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.
here
and here exposing the racist hate speech which masquerades as UCU solidarity activism).]

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Harry's Place and the Bullies of UCU

I once drew comfort from the assumption, erroneous as I now discover, that UCU's near-Stalinist modus operandi could safely be regarded as confined solely to the contained sphere of operation of UCU itself. Dangerous and damaging as that has proven to be for many union members, BBA's experience being by no means unique in this regard, I felt somehow relieved by the thought that such mechanisms of intimidation & silencing would have no traction outside the fascist organization which UCU risks becoming, oh so insistently, compulsively even (to the point that my caveat of a conditional there - through the notion of risk - ought not really to be there but, hey, only BBA here, still, whatever remains there, and I'll do caveats, the lot, naturally falling back into the patterns of denial which gets one dwelling by the swamp, and then to continue, often flailing helplessly as now...).

Well, how wrong I have turned out to be. For it would appear that people at UCU are not content merely to muzzle the majority of the most effective and trenchant of the anti-boycotters who, as members of this union, have been forced to expend vast quantities of time and energy responding to the vile bile which passes for solidarity within our union, silenced (e.g.) for nothing other than their valiant efforts to stem the virulent antisemitism which has been allowed to become rife in UCU. No, now it would appear that UCU or, at the very least, people closely connected with it and its racist boycott campaign, have set the net far wider still and are presently engaging in their usual threats and tactics of intimidation, only this time it's out there in public, in full view, for all to see, and not merely behind closed academic doors, as has happened to date, in the deepest and most frightening secrecy imaginable, courtesy of UCU HQ, apparently adamant to protect none but the racists.

Today, it's not just us handful of beleaguered academics who emerge black & blue from the experience. No, now it's this whole wide world of a web of ours which is rendered vulnerable to the bullying ways of the boycotters. Today, Harry's Place has been taken down for nothing at all, nothing but the shedding of some light on the goings on within UCU and the racist filth which passes for solidarity on the activists list (aka the Bigot's Playground).

More details to follow, when I know them, and no doubt on Harry's Place, as soon as it is up and running again, which I hope will be imminently; the less time the better, for this is a most dangerous precedent indeed. For now, here's what I could find: Modernity, with some background (and an update), which put me onto this link, amusingly named after the bully in question, and presently functioning as an ersatz Harry's Place while the real site is temporarily down.

I feel bound to break this silence into which I am ever having to retreat, such is the nature of my existence over here by the swamp, this mire of myriad monstrousness - the whole saga involving Harry's Place and the UCU bullies being but the latest example of what, in essence, happens constantly over at the Bigot's Playground. And it's a rather salutary example at that, in so far as it makes transparent what is usually more carefully & heavily obfuscated in - although invariably characteristic to - the style of argument (if it can be called argument) of a boycotter. And no doubt in this salutary property lies the real cause for Harry's Place having to fend off the bullies at present. I feel compelled to speak out today, even if these days I mostly find myself speechless again, beyond words, for I want to register my alarm at this very troubling development, which risks doing to the blogosphere what has been done to my union, which now functions solely as a reliable source for a most abominable hate-fest, thanks to union debates being conducted on terms which ensure that the only speech which ever gets protected is that of the racists.

Update - late the following day...
Phew!

7 comments:

Ben Cohen said...

My sentiments exactly.

Over on the Z Word blog ( http://blog.z-word.com/2008/08/more-on-harrys-place/), I'm highlighting this appeal from Francis Sedgemore ( http://sedgemore.com/2008/08/ucu-activists-muzzle-critical-bloggers/):

“This is gross violation of free speech, and a most disgraceful thing that the UCU activists concerned have done. It reflects very badly on the union as a whole, whether or not the action has official sanction. As a trades unionist I have made a formal complaint to the Trades Union Congress and UCU, and urge you to do likewise.

Brendan Barber
General Secretary
Trades Union Congress
telephone: 020 7636 4030
email: bbarber@tuc.org.uk

Dr Sally Hunt
General Secretary
Universities and Colleges Union
telephone: 020 7670 9729
email: shunt@ucu.org.uk

If an activist in a union that espouses anti-racism takes her information on world affairs from a known white supremacist, then it is in the public interest that this be made public knowledge.”

andy said...

Just when you though it couldn't get any worse - it does. Please somebody tell me I'm in a nightmare, and that i'm going to wake up any minute to find this whole thing is unreal.

A UCU activist linking to David Duke's website - I cannot believe that they did not know of this mans views before making posting on the UCU list.

Meanwhile I'll be contacting Sally Hunt for a response.

ModernityBlog said...

heart felt post, thanks for your support.

andy said...

Harry's Place is back now, and the world seems a saner place for it!

Anonymous said...

KEITH HAMMOND'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ACTIVISTS LIST

Date: Wed, September 19, 2007 1:47 pm

My name is Keith Hammond and I have just returned from Palestine. I stayed for one
month and talked to an endless aount of different people - including Israeli
academics. I have just joined this discussion facility and am anxious to give an
account of what I encountered whilst seeing all these people.

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 ... The
minute I tried to probe the fears of the Israelis I met the conversation moved into
something that I can only decribe as a dreadful mix of possibly real and totally
unreal anxieties about Europe in the past, Biblical history, contemporary Judaism,
work, land and the American dream ... These conversations were a gush of insecure
and often irrational stuff that I tried to understand. But I could not.

On the other hand everwhere I went on the West Bank I saw real suffering because of
the occupation. The IDF were everywhere - always there in some way or another ...
There was not one detail of Palestinian life that was not in pain because of the
occupation. There is no conflict out there that matters alongside of the
occupation. The occupation involves the constant destruction of schools, the
closing off of roads, checkpoints barriers and endless other obstacles. The
Palestinians do not hate anyone. They want to get on with their education and it is
impossible under the conditions of the occupation. Yet it has to be said, there are
only a handful of Israeli academics who speak up for Palestinian institutions when
they are being hammered - really physically hammered.

So as much as we academics argue about the wording of the boycott, the language of
the resolution and so forth, real suffering continues and it has to be stopped.
That occupation has to be stopped - no one can disagree with that surely! The
boycott of Israeli institutions has to work like a glass of cold water being thrown
on the face of Israeli academics - it needs to wake them up and I am afraid to say
this but nothing other than a shock like this will bring them around to speaking out
about the occupation. They have to be made aware of their responsibilities as
academics ! People do listen to us - hence all this publicity about the boycott.
We have a voice - here, in Israel and the academics in Palestine. And we havce a
common responsibility to end this madness. If Israeli academics stand with the
Israeli war machine (which is just about out of control on the ground) then they
must be made to stand separately to academics everywhere else. They cannot expect
to take part in shared research programmes, journals, conferences and so forth.
Hopefully a boycott would wake them up !!! I think it would wake them up and this
is why I am sooooo pro-Boycott. But half measures will simply make a bad situation
worse.

The violence that I witnessed being inflicted on the Palestinians in their trying to
simply function was very hard to take. It has to be made public, to be discussed
and be discontinued. This is what I see the Boycott as all about ....

KH - Glasgow


Date: Wed, September 19, 2007 5:00 pm

Maybe we should just look at what is going on in Palestine with our own eyes and say
what the hell is going on here? What can we do to protect our Palestinian
colleagues who are arrested at checkpoints, pulled out of their houses at night and
just stopped from going about their rightful work by the ISRAELI OCCUPATION !!!

What is happening out there is horrendous - and at root the cause is an occupation -
are we for or against it? What is going on here?

Date: Sat, September 22, 2007 12:24 pm

Hello colleagues,

Most will see my name and realise that I have only just joined this discussion
group. It is an important group, and for me it engages discussion that carries
responsibilities. The responsibilities for me are heavy because each year I visit
Palestine. I thus experience the horror of the man-made situation in Palestine
which can never really be described on the page without something essential being
bleached out for our sanities sake ... There is only so much that can be conveyed
with words. I think the situation which has gone on for forty years is now so dark
it defies description - the wall, the checkpoints, the deprivation and health
conditions in the camps ... All this amount to a situation that is intolerable. In
Nablus death is so regular after incursions that the dead Palestinians just have to
be got into the ground as quickly as possible and rarely do those killed by the IDF
get a martyrs burriel ...

So the first point I want to make is that the occupation is unbearable; and it has
to end. This seems to me to be the first thing we have to agree upon - and keep
agreeing - keep affirming - never mind details about terminology. If we do not keep
doing this we let something go and something go and the discussion slides waway. So something has to be done to stop this madness.

Israel's academics are totally at one with the occupation. (The reasons for this
are not that they are monsters. But Israeli academics service the occupation in
endless ways - all do service in the IDF in one way or another but their main
contribution is much more perbicious. Israeli academics are still academics and so
are going to be able to dodge and weave their way away around all this with ease -
indeed they have to for the sake of their own peace of mind! We work with Israeli
academics. We have an influence upon them as they have an influence upon us ... So
possibilities exist for influencing one another that has to extend into the future -
the way we go on. And of course we are all adults and we know that influence is
not always a matter of sitting down with people in the corner of a library and
saying "look here your treatment of the Palestinians is not acceptable". If this
were the case then we would not be in the fortieth year of the occupation and having
these discussions about the boycott action. Forty years have led up to the point we
are at now ! So we have to communicate the unacceptability of the occupation in
another way ... And it has to be said that the boycott has been a very powerful way
of communicating ... It is because the message is going out loud and clear that we
are having all these discussions about details - how do the conditions in the Aida
camp square with the conditions of the Warsaw ghetto etc ...

We are academics and we are going to do all this stuff, but to go back to my
original point, we have to keep affirming our basic position that I am sure almost
all of us believe to be valid - this occupation is barbaric and it has to stop.
Discussion about terms, descriptions, balanced approaches to 'punisment' and so
forth is useful but I reckon the real task is winning a campaign amongst our fellow
academics that expresses the Palestinian reality saying we must now make this
boycott stick ... If the boycott is not 100% then it will communicate nothing to
the Israelis except that they are doing nothing wrong ! And I reckon they will even
worse things and we will in some way have played a part in things getting worse.
Every one of us involved in this group knows there is something of huge signifance
at issue in Israel's presence on the West Bank ... We either face up to that and
set an example as peole who care about our humanity or we do not ... If we do not
then lets come clean ! My feeling is that we all care very much ... But my worry is
that vacilation - over whatevr details - will be fatal !

I hope all this does not not sound too Vanessa Redgrave but I reckon there are huge
issues involved in our support for Palestine.

All best wishes to everyone, Keith


Date: Sun, September 23, 2007 1:57 pm

Jimmy

Your response worries me a little - you start out by agreeing but then switch to
agreeing about a boycott "in name" but "not in action" ... This worry takes me
right back to why I posted the original message. Palestine is not a game ! Of
course there are arguments to be made and a lot of listening to be done ... But the
arguments have to be made on the basis that they are right and that action - at some
point - has to be taken to communicate British academics feelings about the unjust
occupation. I just do not see how we can take our eye off the the ball because
Ttere are real people involved working in real universities. Palestine is occupied
and the IDF are not stood at checkpoints with guns for nothing. What I think you
are saying however isthat the membership have to be won over to the boycott for
anything real to follow - and of course this requires words and so on ... But I
just worry about all this vague stuff ... Establishing a pro-Boycott position
withion the membership involves much more than asking people what they want the
union to do ... though again the membership voice has to be in there in anything
real that follows from a campaign ...

But a one point we as a union are going to have to some eyeball to eyeball stuff
with our counterparts in Israel and the message has to be got over that the
occupation has to end ... if Israeli academics think otherwise then let them say so
in the international press ... Lets tease them out !

Date: Sun, September 23, 2007 2:11 pm

Nick ...

Spot on ... but first we have to stick our heads above the parapet ... As I might
have mentioned, I was in Beit Jalla in august and I met with Canadian and American
academics - I do not claim they represented anything ... - but they were very eager
to see some respected organisation set the standard and start making the arguments
that could then be taken up more internationally. Canada has started to move and so
have a tiny group in Germany - the Germans have been held back with a historical
guilt that has really crippled debate.

I have only just started getting involved really but I reckon so many people in
British universities have done incredibly well to get things going ... Now however
the eyes are on us and everyone is waiting to see who blinks first ... but you know
something has been started and it has set a fine example. This needs to be
broadened and deepened in the union ...

Date: Wed, September 26, 2007 7:59 pm

Hello everyone,

Whatever we say about rights and so forth we have to face up to the fact that it is
the whole HE system in Israel that supports the military occupation of Palestine.
It is not about good people and bad people ... and some people disrespecting rights.
The Palestinians are getting it in the kneck day in and day out. And there must be
Israeli academics who just go along with the way that their istitutions support the
military and maybe the boycott would give them a chance to think things through and
oppose their system. And I really do see the boycott as a "wake up" call ...

When courses are arranged in Arabic for the IDF they are not arranged on the basis
of individual people - support in all kinds of ways is given by the system out
there. It is their system that works for the occupation ... institution by
institution ...

People like Pappe had a tough time because of the system. Has he removed himself
now ? Anyhow it is this dreadful system d that puts everyone at risk because
violence just creates this constant appetite for more violence ...

My feeling is that the boycott says in very clear terms "hold on" ... step back and
think about what is being continued here. And this is why the boycott has to stick
... It is such a hopeful move for everyone. Vacilating just feeds this cycle of the
same.

My worry is that we need to make it bite ... And I can see why some people edge
their bets in this discussion group but like so many who know Palestine and take
part in this discussion I fear that the violence is really going to continue ...
and get worse so that it goes even deeper into the Israeli system and becomes even
more difficult to discontinue. The longer it is all allowed to just go on the more
difficult it gets to break ...

And I really do think that if people are against the boycott then they should say so
and argue their point - clearly. If they are bothered about rights then why not
speak up for the Palestinians rights ? Do they not count in all this or is it just
our pay that matters ?

Everyone has agreed that the occupation and killing of Palestinians has to stop.
There was a decision taken and I think it was a very good decision based on a really
principled position of opposition to the occupation that asserts our boycott of
their institutions / universities or whatever .... My worry is that we really
should be thinking about making it work now ...

If we abandon our friends in Palestine then what does that make us ?

Date: Thu, September 27, 2007 4:19 pm

Everyone

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.

Date: Mon, October 1, 2007 11:50 am

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 ...

Date: Tue, October 2, 2007 1:50 pm

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 ...

Date: Tue, October 2, 2007 3:05 pm

I never argued anything of the sort and well you know it !

But it does show how everything is read by some people. It is ugly !!! And I do
not know why it is inflicting on everyone on this list ... I suppose we are all
used to it but it is sad.


Date: Thu, October 4, 2007 4:35 pm

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.

Date: Fri, October 5, 2007 7:50 pm

David ...

Pleaseeeeeeee .... Stop twisting my words in this hysterical way ! It is obscene
and completely OTT ... There are people trying grasp a very big issue here. Your
'contribution' merely obstructs that process ... Anyone who wishes to see what i
said can look at what I said ...

Date: Mon, October 8, 2007 12:47 pm

Ariel,

Why do you not look up Orwell ! Then you can interpret Orwell for the entire union
and tell everyone what he "really" meant to say ! please take as long as you want.
Just make sure your interpretation is accurate - there's a good fellow.

Mark,

As far as I know - and Ariel may correct me - the union came into being -
historically -because of the political will of those who came to be its members.
The law has never operated on behalf of unions has it? Though of course I
personally would hate to see anyone coming on the wrong side of the law. There are
currently around 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Many of these
people are held on 'administrative' charges - so they get no court hearing.
Academics can be picked up at checkpoints simply because they have said something
accoding to someone and they are whisked off to jail - usually in Israel - which is
again against international law which says they cannot be taken out of the occupied
state for imprisonment. Now clearly we should be talking about all this ... So you
are quite right.

My worry in all this is that we loose sight of what it is all about - our
Palestinian colleagues. it is a worry that events have gone the way that they have
and and that we are all arguing about what we do next ... But maybe this is all in
the order of things. Anyone or any organisation that stands with the Palestinian
people in trying to shake off the Israeli occupation definitely invites the kind of
experiences that have come our way in the past few weeks ... Surely there cannot be
any surprises in the way all this has gone? The important thing is to not foget
what we are trying to do.

And of course we should not stop discussing Palestine. Palestine is occupied ! It
has been occupied for forty years ! We see stories on the TV and so forth saying
the Israeli army took "defensive action" on this and that but there is never a
mention that Israel is occupying the West Bank with tanks and so on setting up its
700 checkpoints that have absolutely nothing to do with defence. Israeli academics
are happy with this situation and we over here in the UK are not. I do not believe
the Israelis are going to change their mind about the occupation until there is
clear action that communicates to them that we find it unacceptable. This does not
mean people should not actually go to Palestine. There is a piece in the British
Medical Journal (7th October 2007) by a Registrar in Manchester - Asad Khan - "Go
and see the truth for yourself. I did". Look at it on
http://bmj.com/egi/eletters/335/7611/124 - this is the add and not the link. You
will have to look it up yourselves. But this letter is very clear. The BMJ seem to
know what they are about.

They know that the Israeli occupation cannot go on .... it gets worse each day.

Date: Mon, October 8, 2007 2:15 pm

No David ... with respect why do you not answer a few questions for a change. Why
is it that supporters of Israel see themselves as being in such a privileged
position that they and they ask the questions and make all the demands?

As it is, it is Israel that has the tanks in Palestine, Israel that destroys
Palestinian houses day in and day out and Israel that establishes one illegal
settlement on the West Bank after another. It is Israel that holds 10,000
Palestinians in jails. So why should it be so unacceptable to you that trade
unionists should care about the suffering of the Palestinians in all this? What is
it you find so offensive about critiquing Israel's occupation of Palestine?

In this union there might be a lot of disagreement about what exactly we do next but
there seems to be very little defence of Israel. And there is an awful lot of
concern about the way Israeli universities go along with Israrl's barbarity.

So why do you not try answering a few questions huh ?

Date: Mon, October 8, 2007 3:10 pm

David ...

With respect, you have answered none of my questions ... Look again.


Date: Sat, November 24, 2007 12:59 pm

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

Date: Mon, November 26, 2007 3:49 pm

Everyone must be glued to the TV at the moment, watching the reports about the
Israeli-Palestine talks - dragging themselves away from the insights of some
postings on this facility about how we are becoming raging anti-Semites!!!!

Anyhow I just happened to be reading a wee bit of Edward Said (1986) on the above -
representations / burden and all that ... Said refers to a conversation between
Roosevelt and Kipling and notes:

"The frequent Israeli complaint that Palestinians will not recognize Israel (a
falsehood) that Israel is surrounded by hostility, that the world is experiencing a
new wave of anti-Semitism - all these aggravate the almost Swiftian irony of this
situation. To add also the view of leading American Zionists that television
representations of the Israeli destruction of Lebanon in 1982 were tantamount to
anti-Semitism and a failure of nerve in Western civilization, this is to leave the
world of cruel reality for a paranoid universe of utter derangement".

Lots of derangement on some of these postings. I just wonder what it is all about
sometimes. Of course we should be discussing the boycott ... it is right and just
that Israeli institutions should be reminded that they cannot stay quiet on what is
now happening in Gaza. It is horrendous. We have to stand up for these people and
trying to get our Israeli colleagues see sense seems to me to be the only right
thing to do ... Let the mad people rant on ... The boycott just will not go away !
Why should it ...


Date: Mon, November 26, 2007 5:23 pm

I am sorry ... I should have given the full reference:

THE BURDEN OF INTERPRETATION AND THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

Edward Said

Journal of Palestinian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 29-37

I got the paper from my library e-journals : J-STOR

What is really good about this paper is that it shows so much of what is being said
on this facility has been the standard pat for yonks ... I think the paper is also
interesting just from the point of view of negotiations ...

What is worrying for me right now however is the way that Gaza is due to get the
power cut off at the beginning of December and they are running out of essential
medicines ... surely this cannot be allowed to happen ?


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


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 intructive. 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


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


I note that in the 14th May 1948 Proclamation of Independence it declared:

'The State of Israel ... will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the principles of liberty, justice and peace as conceived by the Prophets of Israel; will uphold full social and political equality of all its citizens (!); without distinction of religion, race, sex; will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, education and culture; will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and will loyally uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter'

But then almost a year later Chaim Weizmann, the first President wrote:

'I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs'

And then later still David Ben Gurion wrote,

'The State of Israel will be judged not by its wealth or military strength nor by its technology, but by its moral worth and human values' ... Indeed.

Has everyone heard that Norman Finklestein is not being allowed into Israel on his way to the West Bank? Apparently he is being held right now and will be deported tomorrow ... a fine business.

Keith Hammond


Now I am here in Palestine and there is a military occupation ! I show my passport at least five or six times a day to the military here.
Sometimes we are hawled of buses and questioned for simply going a few miles up the road. What all this means is students have to go through several checkpoints like Hawara a couple of times each day as they go to and from University. They never know whether they are going to make it to class or get home home at the end of class. Parents never know if
they are going to see their children at the end of the day. Do you know what that is like David ? The best that can happen to these students is that they stand in line under the hot sun at the checkpoint for a couple
of hours and then have the same old sneers from Israeli soldiers ...
Now in these circumstances what can meaningful dialogue be about except
ending the occupation and all that goes with it ... Is that so
challenging ? Please tell me because I am here in the middle of this
occupation and I am telling you that this will end ! So what should I
sign to get this huh ?

Keith Hammond
20 August 2008 18:30 +0500


From: "Keith Hammond" k.hammond@...
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2008 21:58:07 +0100
X-Message-Number: 3

James,

What your contributions always add up to is that Israel and its denial of Palestine and the Palestinians is not a unique case. There are many other situations in the world just like Israel ? So your strategy is to show there is suffering and injustice all over the place and we academics not there boycott poor old Israel elsewhere. But you never actually succeed in this argument. Why? Could it really be that Israel constitutes a unique case? So you pick some feature of the Israeli situation and then say the logic is that there should thus be many boycotts ? Or better still no boycott proposal at all! You allude to something along the lines that like cases should be treated alike ? But Zionism is completely unique. Its denials are unique – Israel even denies that it is about an occupation and therefore not compelled to follow international law as it applies to occupations. I think you jump the gun if you will excuse the phrase. Zionism is a completely different to so many other cases of injustice. Nothing comes near to it. I am not going to spell out the nuts and bolts of the case - just go through all the UN documents that detail the situation. There is no NGO that has a remotely good word for Israel. Its treatment of the Palestinians and strategy of squeezing the Palestinians off their land with settlements and now the wall is beyond anything we have experienced to date ... thank goodness.

I have just returned from Palestine and the horrors that are the everyday experience of the Palestinians is beyond representation. All these easy rhetorical games that you play are obscene. For me they just endorse the denials. You want the game to play a game and that is your right. But the Palestinians have rights that are denied constantly. Indeed the denial of Palestinian rights (individually and collectively) violates international law on a number of counts. Just think of it … forty years of occupation that has got worse every year. Think of where the Palestinians were in the 1930s and where they are now, living in camps behind concrete walls - Bethlehem ! There are around nine and a half thousand Palestinians in Isaraeli jails - women and children. 2000 children have been killed in the last eight years. They let 200 out of jail to show us how sensitive Israeli policies are then they round up another 250 that same night. Do these atrocities mean nothing to a civilised chap like yourself? We have freedoms in the trade union movement that have had to be won in some horrendous conflicts. So we should use those freedoms in any non-violent way to support colleagues in Palestine. I know … You think we should do nothing huh ?

I want to reiterate that Zionism is particular project that has to be stopped. It is poison. Do you think this poison is acceptable ? I know ... You thibnk all of us who oppose Zionism are misunderstood huh ?

I cannot believe you are so confused … I know you are going give some inspiring answer to this posting and so I cannot wait to see what you come up with next ?

Keith

Subject: RE: What UCU is al about.
From: “Keith Hammond” k.hammond@…
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:35:03 +0100
X-Message-Number: 14
Hi everyone,
I understand Jenna is getting a lot of hate mail - horrendous phone calls and all sorts of stuff … She made a mistake with a posting that she tried to rectify it … And it was all on this Dan facility. But her name is all over the place I understand and she does not deserve this kind of treatment … What is said on this list should stay on the list but it does not …
I hope you are noting this Matt ?
Keith

From: "Keith Hammond" k.hammond@...
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2008 15:48:50 +0100
X-Message-Number: 8

Hi everyone,

Members might be interested in looking at the allegations made against the Union on Engage. The piece is headed:

Why break UCU confidences now - David Hirsh

See what you think ? And this is what some people want to be admitted back onto Dan ? Jenna's case is totally different to this sort of persistent and intentional rubbish ... I also understand there is stuff in the Jerusalem Post ? I keep wondering if some people are well ...

Keith

Anonymous said...

interesting.

I love this

"..is embedded in the
Israeli obsession with war as some sort of 'defence' against who knows what"

How about suicide bombers?

What a shower.

Anonymous said...

YET ANOTHER PRO-BOYCOTT UCU ACTIVIST

From the distance of a few thousand miles I was amused to read recently on the aptly misnamed Socialist Unity [http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=2766#comments] site that the case for an academic boycott of Israel had been made and won. Apparently this was because posters on the activists’ list have ‘generally been patient, nuanced and well informed’. Some of these posters are said to have ‘long records of opposition to anti-Semitism, racism and fascism’. I’m sure that this must be true of several individuals. Indeed, I’m glad about that. But sadly it can not be true of all those who want to boycott Israeli academics.

I know that it is difficult to avoid mentioning Jenna Delich’s name, even after she turned litigious, emailing a reporter on the Jewish Chronicle: "If you or anyone else mention my name or anything to do with me anywhere in the media or a public place, I will sue." [http://thejc.com/articles/charities-not-being-open-enough%E2%80%99?q=node/4872]. What with Delich’s legal threats and Harry’s Place being temporarily taken down, it leaves the pro-boycott argument that the ‘Zionists’ shut down debate looking pretty thin. Not to mention that if the ‘Israelis’ supposedly control the media then they must be losing their touch.

Anyway, now that Delich is the internet equivalent of fish and chip paper (though she’ll find disposing of the stories a lot more difficult) it’s time to move on.

Enter Keith Hammond. I would suggest that his contributions to the list have been neither patient, nuanced or well informed. Here’s some examples.

‘I am sooooo pro-Boycott’; ‘But here we gooooo’; ‘Pleaseeeeeeee .... Stop twisting my words in this hysterical way! It is obscene and completely OTT’; ‘I hope all this does not sound too Vanessa Redgrave’.

Hammond also specialises in personal attacks (no doubt his defenders will note the irony of this post). Here he is again.

‘This is a brilliant union and this online facility is brilliant – even if people like Eve do not like honest concerns being expressed’ [that’s Eve Garrard, who has since resigned from the Union (http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2008/07/resignation-letter-by-eve-garrard.html)]

‘And then towards the end of your contribution [Eve] 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 !!!!’

‘David’s concerns for equality are encouraging. But they are twisted - as so many of the contributions moving around his politics of denial ... These people were clear; they did not twist things in this horrible way that has now become the standard for David’s statements.’

‘Lots of derangement on some of these postings. I just wonder what it is all about sometimes ... Let the mad people rant on ... The boycott just will not go away!’

‘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’

‘Members might be interested in looking at the allegations made against the Union on Engage. The piece is headed: Why break UCU confidences now – David Hirsh.
See what you think? And this is what some people want to be admitted back onto Dan? Jenna [Delich]’s case is totally different to this sort of persistent and intentional rubbish ... I keep wondering if some people are well’

It’s also worth pointing out that ‘of course’ Hammond thinks ‘there are arguments to be made and a lot of listening to be done ... But the arguments have to be made on the basis that they are right’.

Here’s the substance.

1) Hammond equates Nazi treatment of Jews with Israeli treatment of Palestinians:

‘the conditions in the Aida camp square with the conditions of the Warsaw ghetto’
(22 September 2007)

2) Hammond compares Israel with South Africa under apartheid

‘what was fascinating about [Mark] 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.’

3) Hammond regards 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 ... The minute I tried to probe the fears of the Israelis I met the conversation moved into something that I can only describe as a dreadful mix of possibly real and totally unreal anxieties about Europe in the past, Biblical history, contemporary Judaism, work, land and the American dream ... These conversations were a gush of insecure and often irrational stuff that I tried to understand. But I could not’
(19 September 2007)

‘Israel's academics are totally at one with the occupation’
(22 September 2007)

‘the whole HE system in Israel that supports the military occupation of Palestine.’
(26 September 2007)

4) Hammond opposes what he sees as the influence of a Zionist lobby

‘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?’
(2 October 2007)

‘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).’
(4 October 2007)

‘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?’
(8 October 2007)

‘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.’
(24 November 2007)

‘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.’

5) Hammond believes antisemitism is little more than a ‘tactic' used by "Zionists" in bad faith to silence debate

‘[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.’
(23 September 2007)

‘What is interesting however is that the same old tactics are employed. Israel claims to be a Jewish state THEREFORE anyone who criticises 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’
(1 October 2007)

‘Everything put forward in good faith gets distorted by David H. 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)

‘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’; ‘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.’
(26 November 2007)

6) Hammond thinks that ‘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.’

So it really came as no surprise when Hammond recently posted:

‘What your contributions always add up to is that Israel and its denial of Palestine and the Palestinians is not a unique case. There are many other situations in the world just like Israel? So your strategy is to show there is suffering and injustice all over the place and we academics not there boycott poor old Israel elsewhere. But you never actually succeed in this argument. Why? Could it really be that Israel constitutes a unique case? So you pick some feature of the Israeli situation and then say the logic is that there should thus be many boycotts? Or better still no boycott proposal at all! You allude to something along the lines that like cases should be treated alike? But Zionism is completely unique. Its denials are unique – Israel even denies that it is about an occupation and therefore not compelled to follow international law as it applies to occupations. I think you jump the gun if you will excuse the phrase. Zionism is a completely different to so many other cases of injustice. Nothing comes near to it. I am not going to spell out the nuts and bolts of the case – just go through all the UN documents that detail the situation. There is no NGO that has a remotely good word for Israel. Its treatment of the Palestinians and strategy of squeezing the Palestinians off their land with settlements and now the wall is beyond anything we have experienced to date ... thank goodness.’

‘I want to reiterate that Zionism is particular project that has to be stopped. It is poison. Do you think this poison is acceptable? I know ... You think all of us who oppose Zionism are misunderstood huh? I cannot believe you are so confused …’
(26 August 2008)

I don’t know why, but another quotation came to mind. This was about a fanatic’s ‘merciless opposition to the world-poisoner of all peoples’. He, however, did not call it ‘Zionism’ but ‘International Jewry’.

Still, at least so far Hammond has not brought up the French Revolution, Bolsheviks, Freemasons or Rotary Clubs.

Unlike these guys [http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/documents/charter.html].