June 25, 2006

John Pike: an apology

I must tender a heart felt apology to one of the doyen's of Engage. My disgrace began simply enough. I did a post on David Hirsh's response to a Guardian article on how the zionist anti-boycott campaign actually backfired. In the post I referred to the fact that over 15,000 hostile emails had come from three organisational sources. Well a chap (I think it's a chap) called "Bennett" queried the use of the word "hostile." I dealt with that query (or quibble as I actually called it).

Then a chap calling himself "Alf Green" came along with a comment supporting David Hirsh's artcle. Go check what he said. Well in my response I inadvertently came close to accusing one of the Engage founders, Jon Pike, of having the integrity to describe Engage as a "bit over the top." I wasn't entirely certain, as I made clear in the comment, but I was fairly certain. In fact here's the relevant bit (relevant to what? don't ask. Alf Green thinks it's a big deal):
Also I noticed recently, John Pike saying that sometimes Engage is "a bit over the top." Something like that. I think he may have meant the same as me only from a different perspective obviously.
I even thought it was in the context of (the now defunct) NATFHE's boycott vote. So up pops this Bennett character again asking for quote and context. So, against my better judgment (I swear some zionists think it's their patriotic duty just to waste anti-zionists' time) I delved into the Engage Forum. Horror! Can't find the quote. So now I've got to look into the even more ridiculous Engage comments. Found it! Only it's not what I said. It's this:
The argument was about academic freedom, consistency and McCarthyite political tests. Loads, really loads, really the vast majority of British academics think this stuff is just stupid. Lots aren't, I'm afraid, in the union, lots don't think the union should posture on international matters, lots support the Palestinians in some sense, but think the boycott is just dumb. Probably a fair few think that ENGAGE is a bit over the top.
Now what he said wasn't a million miles from what I said he said. I mean look at it. He makes four clear statements of fact.
1. the vast majority of British academics think this stuff is just stupid

2. Lots aren't, I'm afraid, in the union

3. lots don't think the union should posture on international matters

4. lots support the Palestinians in some sense, but think the boycott is just dumb
The fifth statement is not one of fact but conjecture:
Probably a fair few think that ENGAGE is a bit over the top
It's the word "probably" that suggests that Jon Pike is conjecturing here. Now why would he do that if he didn't think Engage was "a bit over the top" himself?

So here's my next comment replying to Bennett:
Aha - what he actually said was "Probably a fair few think that ENGAGE is a bit over the top." The reference was to how academics feel about Engage. I assumed that he thought that because it was his own view. Maybe I was wrong but then I allowed for that when I said "Something like that."

It's here: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/b...ment.php?
id=466


Why are you so interested in minutiae? David Hirsh (a doyen of the anti-boycott movement) has been exposed many times now as distorting and misrepresenting articles that anyone can read and you want to quibble over the meaning of "hostile" and a throwaway line by Jon Pike.
And back comes Alf Green to firm up on the fact that I was wrong, point out that I had admitted I was wrong and provide the link that I had already provided whilst pointing out that I had already provided the link.

So there we have it. I thought Jon Pike had uttered a slight criticism of Engage when he just assumed that "probably a fair few [academics] think that ENGAGE is a bit over the top." So apologies to Jon Pike and to all of you who think I shouldn't get bogged down in these petty squabbles arising out of the comments facility here.

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