April 05, 2014

Robert Fine, BDS and the right of reply

I have written about this Robert Fine character before here.  He's a sociology professor at Warwick University in the UK. 

He had a piece in the European Sociological Association newsletter some time ago where he flagrantly misrepresented the EUMC working definition of antisemitism and likened its opponents to the racists who opposed the Race Relations Act back in the 1960s and 70s.

I was particularly angry and perplexed about how so dishonest an operator could get his dishonesty published without caveat or counter-argument.  Now, thanks to Ben White, I know.

See Middle East Monitor where Ben is writing about how Robert Fine was recently humiliated in a debate on BDS when his anti-BDS argument presumably contributed to the fact that the votes for and against BDS moved from 53-27 to 68-23.  Not only is Ben pointing up Fine's defeat, he is also pointing out how the Israel advocacy crowd are promoting Fine's argument in the absence of counter-argument:
This is not the first time that Fine has embarrassed himself with a disingenuous anti-boycott argument. In the Winter 2012 issue of the European Sociologist, the newsletter of the European Sociological Association (ESA), Fine repeated the same misrepresentations and omissions.

When I approached the editors about contributing a response piece, the offer was welcomed with open arms. My finalised, editor-approved piece was sent to Fine to give him the opportunity to comment -and then, silence. Months later, the editor informed me that "the editorial committee have chosen not to publish your contribution as it does not meet the standards accepted by our organisation". The co-chair of the ESA's Committee for Publications? Robert Fine.
So that's how he avoids counter-argument.  He co-chairs or advisorily edits the sites and publications that publish his disingenuous hasbara.

Or maybe not.  His losing argument has been posted in two parts to the Sociology@Warwick blog. (Part II here).  There is a comment space beneath the posts and I have tried posting one beneath each part thus:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Here’s Jonathan Rosenhead’s argument in favour of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel:
Here is Ben White’s corrective to Robert Fine’s argument:
Here’s something by me on Robert Fine’s approach to these matters:
 Fine's piece on Sociology@Warwick was actually posted by,  or Alexander Smith, who tweets here, https://twitter.com/AlexTTSmith. Robert Fine appears to neither blog nor tweet. Mr Smith's tweets are protected but I have tried tweeting him to get him to approve my links to some counter-argument against Fine's stuff:

Let's see how it goes.  I ought to say, I don't even know if Mr Smith is the moderator but given Fine seems only to post in places where he can't be argued against I don't hold out much hope for even links to counter-argument to appear where he has chosen his own stuff to appear.

UPDATE (10:42 6 April 2014):  Sociology@Warwick  has now approved the comments linking to criticisms of Robert Fine's two parter.  I wonder if the European Sociological Association newsletter will ever do the same.  Anyway, many thanks to whoever tweets at @SocioWarwick.

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