The campaign to exclude people who work at Israeli universities – and only them - from the global academic community is being pushed hard this week, for the 7th year running, by a small coterie of antizionists in the University and College Union.
One thing we have learnt in that five years is that whenever this campaign is pushed, antisemitic rhetoric, tropes, images and jokes are not far behind.
The following comes from Arieh Kovler of the Fair Play Campaign from UCU Congress in Bournemouth:
BRICUP, the British organisation behind the boycott of Israeli academics, held a fringe meeting at UCU Congress yesterday in Bournemouth.
The official speakers took up most of the time, but there was time for a few questions from the audience. Of course, these ‘questions’ were really statements from the various pro-boycott attendees.
One of these was Sean Wallis, UCL UCU branch secretary. He wanted to speak about how UCU should debate a boycott whether it’s legal or not. One of the threats he mentioned was from lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.”
The remark elicited a few sniggers, though not the outright laughter of an earlier joke by Haim Bresheeth about Israeli friendly fire casualties.
Now, a popular conspiracy theory circulating online claims that Jews transferred $400 billion out of Lehman Brothers to untraceable bank accounts in Israel, a couple of days before Lehman filed for bankruptcy. This lie first appeared on a website run by the Barnes Review, an American ‘revisionist’ organisation with a particular interest in Holocaust denial, and spread on various right-wing anti-Zionist websites.
It is not entirely obvious what Mr Wallis is referring to by claiming that legal threats against UCU are funded by “bank balances from Lehmann Brothers that can’t be tracked down.” Perhaps he could clarify his remarks.
Update – see Harry’s Place for Sean Wallis’ non-refuting denial.
Update 2 – more from Harry’s Place, further to correspondence with Sean Wallis. Sean Wallis “doesn’t seem to appreciate that antisemitic theories are antisemitic because they spread poisonous lies about Jews, not because they’re authored by “a racist right winger”.”
There was not due to be any debate on any other international issue at this Congress – only debate about the exclusion of Israelis and a one-sided and ahistorical discussion of Palestine. The NEC slipped in a last minute emergency motion relating to Colombia so that the union could not be accused of singling out Israel.
There is nothing on Sri Lanka.
There is nothing on Darfur.
There is nothing on Iraq.
There is nothing on Afghanistan.
There is nothing on Zimbabwe.
There is nothing on Russia.
There is nothing on China.
The only boycott campaigned for is a boycott of Israelis.