June 01, 2007

More boycott, well actually, anti-boycott news

Charlie Pottins is an angry young man (especially for his age!). He's cross because he thinks there might be a veracity issue with champion in the struggle against the rampant antisemitism that pervades UK society and college campuses in particular (bit of a mouthful), Dr David Hirsh. Here's an email from Charlie to the Just Peace UK list:
The Universities and Colleges Union has voted to circulate the Palestininian call for a boycott of Israeli universities within the union; to ask members to consider the moral implications of working with Israeli institutions, to invite a delegation from Palestinian unions, and to strengthen links with Palestinian higher education.

Nowhere in the resolution that I saw before the UCU conference was there any call for boycotting individual Israelis, and the mover of the resolution is quoted in the press as saying it is not aimed against any individuals.

Out of curiosity I turned to the Engage website and found these doughty defenders of "academic freedom" claiming: "UCU Congress has today voted for a roadshow touring colleges and universities drumming up support for an exclusion of Israelis - and only
Israelis - from our campuses, our conferences and our journals. The union is mandated to finance this tour and to stack the debate in favour of a pro-boycott outcome".

This is signed by David Hirsh, founder of Engage, and lecturer at Goldsmiths College in London. According to his logic, some of the people who have campaigned for a boycott would be excluding themselves from campuses, as they happen to be Israelis!

I ask whether a person who so deliberately misinterprets the facts and distorts what people are saying is really fit to be teaching in an institution of higher education, let alone to be a member of the academics union?

No wonder Hirsh was so angry when I suggested some time ago that he was trying to frighten the kinder. (his response was to complain that I had used a Yiddish expression!) He treats his own audience and supporters with contempt, and insults their intelligence, but I guess they must deserve it.

Incidentally, to the credit of some academics in Israel, I see they were asking whether Israel can object to a boycott while it boycotts Palestinian students - they cited the case of 10 students from Gaza who were not permitted to cross to the West Bank to attend a course in Occupational Therapy, something that is not provided in the Gaza area. Only a little instance, which might be frustrating for the students but will not attract publicity from our media or be sufficiently important for our defenders of "academic freedom" to become outraged about.

Just as the Israeli authorities can decide who travels to, and within, occupied Palestine, so they feel confident to decide what goes on here, at least for Jews. One reaction to the UCU conference was from an Israeli minister saying he would call for a freeze on donations to British universities by Jewish businessmen. I trust we will all know our duty when the Israeli minister gives instructions?

UCU members can expect a witch-hunt and hysteria, orchestrated not just from Israel but from the much worse lobbyists in the United States. I'm sure they can take it. But do they need a witch-hunting fanatic in their midst?. It's bad enough having the 'leadership' of Sally Hunt.
I can't be bothered to leaf through Engage to find the actual post that Charlie is complaining of so I'll get a link from him later but have a browse round the Engage site. If you're anti-zionist your heart will swell. If I was a zionist I'd swear the movement had been infiltrated by agents provocateurs trying to undermine the anti-boycott movement.

Meanwhile, Dr Hirsh is known to be an avid monitor of this site and the Just Peace UK list so I wonder if or how he'll respond to Charlie's post.

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