am quite glad that some of these ugly postings are being seen for what they are ....

This protection of Israel at all costs approach is about doing exactly what it is doing right now. There is no clarity. It is like a madness. Claims about points of logic and so forth have nothing to do with the issues at hand. I am recommending that people sign up on this list and look through the postings for themselves ....

People may be bored and think so many of the postings are a waste of their time and of course they can then remove themselves from the list but I think these postings are really instructive. And some quarters are really showing what they are about ....

Keith Hammond

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to be agreed that we need to know all the legal details behind the release of first statement and the communication that came to all us members on the web at the end of September - yes ? Similarly everyone wants to know the context in which "legal advice" came about - 'who' sought it, 'why' was it sought exactly and 'why' at this time ? We keep minutes of all the important meetings and the decisions taken surely ? And these answers surely have to come out without any further delay. What is going on ... ? Just as there are lots of people who are medicine and are for the boycott, there must be similar people in law who are for the boycott and not for stopping it ?

But maybe before anything else we should have all these legal details out in the open. I still fail to see how boycotting the institutions of a racist state on the grounds that they are racist could be covered by the RRA. Sure that Act was all about protecting people from racism - just like the boycott - and so how could there a conflict ? And all this is about protecting the Palestinians why are we arguing about things in the abstract as though the Palestinian people were not part of this?

As so many colleagues have said the UCU being prohibited from boycotting racist universities (not individuals) on the grounds of an Act that is supposed furher the fight against racism just gets everything in a tangle. If that tangle is there then should it not be be tested so that clarification can follow ... There are so many big problems that simply cannot be left not sorted out ... so much ambiguity surrounding this whole business that it really needs every datail to be out in the open - immediately - so that we can decide where to go ... Why is this not happening ?

Keith Hammond
2007-10-09 23:54:00

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

Whilst I can understand some people feeling fed up of all these emails, I still think it would not be a good idea to form a separate list - a separate list for Palestine issues.

Palestine and the boycott are particular issues but they involve issues that go way beyond the particular. Look at the way the legal "advice" on a boycott has overflowed into much broader issues to do with trade union law and what unions can and cannot be about if they are to watch their backs with law ... And I think the entire membership should be given the full legal details of this advice on the boycott!

Issues of Palestine are now determining tenure issues in the States. Can we expect the Zionist lobby to go the same way here ... Bread and butter issues cannot be neatly compartmentalised so that we have separate arrangements for what is "safe" (and does not threaten Zionism) and "not safe" (in what actively opposes Zionism).

So whilst I appreciate that some people must think the bulk of all this stuff is a pest, I still think it would not be in the general interest of everyone to have a separate list.

Someone earlier in one of these postings said that what we discuss, in what context and in what kind of forum, determines the identity of the union; and I am sure this is right. So if we want to build a union that puts international issues at the front then we have to go for including everyone in those issues. We cannot separate off Palestinian debate.

I am against a separate list.

Keith Hammond
2007-10-04 16:49:00

Anonymous said...

David's concerns for equality are encouraging. But they are twisted - as so many of the contributions moving around his politics of denial ... He mentions previous generations of trade unionists seeking equality. These people were clear; they did not twist things in this horrible way that has now become the standard for David's statements. It is all about scoring points for Israel and not looking at the situation out there. It is racist right down to its core. Is the aim of those supporting Palestinian academics to expose this rotten Zionist. Why is that so difficult to understand? Everything put forward in good faith gets distorted by David and his team and it is obscene. It is not just about different plays on words ... it is a whole campaign of denial that started in 1948 with this "land without people, for a people without land". Ilan Pappe showed the truth of the situation but since then the whole apparatus of denial has moved on to even more horrible corruptions and evasions.

At some point I hope you pull back David and think. Really think about what you are doing. There are many brilliant and outstanding people of the Jewish faith who are upset by all this nonsense. These people really do stand up for justice. A debate should take place in the union but my feeling is that we will get more and more of these denials and evasions until the boycott actually happens and the system in Israel is confronted - not by violence but by academics who refuse to ignore what is going on. After reading David's piece however I think there is masses of work to be done. So clearly there must be more and more discussion.

Can I encourage those reading the postings to go to the Alternative Information Center (AIC) [www.alternativenews.org] and to look at the facts these people have collated on 'The Case for Academic Boycott against Israel'... it really is outstanding research and many of these people take huge risks in putting this information together. This document however should inform the debate ...

Keith Hammond
2007-10-02 14:14:00

Anonymous said...

Hello Colleagues ...

Maybe on this occasion we should follow the example of Israel ...
They have always ignored law when it suited them ... Look at the International ruling on the legality of the wall ... Speaks for itself ... Israel takes no note of international consensus about common ordinary decent standards - simple as that.

Also Ariel ... Is that your tactic here - separation when it suits?
Maybe a few walls around people who support the boycott or better still ... herd us all into camps.

I do not think anything has been settled in all this ... What is interesting however is that the same old tactics are employed. Israel claims to be a Jewish state THEREFORE anyone who crioticises Israel is anti-Jewish but there are more and more Jewish people who are revolted by Israel's racism. These people of course are supposed to be self haters ... But llok at the recortd of these people ... People like Harold Pinter anmd Jaquiline Rose - outstanding records on international human issues. You do not see these people callinbg for separations and walls like Ariel ...

I think discussion must go on and it is OK for that discussion to be about pay and the boycott ... What does it say about democracy if you have a list where only certain things can be discussed ...

Oh I think there is a lot to be said still .... And it will be said do not worry about that ... And by the way anyone who is interested in boycott issues should go to the ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTRE (an Israeli/Palestinian organisation) and look at THE CASE FOR ACADEMIC BOYCOTT - it is OK for you to look Ariel no one is banning you ...

Keith Hammond
2007-10-01 12:01:00

Anonymous said...


There is a general point that maybe needs stating - discussion when it is authentic and not controlled by an agenda is often messy. No one wants to fly the flag of Palestine over the union headquarters for goodness sake. A wee bit of a mess now and again seems to me to be one of the characteristics of an exchange. No one dashes off to see lawyers - well most do not !!! And no one talks about splitting into groups. This is a brilliant union and this online facility is brilliant - even if people like Eve do not like honest concerns being expressed ....

The Boycott issue does not squeeze other things like pay out of the frame ... But how can we argue for a fair and just rate of pay and reasonable working contracts and conditions if we cannot speak up for people like the Palestinians who are surrounded by the apartheid wall ? There have been endles points that have emerged that are important. They are important because they are big ... And in the case of this boycott stuff the contest is going to take the form of competing narratives ... which are not always neat and tidy. So it is not a case of "you say IDF" and "I say PLO" stuff because one person will mention one thing - like Eve here - and someone else something else like me ... But surely this is the mess that is as I say real democracy which we seem to get so little of now. Democracy is not LA LAW though I am aware that others feel differently ... there are always people who are going to want to police debate ... and threaten things. People are passionate about Palestine because there are these different narratives in a broader relationships about truth in history and so on and what academics can and cannot talk about ... And of course there is a Palestinian side to things that is always silenced by the Eve's and it has been kept out of debate for almost 60 years ... So as I say there is going to be some fur flying in all this ... However I must say I do not like this demonising of certain people ... just because they stand up for Palestine !

Now specifically for Eve ...

Why do you not come clean and say what 'exactly' concerns you about this debate? Is it because Israel is being considered critically? Is it because no one accepts that "Israel" equates with "peace and justice" anymore ? You say the "situation in Zimbabwe (where the life expectancy of a Zimbabwe woman is about half that of a Palestinian woman" - nothing about Israeli woman here ... especially the relationship of Palestinian and Israeli womem) "or the Sudan, or North Korea, all loci of horrors which the UCU seems quite complacent about, and which it (the UCU) seems able to contemplate without feeling driven to take action" ... So you have nothing against the union taking on all these international issues ? But not when it comes to Israel - why ? You are upset ? It is because we are talking about Israel? But why should that upset you so ? What is so special about Israel that you should consider it right to look the other way, overlooking out and out war and racist policies that hammers the hell out of the Palestinians ?

Then you really start to warm to your mission when you say "If members of the UCU really think that people with 'those views' about force should be boycotted, then they ought to be boycotting Palestinian universities as well as Israeli ones" ... Wowwwww ... now you are getting into your stride. For someone who seems so against boycotts in principle, you sure do seem to suddenly blow warm when it is not about Israel.

But now you come to the crunch in your posting. UK academics, "especially ones who support a descriminatory boycott" (nothing discriminatory here of course - all the charges work one way ... which is of course exactly how you want everyone else to think about the boycott is it not ? It could not have anything to do with the Palestinians because they are not real are they ? It could not have anything to do with a dreadful occupation that has gone on for forty years and been denounced by the UN God knows how many times and ignored by Israel .... But here we gooooo: UK academics "are not to be regarded as an authoritative source of moral instruction by the Israelis, nor should they be" because Israel is so special it is beyond critique ! Why would that be then Eve ... ?

And then towards the end of your contribution you really get a bit of wind behind your sails and say it is British academics you are thinking about because it "will drive Jewish members out of the union" ... "which will no longer be a fit place or safe place for them". Now that is downright false. Most people who battle for Palestine have outstanding anti-racist records AND YOU KNOW IT !!!! To be for Palestine is to be against racism Eve and you are not getting away with that one !

Everyone is looking at this union and they are expecting us to behave like thoughtful people who really do think about justice in this world and so on. But you are not for that when it involves academics looking at the dreadful actions of Israel because it is not on ... Rubbish.

Keith Hammond
2007-09-27 17:41:00

Anonymous said...

I am sure that if I have not grasped the concept of debate then I could follow old Aristotle and emulate your good self and start throwning around the details of what happened in Jenin in 2002 - Oh but I forget ... that did not happen really did it!

Keith Hammond
2007-09-27 15:35:00

The Contentious Centrist said...


Anonymous said...

"One of the things I find disturbing about the way people argue against me on these matters is to attribute concepts and phrasings I did not say
and then use these as a stick to beat me with.

The first concentration camps were set up for Communists and Socialists like myself (you seem to have missed them of your list of victims of the
Nazis), Fascism is not specifically about killing Jews but destroying the left, should I therefore not, if I took your way of arguing, lay
special claim to be worried about the growth of parties of the BNP? (I'm am *not* saying that I should, to be clear just making a point)

Yes anti-semitism is a problem in the world, but it is nowhere near as much a problem as Islamophobia at the moment, take a look at the press and see how closely the demonisation of Muslims (or those who 'look' like Muslims) is to the demonisation of Jews in the 20/30s. Similarly
this must happen because the Neo-cons are attacking countries with large Muslims populations and trying to pass it off as a war of Civilisations.

This is why Israel and Zionism are a problem, Israel could not exist without the money and arms from the US, I know it was set up in the
aftermath of the Holocaust, I understand the Jewish concern in that sense, but it doesn't alter the fact that Zionism went to the side of
Imperialism and it is indeed a tragedy that the children of the worst example we have of Human beings inhumanity to each other should
currently be presiding over the destruction of another people.

One of the films I show my students is Night and Fog and we use that as a discussion about the Holocaust and Fascism so please save the
patronising tone about needing to visits the camps.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me about a one state solution, I don't mind robust debate, we are after all in that business surely, I
don't apologise for anything I've said on here (except when I criticised David's writing style, a slip as I was angry, sorry David on that one),
I wlll work with anyone who is serious about peace in the Middle East whether they believe in a one state or two state solution, but I am not
going to be stopped from making my critique of the two state solution and those who uphold some idea of Israel continuing as I think this will just prolong the agony.

That's my view and I'm not going to be blackmailed into not having it by being called 'anti-semitic'. You also seem to think it arrogant to think
that someone would believe that there strategy for stopping racism and Fascism is better than others, again no apologies there...I used practical examples of what I do, which I am proud of because David seems to want to keep the debate at an abstract, theroetical level. I make no
apologies for saying that actually going into the streets and stopping the BNP is more effective than a petition or whatever, but again that's
my view and I support anyone who is serious about anti-racist and anti-Fascist activity in whatever they feel able to do.

Finally, there have been a lot of complaints from Jewish members on here about feeling harrased, maybe you'd like to take a look here under the
heading 'Return to the Bigot's Playground', it's instructive in it's hysteria:


and look at the comments left here:


To see the abuse metered out to me, because someone from this list has posted my comments and distorted them to say I think there are good and
bad Jews rather than Israel, and again use this lie to claim that I am anti-semitic, this post was done by someone who doesn't have the guts to
reveal his/her identity but they seem to think t it's fine to provide direct links to my work website, so now lies about something I said on a
private list can now be found by anyone searching via Google.

So do I get my turn to feel harrased now? Can I complain to anyone?

Best Wishes,
Noel Douglas

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone

Did anyone hear Mark Regev on the news this morning? As he talked about the flat rejection of the Hamas offer - an informal truce in and around Gaza - he used the term "townships" - a word which was surely telling. The arrogant dismissal of the peace offer reminded me so much of the way the old rigid positions in Trade Union bargaining used to work. However, what was fascinating about Regev's statement was that it showed the language of Israel is gradually working towards an open embrace of the Apartheid vocabulary ... I find this fascinating about Israel, they do not go in for any of the crazy waffle that defenders of Israel spew out on the DAN. It was fascinating (as well as horrible) and quietly disturbing. The team that Regev represents do not care a hoot about law! It really was instructive. It reminded me of Keith Joseph and Thatcher and those people. These Zionists are of another time. I am hoping that Segev's position is a bit much for one or two of the Israeli academics and more will speak out against the occupation. It will be interesting to watch the situation and see if this happens ...

Bye Keith Hammond

Anonymous said...

John Fry, Liverpool University UCU:


This is nonesense! Participating in any debate on the activists' list is voluntary. There is no sense in which anyone is forced into a situation where (s)he is being bullied or harassed. I suppose I could probably make some sort of case for harassment for being bombarded with E_Mails that I find offensive when I have asked you all to stop - but I'm sure someone will mention academic freedom if I do so.

It is even more nonesensical to talk about the Union not supporting an individual who participates in the list. UCU gives the privilege to all members of contributing to the list, subject to the gentle policing which Matt has attempted. [If anyone has a case for feeling bullied or harassed it would be Matt, since he cannot step away and say "A plague on both your houses" - as I can do.] How could the Union step in without a) Joining the debate, or b) Banning someone from the list? The former would only be acceptable if UCU supported "your" side of the argument; the latter is not respected by the very members of the list who are complaining.

I suppose it is pointless for me to repeat my plea that you all refrain from the childish bickering and trade your political insults somewhere else, so may I just say: Grow Up.


Anonymous said...

From Haim Beresheeth

Dear Friends,

I strongly suggest that all refrain from answering or taking up the comments by David Seymour. To do so would be to continue and feed his seemingly endless appetite for name calling and conflictual debate which depends on abusive terms, as the message below shows only too clearly. Please do not succumb to the obvious temptation, and ignore this rude intervention. We have been asked by Marion to adopt a mature tone, and all seem to have agreed to do so. Those who continue to use personal attacks should not be honoured by a reply. We must have a debate on facts, not a dog-fight.


Anonymous said...

Dear Geoff and Noel

This type of action is utterly intolerable. The rules of the list are clear. As many on the list know, I had a major disagreement with someone over this type of action. Nothing from the list should be reproduced externally- and especially it should not be selective comments with interpretations. However, the response i got when i objected was "it is not a private golf club". In addition, you will find references on Harry's place to the "stalinist" approach to the list because itis not all public. However, the rules apply to all topics- i would not like to think personal caseissues raised on here are made public. All topics thus should be treated in the same manner. Thus, nothing should be made public.

Noel, you have my full support and sympathy in this incident. A similar incident happened to me last June when I turned down an invitation to attend an anti-boycott event. IO was asked could my declining e-mail be made public. I said no. However the person went on to publish their response to me which completely twisted and made insinuations about me. This forced me to publish my actual e-mail.


Jimmy Donaghey
School of Management
Queen's University Belfast

The Contentious Centrist said...

"I prove my commitment to anti-semitism by action." Noel Douglas, 24 April 2008 11:12

Aa Fruedian slip?

Anonymous said...

Like quite a lot of others I feel tired from getting bulks of messages on an hourly basis with this endless discussion going on, and have very rarely felt the need to say something. However, I now feel that I might add a few words.

First, I find the whole talk about anti-semitism as an attempt to shift the focus from attacking the IDEA of Zionism and the Isreali politics inspired by it, and subsequent terror it has brought on the Palestinian people. Not all people (in this case Jews) buy into one and the same idea (as we know, it wasn't even the case in WWII). Therefore, I don't we could comfortably say that ZIonism=Judaism, and therefore, all Jews are Zionists. We know that it isn't either true or correct. So, I can't see how attacking an idea may equate to attacking an entire nation or one people. I personally would strongly oppose if a member of my people spoke on my behalf trying to represent me if I did not agree with him. Nobody could have a carte blanche to speak in the name and on behalf of the entire nation. Thus, I don't think that we can box all Jewsih people in a package labelled Zionism, and therefore consider one's opposition to the idea of Zionism as an attack on the 'entire package'.

So, why now try to focus on the real essence of the entire discussion: Zionism and the official politics of Israel, and its effects on innocent Palesinian civilians who have been denied the basic human rights as a result of such a politics?

As to the boycott, I simply see the point of the boycott and similar actions as a way of political pressure to try and change the official politics of one government. We are all familiar with sanctions and even bombing of parts of the world (e.g. Lybia, Iraq) that were endorsed by the International community in order to remove oppressive regimes and a certain politics that had far more severe/devastating effects on the entire civilian population of those countries (children, women, elderly etc.) than a boycott would have on Israel. But how do you change one politics if you do not put pressure on the people of that country to make them stand against their government? And are you (or anybody in their right mind) prepared to support building a College on settlements that were once legally the Palestinian land? Would you allow anyone to come and build a shed in your garden, driving you out of there (although it would be only a very tiny piece of land), and them pride myself in having the most beautiful shed in the neighbourhood expecting others to admire its beauty, and praise and applaude the perpetraitor? And what would you think of those neighbourghs who would dare applaude someone invading you garden?

As to the bullying, I could never see a political discussion to be deemed as bullying. However, for those who claim this to have been so it would be interesting to invite them to state the exact quotes that they find to constitute bullying. I always believe that claims have to be substantianted by hard facts (what, where, when,and who).


Anonymous said...

I can appreciate Jon's comment that 'he is not interested in
discussing this matter (Mary Rizzo's alleged anti-semitism) any
further' insofar as some of the pro-Zionist/anti-Zionist debates on
this website have gone on irritatingly tendentious and extended
manners, but I (not knowing Mary Rizzo personally) can only say that
his charge about her being 'a notorious antisemite and supporter of
Holocaust revisionism' is not supported by any of the material he

She does say that banning debate on the Holocaust is wrong, but all
the other assertions that allegedly prove her rabid antisemitism are
either claims by others about her guilt by association (these usually
relate to Gilad Atzmon, the Israeli saxoponist, who is represented
only by quotes from others attacking him) or by a single (stupid)
entry by a participant in a debate on her blog (and I'm not sure I'd
like to be 'tarred' with some of the statements made on the UCU blog
with which I can easily be associated).

Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer
Department of Anthropology
University of Kent at Canterbury

Anonymous said...

From: Haim Bresheeth
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 22:58:15
To: Jenna Delich

Dear Jenna,

Thank you for a concise and accurate message, which opens the arena of the real world, as opposed to the tactics of avoidance and denial which have been used by some of our members. Thank you also for pointing out that Jews should NOT be automatically included in the package of Zionism - never has
this been less true than currently. Moreover, is it not interesting,
fascinating even, that the very people who claim to be so deeply shocked by our attempt to help Palestine and its people by suggesting a boycott, are
never shocked by what Israel is doing. While the boycott we are suggesting is a civil and bloodless measure of international support and solidarity, the closure Israel has enforced on Gaza, and the continued killing of civilians is a barbaric measure of collective punishment, which no Jew (or
non-Jew) should support. By methodically refusing to discuss the occupation and its daily atrocities, and by forcing us to discuss instead their agenda
of UCU anti-Semitism, they are committing two unforgivable social crimes; the first is obviously being indifferent or hostile towards the suffering of
a whole nation. The second is not less serious - by pretending that UCU is where anti-Semitism is rampant, they are misleading and directing attention from real racism and anti-Semitism, when we have quite enough of the real
McCoy on British streets, not to mention the tabloid press. Of course, most racist outbursts in Britain are against Muslims, a fact also seemingly avoided or denied by many of the opponents of UCU action to support Palestine. It would have been much better and also more efficient, if we all joined forces against ALL and EVERY form of racism, rather than separating
people. This common effort would also work to reduce anti-Semitism,
obviously - something which I am sure we all are interested in, or at least I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Dear Haim,

I completely agrew with your every point including the ones on the current position of Muslims in Britain and even wider in the world.
As to the sufferings of the Palestinian people I, as a human being would expect every free individual to imagine what they would feel like if they were subjected to such a lasting terror on a daily basis, and being denied basic human rights as is the case with innocent Palestinian civilians. Everyone should try to imagine how it'd feel if they tried to go to work, or sent their children to school and had to cross checkpoints, walk the streets or sit at home and not know whether the next moment they could get killed with a (made in the USA) shell or other similar projectile. Isn't an attempt to brutally wipe an entire nation off the face of the earth the worst form of racism as it is denying one nation/people their right to life and existance?
It is the idea/ideoology (Zionism) that is being criticised here, not the people. And whereas I kept quiet most of the time (and got really tired from bulks of emails) I felt that it was necessary to try to shift the focus back to the real issue which was about criticising actions and not the people. And so I wrote a few emails.

Like yourself, I also support the idea that we should all stand united against all forms of racism against all people and religions (with no double-standards or selectiveness). All people are born equal, and deserve an euqal right to live, and an equal right to respect.


The Contentious Centrist said...


For the first time I begin to understand more tangibly the sense of alienation and moral claustrophobia you have been describing in your blog. The sheer volume of verbiage is only bested by the overflow of contempt for Israel, Jewish suffering and verifiable recorded history. The combination of phoney moral indignation and the carpeting of your comment space (which resembles spam rather than proper discussion) with righteous loathing for Jews and Zionists creates a toxic atmosphere which seems nearly impossible to withstand without getting drowned. I can well unserstand why you would feel besieged and muzzled if these are the kind of "intellectuals" or "academics" you must live with for at least part of every day.

I watch the many tears of these "anti-Zionist" crocodiles shed over "terrorized" Palestinians and wonder how anybody can deceive themselves to this extent, that they can so easily make common cause with terrorists and genocidal organizations, to destroy a thriving state and annihilate its beleaguered people for the sake of some poorly-understood and even more-poorly applied ideology. Empty vessels making lots of noise.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I am not convinced as actions speak louder than words.
And the Israeli actions (supported by the US weapons) we have been
seeing and reading about on a daily basis.
For me to be convinced in even a small part of what you have been
claiming it would take only actions which is to give the land and
properties back to Palestinians (as those were taken away from them,
and they have deeds to prove it) and allow them to return to their

Let's turn the tables and give an example:
Say, I came to your house, drove you out of there, and built a hotel on
your land.You settled living in a tent on the street, and I keep bombing
you out on a daily basis to show that there is no return to what was
once legally yours.

And then, I am offering you a peace but not a chance to return home and
regain possession of what was legally yours. Would you call that a
peace? Id call it: I'm offering not to keep killing you on a daoily
basis if you keep quiet and stop insisting on returning back home.

Would you expect the neighbours who were watching me do all of that to
you to then applaude my actions, and sing praises to them or would you
keep pressurising them to do something about me so I could change my
ways, and your house and land could be yours again?

By the same token, how do you make people stand up to its government or
a regime unless you out pressure on those people. Didn't the
International community even endorse bombing iraq, Lybia or Avganistan
to shift those in power because of the regimes in those countries? And
the consequences of those bombings (or the 'damages' as the US used to
refer to them) were a massive loss of human lives (children, women,
elderly, etc.). And it would be too shameful and disgraceful to even try
to compare those disasterous consequences to the possible UCU call for

And back to the occupation of the Palestinian land: would you really be
prepared to support a College that was built on the Palestinian land?
Perhaps one should carefully think looking at the scenario I gave you
above (about invading your property) before even attempting a response
to that question?

And back to speaking of democracy: we live in a democratic country (UK)
where things like that could not happen (i.e. I could not come to drive
you out of your house and your land). So, if you are still trying to
claim that Israel is a democratic country then please try to compare it
with other democratic societies in the world, and please name an example
of a democracy that is terrorising one people in exactly the same way
that Israel has been doing it. Perhaps Zimbabwe might be a democtratic
country after all?!

As I said earlier on, actions speak louder than words, and we are all
witnessing what the Israeli 'actions' are like on a daily basis. I don't
expect to change your views or those of any trying desparately to defend
what (evidently) cannot be defended (i,.e. Zionism and actions of
Israel) as long as we are witnessing mass murders and crimes against
humanity being committed on the Palestinians on a regular basis.
But I can tell you that I know a lot of Jews who the views of those of
us who are in favour of the call for boycott as a way of putting a
political pressure of the Israeli government. They are trying to
distance themselves from such a disasterous politics of Israel that is
most certainly likely to leave a bloody stain in the history of the
people who themselves suffered so much in WWII.

Anonymous said...

It seems that again members are rushing to condemn what they disagree with as 'foolish', as if saying so also makes it so. Israel is not, and has never been, a democracy. It is a Jewish Democracy, as it indeed calls itself, and as such it is a democracy for Jews, not Palestinians, who would not dream of calling it a democracy, even if they may agree with you that for Jews, it is a more democratic society than say Saudi Arabia is for its citizens. Would you call Britain a democracy if Jews were treated here like Palestinians are
treated in Israel? I think not.

Some Israelis and Jews seem to forget this little detail - a Jewish Democracy is not a democracy, as freedom and rights are not, and should not be, divisible. You may of course call me foolish (or worse) on reading this. I do not think you foolish for saying Israel is a democracy, even though I obviously disagree with you. Just because you disagree with me, does not make you foolish, evil or anti-semitic...
Haim Bresheeth

Anonymous said...

Israel is obviously a formally democratic country, in that all of its citizens can vote etc. But as not all of its citizens have the same rights, then that begins to dilute its democratic claims. A state that was built on ethnic cleansing, and which continues to carry out the same is not a
'normal' democratic country, just as the twin ghastly regimes of Milosevic and Tudjman were not, even though those two evil demagogues continued to win relatively free elections.

Anyone who thinks Israel is a 'normal' as opposed to a 'formal' democratic country should read Johann Hari's column in the Independent today; no true
democracy would treat a minority with such contempt. I have no fixed view on whether there should be a one or two state solution, sometimes there are facts which are intractable, whatever the injustices which caused them, and
we should move on to a new solution which is as just as possible. I see no prospect of this in the current punitive, illegal and absolutist Israeli policies.

Brian Collier (Bradford College)

Anonymous said...

Unofrtunalye, not only would you not be able to convince me but I am sure nobody else witnessing crimes commited on the Palestinians on a daily basis would go along with words. You would most certainly agree that in life words do apeak louder than actions. And until people see peace and Palestinians having their land given back to me, and refugees allowed back home I don't think that there is a change for peace.

It is indentical to my 'hypothetical' scenario that I gave you (about me coming to your home, driving you out, and building a hotel where your house was, etc.). Would you want to be in peace with me if I told you that you could never get back your land or return even to put your tent up in what used to be your garden?

In your response you are saying what happened to Jews post 1948 in the Arab countries. Not that I would justify such actions or support them, but why did it not happen before 1948? Didn't Arabs and Jews live together in peace? What has brought the post-1948 actions in the Arab world on? I believe that violence brings more violence, and it was the violence that started it. And once you get into a vicious circle of violence it is very difficult to break it.

As to your saying 'any Palestinian born outside of Israel since 1948(ie anybody under the age
of 60) are citizens of the Palestinian territories' I don't see how it can be acceptable. Why were they born there? Would not they have been born in what used to be their fathers' and grandfathers' land if those had not been driven out of their homes? Also, if my parents came from a different country and I was born here, should I not be entitled to a dual nationality? So, by the same token those children born outside what used to be their homeland should be given citizenship of the land where they were born. Or, better to say their fathers and grandfathers should be allowed back to what was legally and rightfully theirs before they were driven out of there.

One more point to add to the issue of peace. I don't think that it is fair for either Israel or the US to try to impose any kind of peace on Palestinians until they are military as strong as Israel is. I trust that negotiations should be on an even keel, as if one side is considerably weaker (as is the case with Palestinians) than they could be forced to accept any kind of peace for the sake of saving their bare lives. The other way of looking at things (and the one I'd sttrongly favour) is to disarm the Israeli army and then bring both sides to the negotiating talbe. The first step towards any peace being 'safe return of Palestinian refugees' to what was rightfyully and legally theirs before they were driven out of there.

Finally, what about a great number of Jews who feel the same way most of us do about the Israeli politics and what it has been doing to Palestinians?
May I just mention two televised examples that I personally saw:

The first one was a programme last week (BBC1) called 'Alliyah" A Journey Home' about Jews who were born and raised in different parts of the world and then decided to go and live in Israel (whose houses and are they beeing given we won't even question, as we know the answer to that). There was an English teacher, a lady in her 50's who was born here, and raised as a Zionist. Once she went there she was disillusioned with the idea of Zionism having seen the way the Arabs living in Israel were treated. She was also deeply disturbed with what she'd seen that she decided to leave Israel, and move to the Arab tetrritory. She moved to an Arab town where she is the only Jew living among 25,000 Arabs, and has been living happily since she got there.She said she'd not go back to Israel, and now considers herself to be a cizitin of Middle East.

Another example was that of a London Rabb (personally watched it on TV some year or so ago)i, a very respectful elerly gentleman who was openly voicing his views on the official politics of Israel and was openly calling members of his community to boycott all Israeli products and shops! That coming from a Rabbi (not a calll for boycott from UCU), you must admit is very strong.

As to your saying:
'How about a motion for UCU Congress which calls on UCU members to question Zimbabwe, Chinese and Sudanese academics with a view to boycotting them and their institutions if they do not immediately condemn their Governments human rights policies and practices?'

I am all for it. But as we need to begin somewhere, and the situation with Palestinians has been going on for a long time the UCU call for boycott there is a good start for us, and, I believe is to pave the way for more examples to follow to include the issues of Zimbabwe, and China Sudan.

Best wishes

The Contentious Centrist said...

I'm posting this article by Ben Dror Yemini, answering the several lies and myths propagated by commenters in this thread. I'm posting it for the sake of those whose mind is as yet not littered to full capacity by the kinds of drivel which passes for facts, history and ethical argumentation in comments left here:

"Oh, the feast of Jewish liberty, which we must always fight to preserve. Every generation witnesses new efforts striving to deny us this freedom, whether Jewish freedom in the Diaspora or in Israel. Nowadays, a strange coalition has emerged, of Islamists, skinheads and liberal academics, galvanized by the enlightened Chomsky and the benighted Ahmadinejad.

The fight against Israel's freedom is creeping to the mainstream. The threat, posturing as liberal, is more dangerous than the dark threat. It penetrated even the Daily Kos, a Democratic Party stronghold. Ahmadinejad can draw upon this site as a resource for justifications to wipe out the Zionist Entity. It is so important, in fact, that Israel's Foreign Office invited one of its editors to visit Israel.

In one of the Kos's more recent articles, a point-by-point indictment against Israel was presented. Here is my response to the some of more temperate criticism which is worth rebutting. I did not bother with the more virulent type.

1. Israeli Occupation

Israel is the cause of one of the longest occupations, controlling the life of over 2 million Palestinians.

Not quite. There are longer occupations, such as China in Tibet and Russia in Chechnya. But more importantly it is imperative to restore the correct chronology of events. War was declared upon Israel in response to which Israel waged a defensive war. The occupation was thrust upon Israel. It is a result, not a cause. Israel has already divested itself of most of this occupation: through mutual agreement with the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords and more recently through its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

2. Nuclear Israel

Israel is the only country in the region that has internationally unsupervised nuclear weapons

It is unclear what justification exists for Britain or France to possess nuclear weapons. Neither of them is under any threat of obliteration. Such a threat, however, does loom over Israel. On the day that some regional leaders will suspect that Israel has no nuclear capabilities, Israel will "be wiped off the map of the world".

Devotees of such leaders extol the virtues of annihilating the Jews. Israel is permitted to give credence to these openly declarative statements, especially considering the fact that Muslims have massacred more than 10 million Muslims since Israel was established. This is the justification for Israel's nuclear defensive capabilities.

3. Gaza is a Concentration Camp, overseen by Israel

Nonsense and lies. Tens of millions human beings in Africa live under much worse conditions, subjected to famine, disease, and wars. Israel quit Gaza. In response, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah continued to lob Qassams at Israel.

Israel is no longer in Gaza, nor does it want to control Gaza. Israel continues to provide fuel, electric power and humanitarian assistance to Gazans. Yet Gaza retaliates by sending Qassams into Israel. These missiles are not motivated by a desire for peace or to put an end to the occupation, which no longer exists. The declared purpose is the liquidation of the state of Israel. How exactly would American Democrats react to such consistent attacks targeting kindergartens and hospitals by an organization boasting of a racist or anti-Semitic platform, explicitly declaring its desire to annihilate the United States?

4. Israel practices Apartheid in the west Bank.

When a tidal wave of suicide terrorists threatens a civilian population, Israel has to resort to disagreeable measures. Not all means are justified but it is highly doubtful that any other democratic country would employ any less severe measures.

5. Israel does not accept the rights of refugees, by refusing to accept the right of return of two million Palestinians.

Utter nonsense. Over 40 million people have undergone the experience of population exchange, mostly as a result of wars. There is not one historical precedent that acknowledges a right of return. It is a Palestinian invention. As Palestinians themselves keep admitting, this is their trump card for the destruction of Israel.

True, 650,000 Arabs left or were forced to leave, the Jewish state, after they had declared a war of annihilation upon the newly-born State it. 850,000 Jews left or were forced to leave Arab countries and arrived in Israel, following that same attempted war of annihilation. Of all the refugees at large in the world, only the Palestinians were perpetuated as such. A special UN agency was created, just for them (UNRWA). Only they have been kept on, like an ever- bleeding wound, because Arab countries denied them rights.

6. Israel is founded upon a racist ideology

Israel maintains a regime grounded in the failed Zionist ideology, which is based on racist nationalism that gives rights to only one ethnic or religious group.

Israel is indeed a nation-state, like the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary and many others. Zionism started as a Jewish liberation movement. It is part and parcel of the natural right for self-determination. It is no different from any other right of self-determination, be it Albanian, Romanian or Slovenian.

This charge in and of itself, when it is tossed at Jews and none other but Jews, is inherently racist. The implicit and explicit premise of such an accusation is that Palestinians have national rights but Jews do not. The negation of such rights was the staple of antisemites. It is a tragedy of historical magnitude that "progressive forces" today have come to own this negation of Jewish rights.

As for discrimination: Israel has a large Arab minority. Minorities like this one can be found any place in Europe. Israeli Arabs enjoy a condition of freedom that is much better than Muslims enjoy in neighbouring countries. As a minority they are in a much better position than any other minority in Europe. This is fact, not opinion.

The social discrimination is largely due to the Arab minority's choice to discriminate against their women. Those who have a preference for oppressing members of their society cannot complain when they cannot live according to first world standards. In this respect the Arab minority is no different from the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel. They, like the Haredim, prefer to live by a patriarchal scheme.

A breakthrough will occur when the forces of progress in the world will cease to coddle Muslims as if they were simple-minded children who should be allowed to maintain their inner structures of oppression. The forces of darkness and the sad condition of Muslims continue as long as Israel, and other factors, are blamed.

7. Palestinians are the victims of violence

Israelis claim they suffer from terrorism, but Palestinians are the victims, in a 13:1 ratio.

Lies and demagoguery. Upwards of 1,500 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks, originating from the occupied territories. About 6,000 Palestinians were killed during the 40 years of occupation, most of whom were terrorists. This is the smallest death toll in histories of conflicts around the world. Much less than the 20,000 Syrians murdered by Assad in 1982, much less than the 10,000 Palestinians killed in 1971 during Black September in Jordan, much less than the number of Kurds killed by Turkey, much less than the 8,000 killed in Srebrenitza at the heart of Europe. Never mind Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan or Iraq where Muslims have massacred and are still killing, masses of other Muslims.

8. Israel invaded Lebanon twice.

Twice Israel invaded Lebanon and continues to infringe upon Lebanon's aerial space.

Just like that Israel invaded Lebanon, for no reason whatsoever? Lebanon turned into a launching base for hostile assaults against Israel. First it was the Fatah that had turned Lebanon into a protectorate. Now it is Hezbollah, an Iranian terrorist organization which openly declares its goal of destroying Israel, that amasses enough weapons to threaten a country the size of California, and then attacks Israel even though there is no Israeli presence nor Israeli provocation in Lebanon.

Antisemites are not distracted by facts

It is possible and permissible to criticize Israel but key facts must be acknowledged, for example, that Israel recognizes the right of Palestinians for self-determination and statehood. The Arabs, and Palestinians, however, have unfailingly rejected every proposal. They said no to the Peel commission, no to the UN partition plan, no to Barrack's proposals at Camp David, no to Clinton's bridging proposals that offered them a state and a solution for the refugee problem.

Israel even supports the Saudi peace plan, with one caveat: that Palestinian Right of return will take place within the context of a Palestinian state and not for the purpose of liquidating Israel. Whoever supports RoR perpetuates the conflict in general and Palestinian suffering in particular.

These facts have not distracted those who fell into the anti-Israel obsession, just as facts have never dented the will of those who caught the antisemitic bug. But there are those who are open to facts, and those who might be disabused of their antisemitic obsessions. It is therefore worthwhile to re-iterate this simple fact: That the people of Israel is also deserving of independence and freedom, As deserving as any other group that demands self-determination. As deserving as Palestinian claims for self-determination, but alongside Israel, not in place of Israel."


The Contentious Centrist said...

The forgotten refugees: Why are they forgotten? What made them disappear from the consciousness of the world, in the way the Palestinian refugees have not?


Anonymous said...

'So, we're going to lose a lot of members, we're probably going to breach anti-discrimination law, and we're doing this in the face of opposition from a majority of the membership.'

Could you please explain since when could putting pressure on one people as a non-violent way of making them stand up to their government and get them to change their ways be considered as anti-semitism or racism? The focus of the discussion and all criticisms are on actions of a government NOT the people. And let's keep it like that please.

Also, by the same token then we could call the US politics that had no business being in Iraq or Afghanistan let alone murdering their people as racist and discriminating, as there is no worse racism than murdering people, and denying them the right to life and existence. What's more, the US did it without the UN endorsement or consent, but the UN member states didn't see it as a reason for leaving the UN nor have we seen a single member state leaving.

We live in democracy and are entitled to different views and opinions. But some might find that a downside to that might be that the majority vote wins, and that not always would we be the winners but could get out-voted, and that the results have to be accepted and respected. So, if the majority of UCU is pro-boycott then those against it might not agree with it but should respect and accept the majority win as a regular outcome.
The fact that the majority do not share one's views should not be seen as the reason for leaving the Union.

If someone has voted for a certain political party as they share their political programme (and views) but it lost in the local elections it would not be a good enough reason to move out of that town, would it?


Anonymous said...

I am frankly tired from this endless discussion, and find myself to keep repeating some of the points, so would not have even come in this time. However, when something I wrote is twisted than I do need to clarify my position.

'Jenna speaks as if a boycott would be a boycott of a country. It would not be.'

I am quite surprised that my post has been mis-read/misinterpreted. I did not even think or say anything like that although I might have made a comparison of a micro-plan action (ie. boycott) to a macro-plan one (ie.. the military action of the US on some countries). Let me please be clear once again as to why I used that comparison:

I used the comparison purely to point out that the possible UCU call for boycott cannot be the reason for someone to leave the Union. Then, I went on to say that there were far bigger things happening in the world which did not make any UN member state leave the UN (although they didn't agree with or endorse what the US did).

' A boycott would be a boycott of the people/workers of a country which they had not called for and which would do nothing constructive to build peace.'

So, are you saying that putting a political pressure on a people to try to make them put pressure on their government isn't likely to do anything. If that was so it then appears that you didn't believe in sanctions. So, could oudl you then please tell us what it is you did against the sanctions the US imposed on Iraq as it was the civilians that were suffering? Were the new-born children guilty of the crimes of Saddam and his regime?
Putting a political pressure on those who could raise their voice against the Israeli Government (and its murderous politics) is a way of saying that we expect from them to refuse to be part of the establishment and raise their voice against it. And that's a difference the boycott could bring about.
I as a human being would be ashamed if we stood and kept watching while one murderous and racist politics has been trying to wipe off one entire nation from the face of the earth without trying to use non-violent political means to oppose such actions.

'In addition, it would be an imperialist action where we would determine how well people in another country meet our standards.'

Putting a political pressure by using peaceful means cannot be seen as imperialism. It is just what it is: a political pressure.
Back to one of my emails, I did mention an example of a London Rabbi that I watched on TV quite awhile ago calling members of his community to boycott all Israeli products and shops.
Are you trying to say that you consider the Rabbi to be an imperialist or a racist, or discriminating against his own people? Or would you not simply agree that by doing so he is openly showing a disagreement with the Israeli government and its politics?

As for the imperialism, we are witnessing, on a daily basis the US imperialism while it is trying to order around countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and their people, and impose its standards as the only right ones. And it's using brutal physical force to enforce their 'rules and criteria'. It has invaded countries and is terrorising their people. In Iraq the US has killed more people than Saddam's regime did. And that is the real imperialism.
Do you go along with it? And if not, what have you done to oppose the US imperialism?

'The first is that every Israeli deserves being boycotted because they are Israelis. They deserve to be boycotted because they have no place in that geographic region.'

Again, another mis-interpretation or an attempt to shift the focus from actions to people. We are opposing ACTIONS of the Israeli government, and as a way of expressing it we are putting pressure on people there to change its government's murderous politics, and not to be parts of its establishment. How do you make that happen without putting a political pressure? Got a better idea that would work and make a difference?

we have already established numerous times that not all the Jewish people think the same, and many are opposing the Israeli government. So, the boycott has nothing to do with people, but ACTIONS of the Israeli government.

As to the people in that region, the only people that the world has been seeing as having no place in that geographic region, and being denied their livelihoods, and existence are the Palestinians. One could try to deny it but no matter how hard one could keep trying the facts (and actions) speak luder than any words could.

'Jenna makes an interesting point in stating "if the majority of UCU is pro-boycott then those against it might not agree with it but should respect and accept the majority win as a regular outcome". I agree and I think Jon will as well. This is why we launched Members For A ballot last year. Neither Jon nor I were scared to have the popularity of a boycott tested in a poll- thus, Jenna, would you like several other pro-boycott people commit publically to campaign for a ballot on the issue to see what the true democratic wishes of the UCU membership is?'

I think that the ballot has been tried and tested using this list in the past few weeks, with the vast majority of us voting in favour. This is purely based on the number of different people speaking out against the Israeli government, and in favour of boycott, as opposed to all the same few trying to be vocal in defending what cannot be defended (i.e. the official politics of Israel).


Anonymous said...

My responses to Jon's three concerns are mostly very close to his anticipated objections.

(1) I'm not that worried about resignations, because I just don't
think there's any real justification for such resignations. I think it's
unfounded and unreasonable to accuse the Union of racism, anti-Semitism, bullying or harassment, so what's the issue here? Why resign from the
Union? This doesn't make any sense to me. As Union members we're
entitled to hold diverse political opinions, to air them in public, to
pass motions in branches and in Congress democratically, to adopt
policies through our established procedures on particular issues, so I don't see a resigning issue here.

(2) I'm not worried about the Race Relations Act of 1976 because the
key legal term in that legislation is 'reasonable'. Persons have to have reasonable grounds for lodging a claim of discrimination. So far, no such reasonable grounds exist, and none have been adduced.

(3) Tricky to say what the mass membership really want. I don't think we should jump the gun here. Interesting that some of our Zionist colleagues seem to see themselves as an embattled minority. My own feeling is that there should be a debate which can be won on its merits. I also think this debate hasn't been properly aired, partly because of those who would silence it through the unjustified and cheapened charge
of anti-Semitism.

The boycott debate is important, and the boycott a possible way to
pressure the Israeli government effectively (amid a dearth of other
effective courses of action) on settlements, occupation, and the
destruction of Palestine and its academy.

John Chalcraft
London School of Economics

Anonymous said...

It should be noted how any comment that advocates for Israel and her legitimacy and decency (thereby nullifying the need for boycott) is ignored by the learned participants of this bogus "discussion". I can only deduce that it is ignored because advocating for Israel and setting the historical and moral records straight on some of the viler accusations circulating here is outside the permissible parameters of thought dictated by the new fascist ideology of the Indecet Left.

Persuasion is out of the question. These people are only impressed by the extreme violence of terrorism. The more violent the actions, the more genocidal the rhetoric, the more superior is the virtue of the oppressed.

Frightening stuff.

Anonymous said...

'The boycott was first debated at Imperial at an Extraordinary General Meeting in May 2005 following the passing of a boycott motion at the 2005 AUT Congress.'

What facts were they presented with? Was the purpose of the boycott and its expected effects explained properly? Or was the discussion led in the way that was suggesting that the boycott was not not a good idea (in the way that some have been trying to argue here)?

'However by trying to force UCU into adopting a policy that is opposed by the majority of the membership, the credibility of the union is being continuously eroded and long term damage is being inflicted on UCU.'

So, are you proposing that we should sit and quietly watch while a genocidal politics of Israel keeps murdering innocent people in an attempt to wipe off an entire nation of the face of the earth?
Is that honestly what you want to keep happening?

Or perhaps you have a different suggestion as to what we could do to put pressure on the Israeli govermnment that would really work? If you do, could you please share it with us.


Anonymous said...

'Academics are highly trained individuals in the area of investigation. Any academic worth their salt would be able to generate enough information to come to a conclusion. Similarly AR staff are highly skilled professionals. While presenting information is important they do not need to be spoon fed arguments or information.'

We also know that the outcome may depend on what the sources of information are, who presented them and the way they were presented (the arguments put forward. we also know that the information could be used in a manipulative way. Didn't the media manipulate masses in some countries (to include a number of academics, doctors, etc.) into wars?

'Can you please explain in concrete terms how this proposal would save one life? Or is it a case of any gesture is better than none? s.'

So are you saying that no political pressure is going to work?
Perhaps, we should then explore the life-saving alternatives. Why then not disarm Israel to bring it to an even keel with Palestinians? That would stop the killings, and bring both sides to the negotiating table. Perhaps we should then campaign for disarmament as a solution to save the lives there?

'Believe me, in a conflict situation there is nothing worse than gesture politics.'

I can only say that I have a personal experience of a conflict (which I believe you don't) , and can speak from my experience. And I can tell you that the political pressure does work. That's why I believe that the boycott would work.


Anonymous said...

Jenna is getting all warmed up and confused. The genocidal politics (explicit ideology + practices to match) are carried out by Hamas, a terrorist organization ELECTED by Palestinians to carry out EXACTLY this kind of ideology.

In the meantime, you should read this. It is necessary for you to lock step with Hamas historical understandings or else you might miss the chance to re-charge those hatred batteries which seem to keep you so active here:

"Jewish leaders planned the Holocaust to kill "disabled and handicapped" Jews to avoid having to care for them, according to a Hamas TV educational program. As much of the world prepared to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Hamas TV presented its latest sinister twist on Holocaust denial.

The Hamas TV educational program, broadcast last week, taught that the murder of Jews in the Holocaust was a Zionist plot with two goals:

1- To eliminate "disabled and handicapped" Jews by sending them to death camps, so they would not be a burden on the future state of Israel.

2- At the same time, the Holocaust served to make "the Jews seem persecuted" so they could "benefit from international sympathy."

Amin Dabur, head of the Palestinian "Center for Strategic Research" explained that "the Israeli Holocaust - the whole thing was a joke, and part of the perfect show that [Zionist leader and future Israeli prime minister] Ben Gurion put on." The "young energetic and able" were sent to Israel, while the handicapped were sent "so there would be a Holocaust."...


Anonymous said...

The USA doesn't routinely deny people education or even getting to their university as Israel does to the Palestinians, the USA doesn't build Universities on other people's land as Israel does. This is why it should concern us as academics.

What the USA does do, however is fund and arm to the teeth Israel so
despite being a tiny country Israel has the 4th largest army in the
world, which is why Israel is unique in the world compared with other bad regimes or governments that commit human rights abuses.

Israel would collapse without US support, which it gets to act as US
Imperialism's watchdog in the Middle East (all those Nuclear Weapons aimed at various Arab capitals that of course Israel denies it has), and is the ONLY country in the world able to buy arms directly from US arms manufacturers, which is good for them as, as we saw in the
aggressive attack on Lebanon last year they get some free testing to
see how effective they are.

Noel Douglas

Anonymous said...

Brilliant points.

May I just add some information re the US support to Israel:

- Total US aid to Israel is approximately one-third of the American foreign-aid budget, even though Israel comprises just 0.001% of the world's population.
- Direct US aid for each Israeli citizen in 2001 (per capita annual income of Israel = $16,710) was over $500, while direct US aid for each Ethiopian citizen in 2001 (per capita annual income of Ethiopia = $100) was around $0.45

So, as I said earlier on, rather than a call for boycott perhaps we should start campaigning for disarmament of Israel to bring it to an even keel with Palestine, and then bring both parties to the negotiating table.


Anonymous said...

1. UCU members have a right to know that academic co-operation with
Ariel College, built as it is in the occupied territories and operating in contravention of UN resolutions, may put them at risk of acting illegally, i.e. against international law. This seems to me to be a legitimate concern for the union and its members.

2. What is currently on Conference Agenda is the Grey Listing of Ariel. This is not the same as the proposal put to the AUT ... We have been asked by the Palestinian Union that represents academics in the occupied territories to grey list an institution in their territory. Therefore, the argument from an international trade union perspective should be 'Why not', not 'Why'.

3. The UCU boycott discussion does have a serious impact on the Israel
government. The motion regarding it, which was passed at the last but one AUT congress, was an item of discussion for the Israel cabinet and the subsequent special congress attracted the serious attention of the Israel Embassy. The Israel government are very sensitive to this because they see themselves as a European bridgehead in the Middle East. Israel academic links with Europe are very important to Israel and hence are a
pressure point. As someone else has pointed out on the list, the only
actions worth considering are effective ones and I suggest that what will be proposed at our May conference is indeed capable of being effective.

4. On a related matter, I would be in favour of an international boycott of both Britain and the US for our governments' illegal actions in Iraq and Afghanistan if I thought there was a chance of getting such a boycott to bite. It seems to me that anything that stopped the bloodshed and barbarity our governments have made a daily matter of course, brutalising our society, would be worth doing. However, in the UK, the best course of action is to support Stop the War and perhaps, as a result, we have a chance to prevent war against Iran.

Malcolm Povey

The Contentious Centrist said...

If only closed minds came with closed mouths.

Anonymous said...


It is really very simple - Just remember those ten helpful rules, and you will not go wrong:

1. As long as there are some other criminals around, no criminal can be brought to book.
2. Because life is so unjust, there is no point to justice.
3. As people are suffering everywhere, we should do nothing until it all stops by itself.
4. Ant time you wish to do anything about one conflict, just think about all the other and you will immediately understand that the best way is to do nothing.
5. Those who do nothing, do nothing wrong!
6. The only moral position to take is turn your back on suffering.
Never care about the other, the other will take care of itself.
7. The only way to cohesion in the union, if we all bothered about our own pay, and not about any others - either in UCU, in the UK, or in the
uncivilised world.
8. Discussing action is almost as bad as doing it - it does give people ideas, which is wrong, obviously.
9. Discussing Israel is obviously anti-Semitic, as you should not be
discussing it unless you at the same time, discuss every other country.
10. Never take action against real anti-Semites! Zionism needs them.

So, what could be simpler? Follow the yellow brick road...

Haim Bresheeth

Anonymous said...

Just picked up on some of your points:

'while questioning Jon's concerns about the boycott bringing about
resignations and discrimination for which there is so much more evidence.'

SUCH AS? Who, what, where, when? Hard evidence, quotes, names, where does each such claim fit with the related law?

'As a mechanism for change this boycott is a non-starter. In fact the only reassurance Samia El Boteh and Lisa Taraki (speaking at SOAS last night) could muster is that it upsets the Israeli government and
gratifies Palestinians, which I found *glib* considering the
magnitude of what they are asking us to do. I would have hoped that if we were going to adopt something as important as boycott there would be, after all these years of boycott, some evidence of effectiveness or some
discussion of the mechanism they show such confidence in. Apparently not - what we do have is plenty of evidence of discriminatory boycotts of *individuals* like Schlesinger, Toury, Darawshe, Yiftachel, and a prospective student of Andrew Wilkie. And in the absence of any evidence of effectiveness...'

First, I'd like to refer you to email from Malcolm Povey of yesterday where it says:

'The UCU boycott discussion does have a serious impact on the Israel
government. The motion regarding it, which was passed at the last but one AUT congress, was an item of discussion for the Israel cabinet and the subsequent special congress attracted the serious attention of the Israel Embassy. The Israel government are very sensitive to this because
they see themselves as a European bridgehead in the Middle East. Israel academic links with Europe are very important to Israel and hence are a pressure point.'

So, if the boycott isn't going to work why is it such an important topic to be discussed in the Israeli cabinet?

Next I would like to say: trust me, I know the situations where it worked. I know of the situations where economic sanctions worked too. I have a personal experience of a conflict (I suppose you don't) where it worked.

'we here in UCU are *still* supposed to swallow the notion of complicity of academics, the relegation of academic freedom, and the normalisation of disrimination by nationality and indirectly, ethnicity and religion? Makes no sense to me.'

I still don't agree, and see this as yet another (one of many so far) exercise to shift the focus of our discussion from the real issue (the terrorist and genocidal politics of Israel) to claims about racism and anti-semitism. Isn't the worst form of racism the killings and crimes against humanity that are being committed on Palestinians by the Israeli government on a daily basis? Isn't the fact that the Palestinian children have no life, or future, let alone proper education, and have to cross check-points only to go to school also an act of racism? An entire nation is being denied the right to existance.

And if you still claim to be right, than please answer me how come that there are Jews that are opposing such a politics and have the same views as the pro-boycotters do?
I mentioned watching a London Rabbin (and elderly gentleman) on TV some time ago who was opposing the Israeli politics and was calling (on TV) members of his community to boycott all the Israeli products and shops! So, from what you are seriously saying that the Rabbin is a racist and an anti-semitist?

Let's go back to the real issue: the genocide on palestinians. So, as the killing is only against people, and the world is watching Palestinians being killed in double figures every day I have a different suggestion. If you believe that the boycott isn't going to work how about us campaigning to disarm Israel? That would most certainly work and would stop the killings. And it would most certainly bring an end to the genocidal politicis of the Israeli government.

Do you honestly believe that a country should be built on ethnic cleansing? And it is something that the world should be strongly opposing. Are you prepared to campaign prepared for the safe return of all the Palestinian refugees to what was rightfully and legally theirs?

How would you feel if someone came to your house, drove you out of there, made you live in a tent away from what was once your house, built a hotel there and moved in their reliatives from all over the world? And then, if you wanted to go to work you'd have to cross their check-points, and would be bombed on a daily basis to be reminded that there was no way or no chance you'd ever go back to what was once yours?

'Thankfully, Palestinians are not, as you suggest, disappearing in the eyes of the world.'

Are they not? Then what is it that the world has been watching on a daily basis on TV, reading in the papers? Or is the entire world dillusional?

Before you start talking about anything else, and trying to shift the focus back on claims of racism and anti-semitism please answer my questions.


Anonymous said...

'Jenna Delich has referred (many times) to an alleged genocide of Palestinians by Israel.'

I am not the only one. It is not alleged. And also, I like to call things their real names (which is in line with its definition, as well).

'The number of Palestinian refugees in 1948 was around 750,000.'

As you said, it was clearly the figure for 1948 ONLY, and makes a shocking and shameful statistics for one year only.

'The Palestinian population currently in the West Bank and Gaza is around 4 million (with an average life expectancy of around 71 years - compare Rwanda, around 45 years, and Zimbabwe, around 34 years).'

As the Palestinians kept fleeing their homes (post -1948) the number of refugees kept going up.
And one general remark: the world population has been expanding in general, but it seems from what you are saying that the Palestinian nations should have shrunk.

'The claim that Israel has committed or is committing genocide is a vilifying lie.'

It is not. By definition:

'Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group' (Wikipedia)


'"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."[UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2).

The key word in the definition is 'any'. And the world has been witnessing Israel doing most of those acts on the Palesinians over decades. So, what would you call the murderous and destructive acts of the Israeli government on the Palestinian nation?
Or perhaps we should have double-standards that would allow for use of a different term for the sufferings of the Palestinians?

'There is a long and utterly dishonourable tradition in Europe of not only exaggerating Jewish crimes, but of lying about them on an apocalyptic scale. It is appalling to see that tradition
being perpetuated under UCU auspices.'

I can't see that anybody has been doing that here, but some are certainly trying to make such insinuations as soon as someone ventures out to criticise the Israeli government.

Now, what about attempts to undermine the sufferings of the Palestinians? Or denying crimes that are committed on them on a daily basis? Double-figure deaths on a daily basis (babies, children, women, elderly)?

On the human level I am appaled that there are those who are proposing that we sit and watch such a horrendous loss of human lives on a daily basis and do nothing? Aren't you?

Before you try to write about something else in your response to me I'd appreciate if you would answer my questions.


Anonymous said...

If I may summarise my current understanding of the recent List activity:

1. Some people in UCU want us to boycott Israeli academics,


2. To do so as a Union would be illegal (contravene RRA etc)


3. If 2 above is indeed the case (someone Up Top please confirm
Jon's assertion), then there IS NO POINT in pursuing this debate

4. It follows that union members only practicable course of
action is to follow their conscience* in boycotting any aspect of Israeli activity that they may choose, or join some organisation whose mandate includes active opposition to Israeli activity, or lobby such organisations.


5. However well-intentioned, passionate, committed the
contributors to the List may be, to believe that Israeli government
attitudes will be altered one jot by UCU's opinion's/boycotts etc,
when it has refused to budge an inch after decades of UN and other
pressure, is to live in cloud cuckoo land. Maybe cloud cuckoos have a list that those who wish to persist with this thread can join.


6. Go and get on with something more constructive.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your logical and reasoned comment. I don't know how you can be so patient!

I think you are suggesting that those activists for whom this issue is of such paramount importance should join/work through a political party. The rest of us (who have already had this thought) can then use the activists' list more productively. This is a revolutionary idea, but it's a good one.

To those who still insist on polluting the UCU activists' list, may I say: "You are an army of dreamers and that's what makes you unreasonable"

John Fry

Anonymous said...

I have a great deal of sympathy with Richard's point of view. To take each of his points in turn:

1. Although the activist list has been dominated by a VERY SMALL
number of people (see PS at end of my message) with deeply and
sincerely held views about whether or not to boycott Israeli
academics, in fact no such proposal has EVER been made at any UCU
Congress or National Executive meeting, nor are there ANY motions on the order paper for this year's Congress to do so.

2. The legal advice received (from 3 different eminent lawyers) by the
union was that it was outside the aims and objects of the union and
therefore probably unlawful (actually an unusually strong commitment from lawyers!) for the union to ballot for or actually call a boycott, or instruct members to participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The advice was clear that it was NOT unlawful to discuss whatever we wanted to discuss, including the situation in Palestine, nor was it unlawful per se to criticise the actions of the Israeli, or
any other, government. I guess we can all think of some kinds of
criticism of Israel that would amount to anti-semitism (and that
should be unlawful and is certainly to be deprecated), but that does
not make ALL criticism of Israel anti-semitic.

3. Given 1 and 2, I see no problem with people debating whatever they
want to debate on the list - I just wish they would do it with (in
some cases) more tolerance and respect. Contributors should also note that making 5 contributions is NOT 5 times as effective as making one contribution, and arguing passionately for and against a proposal that has never been formally made by UCU is of limited interest.

4. I agree that members should "follow their conscience in boycotting any aspect of Israeli activity that they may choose". Indeed, that is precisely what motion (currently labelled) SFC10 (see page 14 of
www.ucu.org.uk/circ/rtf/ucu94.rtf) calls for.

5. Here I diverge from Richard's line of thought. It would be a much
impoverished world if people only ever did what they thought would
have an effect rather than what they believed in. This has to be
balanced with the fact that in the real world we can't all support all
of the causes we would ideally like to do.

6. Which leads nicely to this point. As a union, we need to make
choices about where we focus our resources. There are far too many
"good causes" for us to spend our limited resources on all of them
(even if we could agree what they were!). I believe strongly that
trade unionists SHOULD have an international perspective but we should spend only a proportionate amount of time, effort and money on that aspect of our work. Within both the National Executive Committee and Strategy & Finance Committee we spend the vast majority of our time on what might
be called "bread and butter issues". It is only the activists list where the question of boycotting Israeli academics totally dominates discussion ...

As for the list, if you are tired of the "Israeli boycott" issue, you
can filter those messages out and concentrate your energies on the
other, often very interesting and useful contributions.

PS A quick estimate of the posts since 4th March reveals:
total number of posts = 468;

approx number on Israel/Palestine (I/P) = 306 (65% of total); between them, the top 7 posters on each "side" of the debate accounted
for 209 posts (ie just 14 members accounted for 68% of I/P posts and
45% of total posts)


Anonymous said...

From Normblog:

"Amongst the questions she puts there is whether saying that Israel is committing genocide can be regarded as anti-Semitic. It's a very good question. Or, to put that slightly differently, it's the simple truth.

Here's an angle on it that may not be immediately obvious. Other than Holocaust-deniers themselves there are few who would doubt that Holocaust-denial is a form of anti-Semitism. One can reach this conclusion by different routes: for example, highlighting the attempt by proponents of the historical lie here to bury the memory of the calamity visited upon the Jews of Europe; or else focusing on the implication it carries of how bad the Jews must be to be willing to put about so gross an 'exaggeration' of their own suffering. Either way, no one other than those actually caught up in the lie can fail to see it as a hostile slander against the Jewish people.

Denying that the Jews were the victims of a genocide now has its counterpart in the allegation that the Jewish state is perpetrator of a genocide against another people. And this is not a case where the evidence is borderline. Just like Hocaust-denial, genocide-assertion as applied to Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians bears no relation to any serious historical evidence about the long conflict in the region. It is a blatant historical falsehood - the blood libel on a spectacular scale.

Genocide-assertion with reference to Israel should be seen henceforth as the twin of Holocaust-denial: a not very covert form of anti-Semitism that disgraces its proponents."


Anonymous said...

In 2004, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) called attention to the lack of a common definition of anti-Semitism. Consequently, a working definition was written collaboratively by a small group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs):

"Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel."


Anonymous said...


Isn't it about time you made what is being posted on this site more widely known?

Anonymous said...

What we have in Gaza and the West Bank definitely amounts to Policide
and/or Sociocide.

The destruction of the apparatus of governance (the mass arrests of
Palestinian elected representatives, targeted assassinations, the destruction of buildings necessary to administer the territories, etc) equates to Policide, a term first generally used by Steve Stern to describe Pinochet's obliteration of political institutions capable of
organising resistance in Chile. He suggests policide as a way to
characterise the Chilean case, defined as 'a systematic project to
destroy an entire way of doing and understanding politics and
governance' that 'includes systematic killing of specific targeted groups', together with other actions 'designed to generalize the terror'
and build 'a culture of fear and fragmentation'. The similarites with the occupied territories are compelling.

Sociocide is wider than policide and describes the attack not just on political institutions but the attack on all aspects of civil (and in the case of the occupied territories, economic) society. The attempt has been to destroy the ability of the inhabitants of the OT to regard themselves as a nation.

Whether we have seen genocide up to now is more debatable but the
blockade of Gaza and the destruction of any infrastructure to allow the distribution of food or medical supplies and the prevention of acutely ill people leaving Gaza to get life saving treatment looks incredibly
like genocide to me. I would describe Gaza as a ghetto except some list members would see that as too provocative. Claiming that Gaza is far too reminiscent of other occasions where populations have been walled up with insufficient fuel, food or the means of life is too much like critiquing the discourse of Jewish exceptionalism and thus being anti-semitic, but we must not let our disgust at past crimes blind us to current ones.

Mike Cushman

Anonymous said...

Jon attacks Mona Baker for her action in removing Miriam
Schlessinger and Gideon Toury from Editorial board of Translation
Studies. Looked at in isolation and outside of the context of the
Israeli forty year occupation of Palestine and endless collective
punishment of the Palestinians, it does not make sense; and indeed it
even looks spiteful. However looked at from the point of view of what
happens day in and day out of the Palestinians, it makes perfect sense.

Mona of course does speak for herself but on this occasion, I think she spoke for millions. She said 'what is happening in Palestine cannot go on' and her removal of the two Israeli academics articulated this very
well. It created a stink as it should. Mona took risks and I applaud her for this. She stuck her neck out and made a principled stand and had she not have done so we would never have been discussing Palestine now.

I do not think that some people understand the reasons for all this
debate. It is not about the details of this or that boycott action. In
spite of endless postings, it still is not getting through to some
people that what is happening to our colleagues in Palestine is not
acceptable. PALESTINE IS OCCUPIED! And I applaud Mona Baker for
bringing it all out in the open. Her action was not motivated by the
idea of inflicting hurt on those two Israeli academics. She was making a point that could not be made in any other way. Her intention was to take a stand in support of Palestine; and the action she took created a
public discussion that we would never have had had she not have done so. She opened up a debate about what is acceptable to us as civilised human beings who care deeply about Palestine.

So I repeat - I definitely support Mona. Now doubt I am opening up a
space for a whole battery of nutters to start writing to me or ringing me and leaving foul messages - which I am now getting used to - but that is why I support Mona and her action. If Israel pulled out of Palestine
and took down that obscene wall there would be no reason for to remove anyone from any Editorial board. Until that happens, I have no doubt that this will go on ...

Keith Hammond

Anonymous said...

I thought I shall share with you an experience, though not a particularly pleasant one, as it seems to point to a problem much discussed on the UCU activists list recently, namely anti-Semitism.
You may have seen the letters page in the Guardian yesterday, where 105 Jewish intellectuals of various fields of work have written, explaining why they will NOT be celebrating Israel's 60 birthday (link below). I was one of
the signatories to this letter.

As can be expected, I (and my signatory friends) have already received many mails on this topic, including much vile and especially loathsome threatening emails. Nothing new or unusual about this, unpleasant as it really is.

What I wanted to tell you is about the common line which this time seems to pull together the writers of those poorly-phrased, hate filled missives, in clear distinction to the past, at least in my own experience. It was indeed
the deep anti-semitism which pervades those many messages, all written by Jews...

One of them tells me that: "You have always been a kike, and will stay a kike. Nothing will save you from to be a kike (sic)". Grammar aside, this is a typical pronouncement, at least in the harvest which fell my way. The
writers seem to resent the fact that we are not "standing up" for our country, and one writer called me a "traitor kike" for not writing "good articles about Israel, instead of the kike shit you publish". Well, it all
made me think about the deep roots of this type of anti-Semitism within Zionism. Herzl, the father of political Zionism, published an important key article in Die Welt, the Zionist journal he has founded and edited just about a century ago, about the Jew and the Kike. In it, he uses all the AS
stereotyping which racist used against Jews, and says that actually this is the kike they are talking about, of course - the kike being the shameful, submissive Jew, who is trying in vein to achieve the impossible - integration into gentile society. The Jew, by which he means the Zionist, he tells us, is in contrast not bothering about integration, but about their
own identity and their own state and society.

Now what is important about the article is not the appropriation of the German equivalent of kike, but the fact that Herzl accepts the tenets of anti-Semitism, but claims that it is only certain types of Jews who are prone to the shortcomings identified by racists � the kikes. To see this
despicable tradition revived, and even the terminology adopted gave me a real shock. This is not simple nationalist disagreement with liberals and pacifists, but a internecine racist attack on Jews, because they are Jews of
a certain type.

If to write the lines we did, one has to be a kike, then I am today a proud kike!

Haim Bresheeth

The Contentious Centrist said...

"What we have in Gaza and the West Bank definitely amounts to Policide
and/or Sociocide."

That's funny. If the obscene accusation of genocide cannot be levelled at Israelis because it is construed as explicitly antisemitic and akin to Holocaust-denial, then new terms are invented, to circumvent that difficulty.

It won't do.

In the Nuremberg Trials, Translation played a crucial role in communication, due to the large variety of nations represented in the proceedings. Skilled and professional translators were employed to try and help the judges get as close to the truth as possible. In spite of this, when the Nazi Propaganda Minister Goering was questioned, he managed quite successfully to cast doubts as to the way certain terms, quoted from official Nazi documents, were translated from the German. In seeking to mitigate the damage done to his defense by those documents, he kept arguing that many quotes were mistranslated, and that the correct translation would account for a different story than the one unfolded during the trials.

When cross-examination turned to the persecution of the Jewish population, the prosecution presented as evidence a short letter from Goering to Heydrich in which "the final solution to the Jewish problem" was the main issue. Goering challenged the translation, claiming that the correct term should have stated "the total solution" to the Jewish problem, and not the "final solution" as it came to be known in contemporary parlance. Goering, fully aware of the heavily emotional charge that had accrued to the term "final solution”, wanted to lessen the burden by suggesting that another term be used instead. A euphemistic variation such as “the total solution” would have divested the concept of its immediate connotations, blunting the sharpness of the allusion and thus maybe softening its impact, to Goering's advantage in court.

It's kind of ironic that the boycotters resort to the same kind of linguistic sleight of hand as Goering came up with, when they try manipulate the historical tremendum that was the Holocaust into oblivion.

And true to form, these very same boycotters twist words and meanings into a pretzel when they attempt to allege that Palestinian Terrorism is not terrorism but legitimate resistance.

But what is terror, really?

André Glucksmann, the French philosopher, provides the clearest definition for what constitutes terrorism, in a recent essay:

"A better definition of terrorism is a deliberate attack by armed men on unarmed civilians. Terrorism is aggression against civilians as civilians, inevitably taken by surprise and defenseless. Whether the hostage-takers and killers of innocents are in uniform or not, or what kind of weapons they use—whether bombs or blades—does not change anything; neither does the fact that they may appeal to sublime ideals. The only thing that counts is the intention to wipe out random victims. The systematic resort to the car bomb, to suicide attacks, randomly killing as many passersby as possible, defines a specific style of engagement."

The Contentious Centrist said...

"Isn't it about time you made what is being posted on this site more widely known?"

I was posting here under the impression that these commenters were leaving their comments directly on this blog. I should have paid attention to so many anonymouses signing with their own names. I realize that it was someone lifting these comments from what is probably an email correspondence. Fair enough.
People who write to a small and select readership should be prepared for their words to percolate to other, more open venues. And when they write what they write, they should be able to defend those positions in any arena. People should not write words which may come back to bite them in the ass.

Anyway, I realize that my comments were not read by the "participants" in this thread, though they may still have served some purpose.

I'm going to save these comments on my computer.

Anonymous said...

In response to the 'revisiting' of Mona Baker's courageous stand, it is worth reminding all that if Toury and Schesinger had been affiliated to non-Israeli universities, they would not have been asked to leave. In the same vein, St Jerome Publishing stopped selling books to Israeli institutions, not Israeli individuals. This is institutional boycott, not a boycott of individuals.

Professor Myriam Salama-Carr

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, colleagues, I was trying not to add too much to the quantity
of postings in people's in-boxes on this topic, but then Jon challenges me to make "an unequivocal and comprehensive condemnation of Mona Baker's action" and adds "But don't anyone hold their breath",
meaning he and the rest of the Engageniks will use it against me if I don't respond.

Really, Jon, am I my sister's keeper? Of course Mona Baker must speak for herself - who else could she speak for? She has not, AFAIK, ever been a delegate to AUT, NATFHE or UCU Council/Congress; she has never been elected to any office of UCU or its predecessors; she has never brought a motion on ANY topic to any UCU (etc.) national body; and for the record she has never been a member of BRICUP, either.

What she did was within the law (otherwise you can be sure she would be out of a job by now), and I defend her right to follow her
conscience in her own way, although I personally disagree with
her actions.

She did NOT remove Schlessinger and Toury from the editorial board
because they were Israeli; she did it because they were working for
Israeli institutions. She would have done the same if they had been
Canadian Catholics, but she would NOT have done it if they had been
Jewish Israelis employed by the University of London. I think most
members of this list are intelligent enough to grasp the distinction. Nonetheless, even though her actions were not discriminatory on the
grounds of race, religion, nationality or anything else, I don't agree with this form of action because it targets individuals and shifts the
focus from the murderous, racist, terrorist policies of the government of Israel, which is the real target of the PACBI boycott call.

Finally, you said:
"8) At the meeting at SOAS on Tuesday, Linda Newman said quite clearly that "The UCU has received advice that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions would be illegal." I think Linda counts as Up Top."

Yes indeed Jon, but the advice was not that it might (note: not "would") be illegal because of the Race Relations Act, on which, AFAIK, UCU has not sought advice, but because under the current rules of the union it could be deemed "ultra vires". That must be remedied I'm sure you will
agree - after all we can't have lawyers dictating what trade unions can and can't do as we've had quite enough of that sort of thing from
successive Tory and Labour governments. Or would you prefer UCU's hands to be tied by constant threats of legal action? Do tell us.

Sue Blackwell

Anonymous said...

I think the course of action would be:

1. Hear from the Palestinians - DONE
2. Consider the implications of links with Israeli institutions - to be discussed at 08 congress
3. If we feel links are inappropriate assess legal implications/risks
4. Take action to mitigate risks
5. If risks mitigated sufficiantly take boycott action
6. Hopefully induce end of Israeli occupation and achieve peace in Palestine/Israel asap.
7. Re-instate links with Israeli institutions

All perfectly legal and only progresses at each step as the union agrees to it - except stage 6 which involves other actors.

2nd concurrent plan Investigate ways of not having our ability to take solidarity action fettered by inappropriate legal constraints.

Mike Cushman

Anonymous said...


I think you are missing a step: Consult the membership of UCU. It would be foolhardy to proceed on any course of action of the type proposed without the backing of the membership.


No I didn't. This year's motion asks the whole membership to consider the implications.


Anonymous said...

Please read the Greylisting policy:

"triggers for actions leading to greylisting and boycott can only result from a request from a legitimate organisation within the state, or within the occupied territory or institution in question. Legitimate organisations would include a trade union movement, a recognised higher education union or other
representative organisation. Exceptionally, a decision to impose greylisting or boycotting might be taken following consultation with Education International in circumstances where legitimate organisations cannot be lawfully established within the state or institutions in question, or in
circumstances where institutions or branches of institutions, are established in territories under unlawful occupation as defined by UN resolutions".

You ask if Palestinians work at Ariel College and if their union is
recognised by the latter's management. The answer to both questions is no. This is a settler university which operates on land occupied illegally and over which control is exercised by force of arms. See the college website:

I cannot believe you wish to endorse Ariel's activities

Phil Marfleet

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of responses to postings

(1) the RRA issue:

"I find this unbelievable as it should have been the first question the UCU asked of the lawyers last year, are we breaking the discrimination and equality
laws if the UCU imposes an academic boycott of Israel."

There was no reason why UCU should be asking what would happen if it
"imposed an academic boycott of Israel", since no motion at Congress 2007 was calling for one and there was no question of a boycott being "imposed", whatever that means (UCU can't force any member to boycott anything, it can only recommend they do!). In case anyone is in any doubt, motion 30 called for a speaking tour of Palestinian academic trade unionists and a DISCUSSION of the boycott issue. So, what UCU
needed to know last year was whether anything planned for the TOUR might put us in legal difficulties. At that time there was a suggestion that UCU branches might hold some kind of vote during the tour, although that was never a part of any motion passed at Congress. Therefore, if the
boycott itself might be illegal for ANY reason, spending the union's
money on promoting it or testing support for it would also automatically
be illegal.

Of course I don't believe that the institutional boycott called by PACBI would be in breach of the RRA. But because the boycott would have been illegal on "ultra vires" grounds, that was enough to cause UCU serious problems - there was no need for new detailed advice on other matters.

"All I can say this means by the end of the summer the Union will have spent yet another £200,000 of our membership fees obtaining legal advice on this question."

What do you mean by that? I do hope it wasn't intended as a threat. Why would the union need to obtain any further legal advice unless some member is proposing to throw a legal challenge at it? Don't
you believe in trade union democracy? Do you think it's acceptable for trade union members to use legal threats against their own union?

(2) On the same topic, Malcolm points out the text of a UCU
Press Release in September which says "The legal advice makes it clear that making a call to boycott Israeli institutions would run a serious risk of infringing discrimination legislation." Malcolm, what I have seen - which admittedly is not the totality of the legal advice - only makes reference to previous advice to the AUT, which as I said was in
a different context. If you read the press release carefully (and all press releases are spin, of course, including the ones I write myself!), you will see that the sentence you quote is the ONLY reference to the RRA and the rest is all about the "ultra-vires" issue. While "making a boycott call" would run a "risk" under the RRA, the reason why a boycott "WOULD" be illegal is, as I understand it, because of the
ultra-vires matter. I don't think it would be proper to go into any
more detail about the legal advice on this list - after all it is still confidential to the NEC.

(3) The suggestion that "Palestinian Unions" at Ariel college must have called for greylisting it is preposterous. Ariel College is a Zionist settler enterprise. I would be surprised if it employed a single Palestinian member of staff; I would eat my hat if it employed enough to form a union branch; and I would eat fifty hats if its management allowed a union for Palestinian staff to operate there.

As Phil Marfleet has explained in detail, Ronnie has misinterpreted
the Greylisting Policy: the requirement for a "trigger" coming from within the institution in question cannot be applied to institutions in occupied territories - that would be counter to common sense and natural justice.

The wording was agreed by consensus of all those involved in the
committee drafting the Greylisting policy, including Jon as well
as myself. So if you are unhappy with it, Ronnie, you may like to
discuss it further with Jon.

But please tell us: do you think it's OK for Israel to build a college in a settlement? Do you think that college should be allowed to upgrade itself to University status, as it is trying to do? And most importantly, do you think that British trade unionists should collaborate with its activities in any way? Let's have some debate on the moral issues now - I think we've heard enough about the legal ones.

Sue Blackwell

Anonymous said...

You seem to be trying to create an argument that the union (and by
extension any UK citizen) cannot take action against any institution in Israel for any reason. There is a defence of reasonablenes in the RRA.

Any action has to be seen to be unreasonable. Are you trying to suggest that there is no reasonable criticism of Israel any reasonable action to be taken.

By indicating egregious human rights violations by Israelis am I
breaching RRA is I do not add just like Zimbabwe, Burma, the USA, the UK etc etc to every sentence.

As far as northern Cyprus is concerned there have been long running boycotts by the UK govt ever since the Turkish invasion; any you could easily argue that the Turks had at least as much justification for their
invasion as the Israelis given the actions of the Greek colonels. If
the UK government took similar action against Israel there would be no need for UCU members to take the lead.

Mike Cushman

Anonymous said...

Ann writes: "I want the right to be critical of the acts of both Israel and Palestine if such acts deny these basic human rights."

This implies that posters on this list are denying this "right to be critical". This needs to be backed by evidence. Opposition to the boycott cannot be construed as "denying the right to be critical". I am not aware that anyone on this list has denied the "right to be critical of the acts of both Israel and Palestine".

As an aside, neither "Israel", nor "Palestine" act. The Israeli government acts, Israeli and Palestinian trade unions act, the Palestinian authority act, Hamas acts, etc. This is a complex conflict with many actors which have different agendas. Part of the impossibility of an articulate discussion on this list comes from the inability to recognize and engage with such complexity.

Ann writes: "I don't want to spend more time doing this than all of the other things that matter to us and our members put together. I am horrified that we might spend the next year tearing ourselves apart as we have done this year."

I entirely agree, and, I am sure, a very large majority of members and activists, would agree too.

Ann continues: "I am equally horrified that wanting to defend such important values could be characterised as Anti-Semitism or any other form of religious or racial discrimination."

Here, again, it seems to me that this is a response to an accusation which has not been made. Nobody has ever claimed, to the best of my knowledge, that defending "such important values" [presumably, this refers to "solidarity on questions of education and trade unionism" referred to earlier in Ann's email] is, or could be characterized as, antisemitic. In the contrary, I am sure that we all agree that the defence of such values is important.

It is self-evident that a boycott of Israeli academics (or academics working at Israeli institutions) would be discriminatory. Whether such discrimination is justified by some higher imperative is, I suppose, what the debate should be about.

Ann continues: "Nevertheless we should be aware that Anti-Semitism is real phenomenon and we need to be be careful not to whip these issues up in a way that can feed Anti-Semitic sentiment."

This is certainly an important issue, not only because a number of members will feel that they will have to leave the Union if they perceive that its actions feed antisemitism.

Is it possible to campaign for the exclusion of Israeli academics, and only Israeli academics, of the cultural and academic life of humanity, but, politely, and without feeding antisemitic sentiments?

The evidence, including the exemples of discrimination mentioned by Mira in a recent email and including the numerous exemples of antisemitism in the larger boycott campaign, indicates that this is not possible. More to the point, this does not seem to worry the advocates of a boycott.

Ann continues: "Now it is time to stop using these daft arguments and concentrate on the centre of the issue which is which acts
are we talking about, do they affect the human rights I have outlined, is any action that is proposed within UCU procedures and proportionate, and how could we manage to do what is right without being pilloried by the world's press?"

Agreed. The discussion should, for example, take into account all the other forms of actions which are available to the Union and its members, and evaluate the benefits and costs of these. Given that this debate is in its xxx re-edition, I would think that all the arguments have been placed on the table already.

I'd like to recommend in particular, the excellent article by Martha Nussbaum where she discusses the costs/benefits of various forms of action.

If the press concludes that our actions feed antisemitism, then the UCU will be "pilloried". And rightly so.

On the use of anti-semitism as a tactic to supress the critical approach Ann desires see Johann Hari's article in today's Independnent

The loathsome smearing of Israel's critics


Mike Cushman

Anonymous said...

For some time now, David Hirsh has been banned from this list for a breach of confidentiality. But in a recent email to the list, Sue Blackwell quite openly copied her whole email to Deborah Fink. The email in question quoted
extensively from a previous message to the list from Ronnie. It also
mentioned the contents of further emails from Malcolm and Philip.
Deborah Fink is not, so far as I know, a member of the UCU.

Here is what Matt Waddup has told us about confidentiality: 'This list is a private discussion forum hosted by UCU for the exclusive use of UCU members. No material from this list may be reproduced without the express permission of the original poster.'

So it looks as if Sue's email is a breach of confidentiality, unless she got specific permission for her publicising of their emails from Ronnie, Malcolm and Philip. David Hirsh has been excluded from the
list for a breach of confidentiality. Does this mean that Sue must now be excluded from the list for her breach of confidentiality? If it doesn't
mean that, will David now be readmitted?

Myself, I'm not in favour of Sue being excluded from the list. But I'm definitely in favour of the rules being applied consistently, and no doubt everyone else is too. I'm sure it is not the case, and none of us would want anybody to think, that anti-boycotters are being treated more harshly
than pro-boycotters or than those who repeatedly post vilifying and
demonizing rhetoric about Israel and about those members of the union who believe that Israelis shouldn't be excluded from the global academic community.

Anonymous said...

I believe that all people should abide by the list rules but I have
twice asked a question about a serious and malicious breach of the rules (see below)to which I have received no response. Until I see a reply on the list I will take no complaints by boycott opponants about this issue seriously.

I will add that I do not think that, in normal circumstances, extended exclusion is appropriate, including in David Hirsch's case.

Mike Cushman

Anonymous said...

I am not being disingenuous. I asked for a public dissociation to try and deter 'ucuwhistleblower' from future scurrilous and threatening breaches.

I told you that while I appreciated your action in getting the posting
removed from Harry's Place and noted you distaste for the HP site, I thought this was only half the job but you told me you thought you had done sufficient.

In the light of that I re-posted when the issue became live again. I
also again made clear my opposition to DH's continued exclusion

Mike Cushman

Anonymous said...

'Important to point out that Israelis have plenty to celebrate today. Particularly those who remember being chucked out of their countries or had attempts made on their lives or the lives of their families because they were Jewish.'

Chucked out of their countries?! Is that why Palestinians were made to pay the price for what happened to you or ay other people (if they suffered)? Is that why the were 'cucked out' of their homes and homeland,and have had their basic human rights denied ever since it all started?

I would be srriously concerned to know that there are those who truly believe that the genocide commited on Palestinians to chuck them out of their country is a cause worth celebrating?!

If it was my country that did it I would be walking around with my head down, and protesting loudly against its government and its genocidal politics, trying to distance myself from it as much as possible. I would feel very much like Haim Bresheeth does. And he is a Jew as well.

And before you answer to any of the above perhaps you could go back to my little hypothetical scenario of before and think what if someone came here to your property, chucked you out, built a hotel and brought all their relatives from all over the world to live there, and then started celebrating such an achievement? What about 'Do not do to others what you do not want to be done unto you' principle of Judeism?


Anonymous said...

"The situation is not hypothetical; it is precisely what did happen to
the Jewish people. Following which, for 2000 years, we have been kicked
about from pillar to post, refugees every generation, being murdered
every generation, until such time as the Jewish people were in a very
fortunate position to be able to re-establish the Jewish state in the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people."

As far as I am aware the story of the 'Promised Land' did not come with a manual to destroy another nation to create that land.
Besides, if the entire mankind kept going back 2000 years into history and each of us tried to return to where we were in the past 2000 years in a peaceful manner the world today look completely different. But chances are that, if it happened the world would end up at a massive war.

"The great tragedy of the situation is that it is also the homeland of another national group -
the Palestinians - who are as much deserving of justice as the Jewish people."

What you are saying is exactly what I said: The Palestinians have had to pay the price for your sufferings.

"What is particularly unfortunate about the position you take is that to only accept the narrative of one nation and to utterly ignore, indeed demonize, the narrative of another - an approach, incidentally, that you and others on this group share with the far right and settler movement in Israel (who utterly refuse to accept the Palestinian narrative) - is that the only thing that can result from it is further conflict,
violence and bloodshed."

It is not the approach or the 'narrative' of the Palestinians. It is the facts that we are working with. With means of communications nowadays we are able to see things 'live' as they are unfolding. And we know what we have been seeing on a regular basis on TV, reading, in the newspapers, hearing on the news etc.

What one's seeing is far more convincing that any 'narrative', and that's why I share the views of most of the world.

The only reason why the bloodshed is continuing is that the Palestinians are being denied return to their homes. Would you sit and watch me occupying your property and telling you that you can never return, and to make sure that you never even think of it I'll shoot at you on a daily basis.

Let's disarm Israel to bring it to stop the bloodshed and het it at an even keel with Palestinians to give peace a real chance.

"I really do suggest that you take some time out to read extensively on Jewish history, come to understand the position and narrative of the Jewish people."

I am speechless at someone wanting us in the 21st century to go back 2000 years into history to understand why the Palestinians have been chosen to pay the price for the sufferings of the Jewish people. If that is so shall we tell American Indians to do the same? And do the same with Latin America and the rest of the world? Are you proposing a major shift in world population? Should we then all start re-examining our 'narratives' and going back even 500 years?

Finally, there are the likes of Shirley Franklin and Haim Brasheeth, and the London Rabbin that I mentioned in one of my previous emails (who called for boycott of all Israeli products and shops in England in protest to the politics of the Israeli government). I find those people strong in their resolve not to be placed in the same 'box' with the genocidal Israeli government. What would you say to the fact that there is a great number of Jews who do not share your views, and refuse to be associate with the genocidal politics of the Israeli government?

"and then find a way to allow your clearly passionate activism to be channeled positively for justice and peace for all."

Passionate? I can see that the only thing that I am always passionate about is 'justice' and, as I see what the rest of the world has been witnessing for such a long time, I am on the side of the justice. Sorry for those who are failing to see it.


Anonymous said...

You are obviously (and fortunately unsuccessfully) trying to make us all delusional and ignorant. So, you are clearly trying to parade any criticism against the Israeli genocidal politics as 'racism' and anti-Semitism' (as it said in the article in the Independent of yesterday that some members put the link for yesterday. I'd strongly recommend that you read daily press.).

I am not going to stoop that low to offend you like you did me, and will let other to be the judge of what you wrote/did.

Your email is full of hate and is very much directed at me for openly criticising the genocidal and murderous politics of the Israeli government as the hate mail was directed towards Haim Bresheeth for feeling ashamed of it and going public about it!

Genocide in Palestine is not a lie, but it seems that I'll have to take this opportunity to teach the definition of genocide (who is now the ignorant one?):

'Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.' (Wikipedia)

and another one:

"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." (UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2).

Please read it carefully to make sure that you don't misss the word 'any' in the definition above. And the Israeli government has been doing MOST of it see above in bold). So, if you were by any chance (which is highly unlikely) to convince us that what's happening to Palestinians isn't quite happening to them, what would you call then the actions of the Israeli government which drove Palestinians from their homes and homeland? An act of mercy?

I KNOW the Employment Law, and that's exactly why I have kept saying that the focus from criticising the genocidal and murderous politics of Israeli government should not be shifted to racism or anti-Semitism as you have been trying to do. Criticiisng one politics and its actions has nothing to do with being against one nation.

If that was true than we would not have a multi-party system and democracy, and would see whoever criticised the party in power as being against us, meaning discriminating against us (i.e. being 'racist').

But you do not seem to be open to different views when it comes to the issue of criticising the Israeli government.

Let me quote the definition of racism:

'Racism, by its perhaps simplest definition, is prejudice and discrimination based on race. One with racist beliefs might hate certain groups of people according to their race (i.e., bigotry).' (Wikipeia)

A great number of Jews are opposing the actions of the Israeli government. So, are they discriminating against themselves? Clearly not. Opposing actions of a government has nothing to do with racism.

No Iraqi (apart from those that were part of the state establishment) has ever seen opposing the government of Iraq at the time of Saddam as an act of racism. And they had sanctions imposed on them for what their government was doing, and yet didn't see the sanctions as an act of racism although those were denying them basics for life.

So, what you keep trying to do is use incorrect names ( 'racism' and 'anti-Semitism) for the criticism against the murderous and genocidal politics of Israeli government ' to shut up anyone who is trying to criticse the actions of the Israeli government. It is the actions that we have been criticising. If you cared to read the posts carefully you would have picked up Haim Bresheeth's and Shirley Franklin's posts in the past days. They ARE JEWS as well. So, based on you trying so hard to shut me up (as well as anyone else who has so far criticised Israel) you would probably be saying to them what hate mails to Haim were saying, or what Shirley was saying the likes of you would think of her (as a self-hater or denier). If you claim to be 'all-knowing' how come then that there are your fellow-Jews who think the same way I and a great number of other people do? Are they also 'racist' and 'anti-Semitists' for saying exactly the same things that I and a lot of others have been saying? Answer that question if you can.

You obviously do not like me for calling things their real name, but I have to whether you would wish to accept it or not. Yu obviously find it difficult to accept any criticism against the Israeli government and to think outside the 'box'.

Someone seeing murders and genocide a cause for celebration is saying enough for itself.

"One can only feel sorry for you for trying so hard"

You were reading my thoughts as that's exactly what I was going to say about you.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but none of those definitions are mine (both of them are properly referenced, and the long one is the UN definition).

BTW- You missed Israel from the list.

Another point: you said 'spanning' the existence of Israel. So, the difference between Israel and those countries is that those countries existed, whereas Israel was created on such actions. And whereas none of us condone any kind of murderous actions towards any people, the issue here is on the way one country has been created, and the right to those who had been driven out of their homes and homeland to return to what was rightfully and legal theirs being denied. And the actions of the Israeli government keep continuing.

As to the Palestinians and their struggle, I am sure you yourself would not be prepared to give up the right to return to what was rightfully yours if anyone came and took it. OR WOULD YOU?
I am sure you would not.None of us would. So, I don't think that one could call the struggle of those who have been expelled from their land and properties to return there a genocidal act.

May I mention again that there are Jews on this list who are opposing the Israeli politics much in the same way as I or many of us have been. But it appears when I ask you or any of those sharing your views to explain that you keep avoiding it. WHY?

Thanks for mentioning Serbia though. I know only too well what they did, and that they created their territory within my country following ethnic cleansing and genocide with refugees and displaced people created through such horror being denied the right to return to what's rightfully and legally theirs. So, there's a big resemblance between my country and what has been happening to the Palestinians. In effect, I can say that I have been through a historically comparable experience).

So, would you be prepared to claim that it was OK what Serbia did to us (ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, imprisonments, killing of civilians, bombing places, and the rest of the horror that the world has witnessed taking place there) to create their territory?


Anonymous said...

This focus on anti-semitism is about the framing of the issue in Israeli terms and the presentation of Palestinian concerns as
being of secondary importance.

In fact, anti-semitism is not that important for a very good reason. It would be absolutely astounding if Palestinians were not anti-semitic - there is a war going on and the result of war is to create all the emotions and experiences that lead to prejudice.
Northern Ireland is a good example of this - the religious divide is wider today than it was in the 1970s according to reports.
The only way to diminish anti-semitism in Arab world is to find a just settlement in which Palestinians are not made to pay for the huge historic injustice to the Jewish people.

In our own cultures, the insistence of pro-Israel supporters that any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic may well be having a counter-intuitive effect. History is used in our culture to legitimate ideas and practices. Things that have been around a long
time are seen as more worthy and important. (I don't agree with this).

Only this morning I read an article in yesterday's Independent in which Johan hari commented that he had been accused of anti-semitism
because he had reported on a settlement that was piping raw sewage onto Palestinian land making it unusable. He was accused
of repeating a biblical accusation that Jews poisoned wells. As I read I thought how few people in modern society would ever have heard that Biblical accusation and how well his accusers were doing to publicise it.

Accusations of anti-semitism won't work. There is no defence for Israel except justice for the Palestinian people.

Hera Cook

Anonymous said...

Time for one of my universally popular interventions.....

I have received a number of complaints off list from members about the tone, conduct and yes the volume too of contributions on the Israel/Palestine debate.

Its not for me to proscribe what we talk about but let me say once more:

1. Be civil even to those with whom you disagree. (Civil means being polite and respectful).

2. Take circular or extended arguments off list

3. Don't publish messages posted on here elsewhere

Contrary to popular opinion I do not sit around waiting for the next message to come in before carefully examining it. I and colleagues do have a day job too so as has been said many times before I rely on all of you to treat each other with respect.

I'm very loath to remove posting rights from any member but, given the clear unhappiness that many members have communicated to me off list about the current situation I most certainly will if members breach any of above.

Please bear this message in mind in future posts.

Matt Waddup

Anonymous said...

October 08, 2007

University College Union Activists' List - What Was Said

This article was put together from text and quotations supplied by a UCU Whistleblower and is a reposting of a comment in a previous thread.

Here is a selection of the arguments which were posted by UCU members on the UCU Activists List during the campaign to implement a boycott of Israeli academics.

Membership of the list is open to anyone who pays their subscription fees to UCU and at the time of writing there are more than 700 people who subscribe to this list. The issues discussed on this list include those one would expect of any trade union, namely pay and working conditions. However, since late May of this year when delegates at the first UCU conference voted to ‘encourage members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions’ one issue has dominated the activists’ list: the legitimacy of boycotting academics who work in Israel.

Those most affected by this motion are of course Jews and in an attempt to silence charges of racism delegates at the UCU congress came up with a formula – ‘Israel’s 40-year occupation’ means that ‘passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-Semitic’. What happened on the list shows that this statement was at best misconceived and at worst disingenuous.

There were many times when criticism of Israel crossed red lines, when the tone and content of debate became unacceptable. For those sensitive to the ways in which Jew-hatred creeps into language this was a worrying, indeed ominous development. The State of Israel was demonized as a unique evil on the planet, its Jewish inhabitants characterized as brutal, militaristic racists, its supporters condemned as blood-thirsty Zionists who ruthlessly exploited every opportunity to smear the boycott camp with accusations of anti-Semitism. This tells us much about the boycotters’ self-image. Oblivious to the genuine fears of their opponents they presented themselves as bravely withstanding the power of the Zionist lobby, sole occupants of the moral high ground. A few even drew attention to their Jewish roots and tragic family history (relatives murdered during the holocaust) to give their words greater weight; as if one’s own identity can be used as an excuse to say things with impunity.

And all the time the majority of the activists’ list sat on their hands in silence.

Historical parallels are often drawn. Among the most disturbing is the suggestion that Jews today face dangers comparable to those in the early 1930s. There are of course many differences between then and now. But there are also lessons to be learned from the past. One of them is that the Nazis never made clear their true intentions towards the Jews until it was too late. The architects of the ‘Final Solution’ – and it was a genocide that only a remnant of European Jewry survived – went to great lengths to hide their aims. Of course the boycotters have no such aspirations. Indeed, no one is suggesting that they do. But their words and actions have given cause for celebration to Jew haters everywhere.

Moreover, many boycotters do indeed seek the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. This is clear from what a couple have incautiously stated as well as from the significant silences during the debate. Despite repeated and polite requests to explain the aims of the boycott and the conditions under which it would end, only one person provided a substantial response – and that was cryptic; ‘Supporters of the boycott have many varied imaginings of what the final settlement will look like – if we are mature we will realise that that the nature of the final outcome will surprise us all’.

Promoting analogies between the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews and the policies of various Israeli governments towards the Palestinians, paying lip-service when asked to condemn examples of Jew hatred in the Arab world and beyond, several advocates of boycott succeeded only in showing themselves in their true colours. That is racist, if not by intent then certainly in effect. This, it must be said, was the most disturbing aspect of the debate.

Individuals who pride themselves on membership of a Union that considers itself at the forefront in the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia, are prepared to make one exception when it comes to defending human rights: Israeli Jews.

The volume of correspondence generated by the proposed boycott was enormous. More than 190,000 words were written (about a 500 page document). Some of the contributors fell into two camps: ‘pro-boycotters’ and ‘anti-boycotters’. In between were a large number of people who tended not express an opinion. Among them were members of several groups; the 'apathetic', who didn't care about this issue; the 'silent', who were against the boycott but were afraid to speak out; and the ‘middle group’ who entered the fray periodically, usually out of frustration because they believed the boycott question was diverting attention from ‘bread and butter’ union issues.

What follows are extracts from this debate. Not being a member of the Union the UCU Whistleblower was entrusted with the task of editing the material and introducing it to a wider public. Apparently the moderator of the activists’ list has declared that anyone who blows the whistle, who makes public some of the stupid, ignorant and inaccurate statements that have been made on this forum, will be excluded from further ‘debate’. I use the word loosely and with some irony. Academics are supposed to be calm, rational and intelligent, willing to listen to different points of view. This, however, conveys the opposite impression. Taken by themselves some of the quotations may appear innocuous. But imagine yourself in the place of one of the handful of activists who for four months stood up every day, sometimes hour by hour, to an unrelenting tide of menacing assumptions and in one case even the threat of legal action. What a deeply unpleasant if valuable experience it must have been for all those who had the courage to confront such threatening behaviour within the Union.

I) On equating Nazi treatment of Jews with Israeli treatment of Palestinians:

‘Ethnic Cleansing of Israeli territory in 1948-9 caused the Palestinian refugee problem’
(Stephen Flaherty, 13 July)

‘... the definition adopted in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the UN in 1948. This lists several acts, falling short of total extermination (most of them apply very clearly to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians).’
(John Porter, 24 August)

‘The pro-boycott 'camp' is not totally immune to genocide involved in Holocaust ... We are also appalled to see the sort of treatment that Israelis meted out on Palestinians given the past experience of Jewish oppression.’
(Shirley Franklin, 24 August)

‘I personally see disturbing parallels between the plight of Palestinians in Gaza and for example, the Warsaw ghetto’
(Ruth Aylett, 24 August)

‘Of course Gaza isn't an exact replica of the Warsaw ghetto, but the analogy is valid; there are many parallels.’
(John Porter, 31 August)

‘I feel that the Warsaw Ghetto/Gaza discussion is interesting, as there are some striking similarities between the situations, but also, even more striking differences, of course. The most disturbing fact for me, is the involvement of the grandsons of survivors from the camps and ghettoes in what takes place in Gaza and elsewhere’
(Haim Bresheeth, 31 August)

‘we should all take great care of not looking away when terrible things happen to the Palestinians, even if (and especially if...) the perpetrators are descendants or Holocaust survivors!’
(Haim Bresheeth, 1 September)

‘the conditions in the Aida camp square with the conditions of the Warsaw ghetto’
(Keith Hammond, 22 September)

‘I am not trying to say that Israeli action in Gaza is the same as Nazi action in Warsaw or Lodz pre 42; what I am pointing to is that the process of degradation, immiseration and dehumanisation, the denial of the normal dignities of human life, in Gaza bring to life the shades and shadows of the Ghettos that we thought we had left behind in 1945’
(Mike Cushman, 23 September)

II) Questioning the legitimacy of the State of Israel

‘I have a big problem with this 'right to exist' business. The Israeli state and some of its supporters seem to have elevated this 'principle' to one of absolute status, but closer examination renders the idea preposterous’
(Andy Scally, 28 June)

‘On its current record, then, Israel has no right to exist and it's people must be conquered, partially expelled and brutalised by Occupation’
(Stephen Flaherty, 21 September)

‘the idea of countries having rights, for example in the often used phrase of "Israel's right to exist", is something I disagree with ... Israel has no right to exist’
(Stephen Flaherty, 23 September)

‘I do not support the state of Israel’s so-called right to exist – that is, I don’t believe it has one. I do not support a Jewish state’s so-called right to exist – I don’t believe it has one’
(Stephen Flaherty, 25 September)

III) Zionism as racism / imperialism

‘I believe Zionism to be the fundamental cause of war and suffering in the Near East. Colonial settlement is not unfamiliar, most if not all Imperial colonial projects involve the subjugation of indigenous people’
(Ben Jones, 18 July)

‘Zionism most commonly used meaning refers to Israeli imperialism and a Jewish state between the Jordan and the Med’
(Stephen Flaherty, 19 July)

‘I think that the association of zionism with imperialism is pretty common and well-established enough to be a perfectly valid usage of that word’
(Hamish Cunningham, 27 July)

‘The problem for me is indeed the racist nature of the Zionist enterprise, which persists to this very day’
(Haim Bresheeth, 2 September)

IV) Israel as a European colonial outpost

‘Israel is currently acting as the last of the European settler states’
(Ruth Aylett, 6 July)

‘a partnership between the two regimes [Israel, South Africa] exporting techniques to implement racist colonial policies’
(Ben Jones, 16 July)

‘proposals would target the world's only Jewish state; it would but not because it is Jewish but because it is colonialist’
(Bob Waugh, 7 August)

‘many proponents of the boycott are motivated by the same sense of history that motivated anti-colonial struggles and that they see Israel as a colonial power in the Middle East’
(Bob Waugh, 7 August)

‘My charge against Israeli academic institutions is that they have failed to live up to producing really useful knowledge and further aided the Israeli state to colonise and occupy Palestine’
(George Shire, 24 August)

V) On equating Israel with South Africa under apartheid

‘The parallels between apartheid South Africa and Israel's are now widely acknowledged, Israel is a state that practices apartheid’
(Ben Jones, 13 July)

‘It is appropriate to demonstrate, as Ronnie Kasrils has, that Israel's oppression of the Palestinians is even greater than that of Black South Africans under apartheid’
(Ben Jones, 13 July)

‘The close connection between Israel and the former South African regime is still memorable’
(Ben Jones, 16 July)

‘The Apartheid Wall’
(Stephen Flaherty, 30 July)

‘I hope that there are elements in the Israeli TU movement that understand and wish to change fundamentally the arrangements that create an apartheid-like state in Palestine/Israel’
(Mike Cushman, 4 August)

‘All this stuff about "singling out" Israel reminds me of the responses made by supporters of South Africa as to them being singled out and that there were worse regimes than them in Africa’
(Stephen Flaherty, 15 August)

‘The argument that bad - or worse - conduct takes place elsewhere was one used by apologists for the South African system’
(Philip Marfleet, 23 August)

‘To live in [a] kind of racist South Africa’
(Haim Bresheeth, 26 September)

VI) Israel as a militaristic, undemocratic country

‘The whole Israeli education system - from nursery to university - is embedded in the Israeli obsession with war as some sort of 'defence' against who knows what ...’
(Keith Hammond, 19 September)

‘Israel is an ethno-theocracy, called by some 'Jewish Democracy' ... it is a democracy for Jews only.’
(Haim Bresheeth, 2 September)

VII) The influence of a Zionist lobby

‘On what basis was a possible boycott of Israeli universities deemed illegal? ... My gut feeling is that the national leadership was looking for an exit strategy in the face of relentless external pressure’
(Ron Mendel 28 September)

‘It is all about scoring points for Israel and not looking at the situation out there. It is racist right down to its core. It is the aim of those supporting Palestinian academics to expose this rotten Zionist. Why is that so difficult to understand?’
(Keith Hammond, 2 October)

‘Issues of Palestine are now determining tenure issues in the States. Can we expect the Zionist lobby to go the same way here ... Bread and butter issues cannot be neatly compartmentalised so that we have separate arrangements for what is "safe" (and does not threaten Zionism) and "not safe" (in what actively opposes Zionism).’
(Keith Hammond, 4 October)

VIII) Accusations that charges of anti-Semitism (Jew hatred) and trivialization of the holocaust are being deliberately used by anti-boycotters to stifle debate

‘accusations of "anti-Semitism" might be from a) thinking Israel is right and therefore the only possible explanation for opposition is "anti-Semitism". Or they might be b) an attempt to silence criticism.’
(Stephen Flaherty, 4 July)

‘A worldwide anti-Semitic conspiracy, if you like. And this is basically the foundation behind the endless accusations of anti-Semitism that you encounter’
(Stephen Flaherty, 5 July)

‘Why should Israel’s legacy of horror and trauma be exploited to deprive the Palestinians – a people who are/where absolutely dissociable from what had been an entirely European complicity – their homeland or their right to return. Just how long can the history of anti-Semitism and the holocaust be used as a fence to exempt Israel from arguments and sanctions against it for its behaviour towards Palestinians?’ (George Shire, 6 July)

‘according to some of the postings [of anti-boycotters] that is what they seem to be saying: any criticism of Israel is inherently anti-semitic; ergo no criticism of Israel is possible’
(Muir Houston, 13 July)

‘it may not be said that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but in practice this is what it amounts to’
(Stephen Flaherty, 13 July)

‘If we keep coming back to anti-Semitism it avoids the issue of how Israel is oppressing Palestinians’
(Shirley Franklin, 17 July)

‘An attempted genocide in the 1930s and 40s does not in my view make the state that resulted from it immune to normal criticism’
(Ruth Aylett, 23 August)

‘Those in favour of debate are doing much to highlight the hypocrisy around the allegations of 'anti-semitism'’
(Ben Jones, 24 August)

‘I can only see it as an attempt to show that Palestinians are anti Jewish (as Semites themselves they can surely not be called anti Semitic) and to smear their supporters, by association, with the charge of anti Semitism’
(John Porter, 28 August)

‘The harking back to the memories of the Holocaust as a warm cover for everything is a mistake, I believe.’
(Haim Bresheeth, 1 September)

‘[Canadian academics have started to move towards a boycott position] and so have a tiny group in Germany – the Germans have been held back with a historical guilt that has really crippled debate.’
(Keith Hammond, 23 September)

‘the same old tactics are [being] employed. Israel claims to be a Jewish state THEREFORE anyone who criticises Israel is anti-Jewish’
(Keith Hammond, 1 October)

‘Everything put forward in good faith gets distorted by XXXX and his team and it is obscene. It is not just about different plays on words, it is a whole campaign of denial that started in 1948’
(Keith Hammond, 2 October)

IX) Claims that pro-boycotters are being smeared

‘it seems that I'm being associated with Nazi practices. I'm not surprised – but the allusion is odious’
(Philip Marfleet, 17 July)

‘This hue and cry over a word [genocide] is just another attempt by some anti-boycotters to tar their opponents with the brush of anti-Semitism.’
(John Porter, 24 August)

‘The logic ... appears to be ... that anyone who supports the Palestinian right to self determination, or opposes Israel's brutal and illegal occupation of their country, must be anti-Semitic.’
(John Porter, 24 August)

‘I’m placed in a gallery of rogues and racists. This is heavyweight abuse ... I suggest that there is definite intent: to dissuade colleagues from speaking their minds about the occupation and its impacts.’
(Philip Marfleet, 24 August)

‘Many of us on the left have been labelled 'antisemites' when we have criticised Israel ... I think such tactics just expose the crudity and violence which typify Israel's history in the last few decades’
(Haim Bresheeth, 20 September)

‘The opponents of the boycott have managed to use this tone against most of us others, and to label us as 'racists' and anti-semites' amongst other terms’
(Haim Bresheeth, 1 October)

‘The dear members of Engage are invited to report all of us who refuse to be silenced and throttled, as they obviously consider us of the same ilk of BNP. They make me gasp.’
(Haim Bresheeth, 2 October)

David T adds:

I don't think that fanatics should be dissuaded from expressing their views clearly. Indeed, if they did not, we wouldn't know what there views were.

I was equivocal about the sacking of the racist academic, Frank Ellis: but I think I should have been supportive of him. Similarly, I would oppose the sacking of any of these academics.

However, I do think that their views deserve a wider audience.

As a footnote, here's the explanation of the 'UCU left' as to why they voted to end the boycott 'discussion':

As has now become public knowledge through a letter to the Guardian, UCU’s QC is recognised as a leading expert on equality and human rights legislation. It would have been highly irresponsible for us to ignore such authoritative and unusually robust advice and thereby place union funds in jeopardy. We do not doubt that well-funded groups are ready to engage in legal action against the Union, but even before that stage was reached, the Trustees made it clear that they would feel obliged to fulfil their legal duty to ensure that union funds were only spent on lawful purposes.

"Well funded groups" = "Rich jews"

Anonymous said...


Forgive the odd shouting, but sometimes it is the ONLY WAY.

I am sick to death of all this RUBBISH!!

When we have 100% UCU membership among those eligible, when V-Cs and College principals are quaking in their boots at the thought of UCU, indeed when all education is under public democratic and workers control, then maybe we can
have this list devoted to invective about Palestine/Israel. In the meantime, could we please get back to some BASIC trade unionism??

Let us suppose that there is, eventually, a vote over a boycott and a vote for a boycott. Fair enough, I will abide by it. BUT - do you think the UCU
members who politely pushed their way past me on the picket line will abide by it? Or, if UCU can say "right, comrade, you're out of the union because you broke the boycott", that any member involved will be terrified, or quaking in their boots, pleading to be re-admitted? Or, like one of my
members, who is none too keen on Hamas, would they not just resign? He won't ever come back, he tells me. And thus, make what is already a pretty weak industrial union even weaker?

I've been a member of NATFHE for a long time, stood on picket lines in the icy cold, tried to persuade people who are very reluctant, that it would be "a good idea" to join. It would be great if we had a closed shop, and real industrial militancy, but we don't. If we're going to build industrial
militancy, it will have to be done slowly and carefully. Sorry, but the Israel/Palestine issue/boycott doesn't recruit members. NOT ONE member will join because of it. (No doubt someone will protest, "I only joined to promote a boycott", but it would be strange if that were the case.)

I don't want to read invective amongst people who should be friends, indeed my friends, and who probably agree over many issues. CAN THIS PLEASE JUST STOP?? NOW!!

Back to the marking - yes, it is preferable to spend a weekend with exam scripts rather than reading this list!!

Thank you for reading

Joseph B

Anonymous said...

Please, can we get back to Trade Union matters?Subscribers to the activists list would be forgiven for thinking that Israel and Palestine totally dominate union affairs. However, it is only the activists list where a VERY SMALL number of passionate contributors results in that question totally dominating discussion. I have estimated before that in the last couple of months the top 7 posters on each "side" of the debate accounted for 68% of I/P posts and 45% of total posts. I serve on both the National Executive Committee and the Strategy & Finance Committee and I can assure you that we spend the vast majority of our time on what Joseph B calls "basic trade unionism". We try to give international issues (including Israel, Palestine, Zimbabwe and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan) the proportionate amount of time they deserve.


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more with these comments. To read a lot of invective about which side is right and which is wrong in the Middle East is not central to my view of the work of UCU. In my opinion, both sides in the
terrible situation in the Middle East are enacting violent activities against civilian individuals, and both sides are wrong in what they are
doing, and much of what they are thinking. In my non-UCU part of life, I can take some small actions on this, but I will not see it as a priority for UCU at this stage. In the meantime, since I believe I have heard most of the arguments many times, I now automatically delete messages from those
whose names I recognise. I hope those UCU members like me do similarly until we have more messages on cour union matters.


Anonymous said...

"A progress report one year after the government's response to the
All-Party Inquiry into Antisemitism suggests the Department for
Innovation, Universities and Science has failed to do enough to tackle antisemitism on campus."


From the report (p12):

"Antisemitic discourse is also hard to identify because the boundaries of acceptable discourse have become blurred to the point that individuals and organisations are not aware when these boundaries have been crossed, and because the language used is more subtle particularly in the contentious
area of the dividing line between antisemitism and criticism of Israel or Zionism."

I'd be interested to know what measures UCU is taking to equip itself to identify and oppose antisemitic discourse.

I am sorry to be so blunt but...

There *is* a charnel house of anti-Jewish filth in British society. There is a political organisation whose leader says that (quote) 'the Holocaust is a mere detail of history'.

It is the British "National" Party.

Since the 1990s the BNP has sought to present itself as a respectable
political party, contesting seats in elections, downplaying the sieg
heiling, razor blades under posters, firebombing violence that they have a long history of. Those of us with a long memory (and the scars to prove it) can't forget.

I believe that we need to unite as many people as possible in
opposition to the nazi menace. I don't believe that the House of
Lords is the vehicle for stopping anti-semitism, anti-islam, or
anti-asylum seeker racism. I do believe that trade unions have the
social weight and the collective responsibility to do so.

Can we please stop this silly navel gazing and face up to the world
around us? Our members are black and white, Jewish and Muslim and
Christian and Buddist and atheist and... oh, for goodness sake. We
are human beings and we need to treat ourselves as such.

Sean Wallis

Anonymous said...


I cannot see the contradiction between fighting the BNP and discussing a report on anti-semitism in universities or what UCU should be doing at a
collective level to fight antisemitism, any more than I would see a contradiction between, for instance, discussing anti-Black racism, discrimination against disabled people or sexiism and what UCU should be doing about them and fighting the BNP. I agree with you that trade unions should be taking a leading role in stopping prejudice and discrimination of all kinds. However, I presume you are not suggesting that UCU should disband the Equality Committee and the Equality Unit, stop all its other work on equality issues and just fight the BNP. We need to both fight the BNP and carry on with the excellent work of the Equality Unit on equality issues.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree that we should discuss any form of racism. Perhaps it would be the right time to ask if UCU is doing anything to combat the anti-Islamic trends that are quite present in the society nowadays. The following link is just one example of how far it can get: http://www.islamawareness.net/Islamophobia/ip_uk.html

Unfortunately, to be a Muslim nowadays quite often means being associated with 'terrorism' and 'terrorists' and things that are evil. Due to that unfortunate and undeserved branding and stereotyping Muslims are quite often being pushed into social exclusion which they do not either need or want. As we should all be working towards inclusion of all groups I believe that we should combat the stereotypes and help and support everyone to successfuly integrate into society.

Therefore, I would ask UCU if they are doing anything (and what) to stop anti-Islam?

It would be really helpful if we could have some points of action on combatting anti-Islamic tendencies in the society and stereotyping of Muslims. can anyone from the Union shed some light on what's being done to combat that trend?


Anonymous said...

Good aim and so "we" do. But if we're talking about addressing racism this is indeed a "blunt" approach. One problem with it is that it is underplays the diversity NATFHE, AUT and UCU have always upheld. Racism itself discriminates and we cannot fight it by insisting that everybody is fundamentally similar. We are not merely a morass of trade unionists and we have to be cognisant of different types of racism in order to understand how to deal with them. This is why I persist in raising this matter. I appreciate Marion's response.

In her last, Jenna seems to reject Sean's worldview and instead espouses the other extreme - a hierarchy of discrimination. Why, as Marion points out, can't we oppose different forms of racism where we find them? Incidentally, Jenna's use of Islamophobia as a smokescreen to divert from antisemitism is a familiar UCU line
(http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=840). UCU's own documentation gives the impression that as an organisation we expect to focus our anti-racist activity outwards at our workplaces, and are not in the habit of applying it reflexively.

It is good that the SWP plans to move its party-wide focus to the BNP this year instead of Israel but in some ways, Sean, I'm afraid you
haven't been blunt enough. I'm saying that the boycott campaign
contributes to an antisemitic climate - there's nothing "silly navel gazing" about that. Unless you're saying that there hasn't been any antisemitism in this UCU boycott campaign.

Could I maybe press Sean and Jenna on this - are you saying that there
hasn't been any antisemitism in the UCU boycott campaign? And if there
has, what, specifically, is UCU's, and pro-boycotters' responsibility to reverse its ill effects?

Lastly, I am behind the push to oppose Islamophobia on campus.
Islamophobia can be expressed in subtle ways and I expect I'll need
guidance from experts, reports and explanations of its different
manifestations. Anti-racism is often not intuitive. Sophisticated or ignorant racism insists that it is other things - a concern for
security, for example.

Anonymous said...

It is the case that criticism of Israel is not necessarily
anti-semitic. This does not entail that every criticism of Israel is
not anti-semitic. This is a matter of modal logic. (There is also a
political question, which is that Israel is not a single entity but a
state with citizens, laws, political parties and so forth; and
therefore were it to be claimed that criticism of Israel were
automatically anti-semitic, then all political discourse within and
without Israel would have to cease.)

But your email raises a useful question, which I would characterise thus:

>> Given that racism is pervasive, and none of us are immune from
its effects, how can we challenge it?

Some have argued that the answer is education, but
(a) who educates the educators?
(b) what do we do about external forces, e.g. press stories or
politicians legitimating racist discourse?
(c) how do we address the social roots of resentments expressed in
racist language (e.g. housing, low pay, etc.)?

Here I want to argue that the question of common experience and
collective struggle is crucial to solving this. People are not
passive recipients of racist ideas. They can reject them because they
aspire to a collective humanity. You got a sense of that on the Love
Music Hate Racism carnival.

The experience of anti-racist struggles in the 1970s was that people would march against the National Front because they had a common cause (opposition to a resurgent nazi movement) while simultaneously having all sorts of misconceptions about "other" people. However, in the process of opposing the NF, those people themselves learned to work with and defend (and even marry...) people who were different from them, had different music, culture, etc.

A similar process has happened over the last five years with the
anti-war movement and opposition to Islamophobia. Racism against
Muslims in the west has a different historical root from European
anti-semitism, being primarily a racism of immigration and empire.
But that does not mean that they are so different. Racism renews
itself, that is, people accept racist ideas because they are actively promoted. In the words of South Pacific, "It has to be taught". Hence modern anti-semitism can wax or wane, just as can modern anti-Muslim prejudice.

My point is that trade unions (including educational trade unions) are not merely collections of educators and educatees. They are organisations of workers with an experience of people working
alongside each other, and a history of collective struggle.

Therefore the primary responsibility of the trade union is to collectively organise active opposition to racism and fascism,
involving as many members as possible in expressing their opposition to the nazis, and as collectively as possible, i.e. big events with a broad base that bring people together to oppose the nazis. I gave some examples in a previous email.

One such event has been called. I note that LMHR and UAF have called
a national demonstration on 21 June and we need to build it.

Sean Wallis

Anonymous said...

Sean and Jenna are asked to say that there has been no anti-semitism in the UCU "boycott campaign". I cannot speak for either Sean or Jenna, but as
someone who has taken part in and observed the debate on UCU' s policy towards Israeli institutions at all levels of the union, including reading the endless arguments on this site between a small number of people who are
never going to agree with each other, I can honestly say that I have not seen or heard any statements from anyone who has expressed criticism of
Israeli policies and practices which a reasonable person could possibly construe as antisemitic. I accept that I may have missed some contributions!

For the record, I remain unsure about the desirability of UCU pusuing support for a boycott of Israeli institutions for a variety of reasons, but do not believe that if such a policy were to be adopted it would constitute antisemitism. If some people believe otherwise, so be it.

Having refrained from joining in the debate for so long, I am already beginning to wish I hadn't, but I believe that someone who hasn't already spent hours (where do these people find all these hours?) in the debate, but
has spent a lifetime in opposing racism of all kinds, is obliged to say something simple and straightforward.

I shall not respond to any responses to this posting since I do not wish to prolong what is already by now a fruitless debate.


Anonymous said...

University and College Union

Egmont House, 25-31 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9UT, Tel 020 7670 9700


UCU Congress, 28-30 May 2008: First report of the Congress Business Committee including motions submitted

Motions submitted for debate at the annual meeting of UCU Congress and Sector Conferences to be held 28-30 May 2008 in Manchester


Composite motion SFC10 and compositing amendments SFC10A.1, SFC10A.2 and SFC10A.3

K Palestine National Executive Committee

Conference notes the

· continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;

· humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;

· apparent complicity of the Israeli academy;

affirms that

· criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;

· pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;

resolves that

· UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;

· the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;

· UCU facilitate twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;

· Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.

L Palestine and the Occupation University of Brighton – Grand Parade

Conference notes the
• continuation of illegal settlement, extrajudicial assassinations, indiscriminate killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
• humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;
• apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy;

affirms that
• criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;
• pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;
resolves that
• UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;
• the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;
• UCU facilitate twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;
• Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.

M Palestine and the Occupation University of Brighton – Eastbourne

Conference notes

continuance of illegal settlements, and impossibility of civil life, including education;
humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;
continued occupation complicity of most of the Israeli academy;
legal attempts to prevent UCU from debating a boycott of Israeli academic institutions;

affirms that criticism of Israel is not, eo ipso, anti-semitic;
a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions at this time is unlikely to maximize and unify international solidarity;
pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences

resolves that

colleagues be asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned;
twinning arrangements with Palestinian colleges be encouraged;
Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure;
personal tour testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE be disseminated widely.

N Palestine and the Occupation University of East London Docklands

Congress notes:
- continuation of illegal settlement, and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
- humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza;
- complicity of most of the Israeli academy;
- legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and legal advice that such debates are lawful.

Congress affirms that:
- criticisms of Israel are not, as such, anti-semitic;
- pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences.

Congress resolves that:
- colleagues are asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with their Israeli collaborators;
- twinning arrangements with Palestinian colleges should be encouraged;
- Ariel College and similar institutions in the Occupied Territories are illegal, and will be investigated under UCU’s Greylisting Procedure;
- testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and Britain will be disseminated to members.


Anonymous said...

Isn't anonymous brave reproducing other peoples writing without identifying him/herself.

I think in my university we call it plagiarism, in this case it is at least breach of copyright.

Anonymous could at least have the courage to name themselves.

I will call myself, for the time being

'Name withheld until anonymous fesses up'

Anonymous said...

I think it was an evil plot in the first place to put us in the middle of the Muslim world and use us as an unofficial offshoot for the interests of the west.And I think that the only way out of this situation is the one state solution, and making an apology to the Palestinians. Only once they are regulated as citizens and get all of the rights they deserve in a democratic, secular state, than the world will have nothing to hate us for. We can't live in cities we know are built on the ruins of Palestinian villages and truly say 'this is our land'... well, history had it's own rout - and we have to face the fact that a lot of what's now called 'Israel', was inhabited by a population that was expelled in brutal ways by our army, and today they live in inhuman conditions - at least partially in our fault and in our knowing....
Non dare call it Conspiracy....

Anonymous said...

It's a bit of a pain to scroll past all of Mr. Anonymous' attempts above, to turn your blog into a pro-Palestinian propaganda platform.

I suggest you delete those long Israel-bashing propaganda posts. They're off-topic in any case.

Anonymous said...

All six Jewish staff members, including my wife and I, were bullied out of our positions. There are NO Jews left in my former department.

UCU took NO ACTION to support me in pursuing a Tribunal claim.

We were threatened with and eventually subjected to deportation from the UK because we lost our work permits.

Before being sacked, and knowing that I would lose my work permit, I sought help from UCU, and they refused, saying that they'd not help until AFTER I was dismissed, at which point it would be too late to stay in the UK to fight back.

So I hired my own lawyers, then UCU refused to help on the grounds that I had sought outside legal advice.

Then when I briefly resigned my membership from UCU following the pro-Boycott vote around June 2006, they refused me further assistance, though I had withdrawn my resignation, never having stopped paying dues, after a few days on the word of the Gen. Sec., who promised that the boycott would not be honored when NATFHE and AUT merged.

This time, their reason for not providing assistance was that there was a "gap" in my membership around the time of my dismissal. Could it be that the REAL reason was that I publicly and LOUDLY resigned in protest of the anti-Semitic boycott vote and they decided that I 'needed to be punished?'

The most recent postings on the UCU Activists list and distribution of hateful Nazi propanda from David Duke, with whom I'm VERY familiar, since I come from the US are the LAST STRAW!. A friend who was a student at LSU with Duke in the 70s told me that he (Duke) used to turn up in FULL Nazi regalia on campus!

I believe the ONLY option remaining is a major class action LAWSUIT against UCU.

I suggest we organize NOW to make it happen before it is too late.

Anyone interested in pursuing this can send e-mail to me at:-