Michael Cushman and the Jew-free UCU Congress

Michael Cushman

Michael Cushman

Mike Cushman is one of the leaders of the boycott campaign in UCU.  In the past he has pushed antisemitic conspiracy theory.   He has defended union members who passed material from David Duke’s website around the union.  He has rhetorically employed antisemitic stereotypes.   He has been feted by the Iranian state propaganda machine.  He has fawned over Hamas.

Now Cushman has provided the following breathless commentary of events at yesterday’s UCU Congress debate:

“It was brilliant. The Zionists bareley showed up. John Pike was totally isolated. On the first vote about invetigsting institutional anti-semitism in UCU he got about 6 votes out of 350.”

“On the key motion there were only two speakers against Pike and a woman from Workers Liberty, when the president asked for other speakers against no-one put their hand up. The vote was on my estimate about 300-30 (we should have asked for a count to rub salt into the wound).”

“What we must remember this was a victory built not just on hard work but even more on 1400 murders in Gaza.”

“Mike, in haste from Bournemouth”

This commentary requires a little bit of unpacking.  Two years ago, at the first Congress of the newly merged UCU, there was a big, very tense, very nasty debate about the boycott.  Cushman kicked off the ‘debate’ that day by declaring that he was “not going to be intimidated” – and received a huge cheer for it.  What he meant, and what Congress understood, was that he was not going to be intimidated by Jewish power.  And Congress followed his lead and voted for a boycott, many delegates showing clear signs that they were collectively excited at the feeling that they were standing up to the Jews.  Sorry.  To the Zionists.  This 2007 Congress was a horrible Jew-baiting Congress and it voted for a boycott motion.  When somebody stood up and mentioned antisemitism that day he was howled down by the delegates.

The Jew-baiters in UCU had a de facto deal with the union leadership – which was to allow them their fun at Congress but on the condition that the union would not actually do anything at all to implement any boycott.

Two years later, yesterday, the atmosphere was different.  There was not much cheering and there was not much howling.

Why?  Because there were no Jews left to bait.  As Michael Cushman says above, “the Zionists barely showed up”.

The Chair of the Open University Branch showed up to make a case for debating whether to have a ballot.  Congress voted him down.

Jon Pike showed up to argue that Congress should ask the union leadership to find out why Jews are resigning from the union.  Congress said it didn’t want to find out why Jews are resigning from the union.

Camila Bassi showed up, a member of a small Trotskyist group, she made a brave Trotskyist speech against the boycott.  Congress voted her down.

But there were speeches against the boycott available for anyone who wanted them.  But there was nobody left to make them.

There were no Jews there to speak against the boycott.  “The Zionists barely showed up”.

The soft left faction of union activists, the “reasonablists”,  the people who had always said they were against the boycott, remained silent, except for Mary Davis’ procedural question.  Perhaps some of them had gone soft on the boycott.  Perhaps some of them were frightened of being made into pariahs in the union if they stood up against antisemitism.  Not one of them spoke.  Not one of them insisted on making their argument.

Michael Cushman is excited by his victory.  He hasn’t noticed the significance of the fact that Congress is now free of Jews.  Except for Jews like him, the Jews who speak “as a Jew” but  who are quite unable to recognize antisemitism.  Haim Bresheeth.  John Rose.  Michael Cushman.  These are the Jews now, at UCU Congress.

David Hirsh

220 Responses to “Michael Cushman and the Jew-free UCU Congress”

  1. James Mendelsohn Says:

    great post David

  2. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    As usual the SWP would-be boycotters claim it both ways. On Tuesday evening Sean Wallis claimed threats from lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.” Now Cushman says the ‘Zionists’ have lost interest.

    Either we are interested, or we aren’t. Which is it?

    In the Alice in Wonderland world of the SWP, it seems that logic plays no role. And these people are teaching our children …

  3. matt Says:

    thanks to John Pike’s efforts i’ve just rejoined UCU – i’m now leaving again and won’t be back. i guess were the UCU an otherwise more effective organisation there would be an incentive for more to stay and put up a fight – but they’re pretty useless anyhow so why bother?

    oh – and this one’s not a jew staying away, i just abhor antisemitism (“speaking as a non-jew”)

  4. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    And, of course, it doesn’t occur to Cushman (or perhaps he doesn’t care) that the next step, should Congress pass the boycott resolution and decide to ignore the “no action will be taken” advice to the Gen Sec. & President, will be his day in court. The fact that the legal advice and any subsequent court case that results from ignoring that advice could bankrupt the union (to say nothing of bankrupting the Trustees) seems to pass him by.

    Perhaps Cushman should be elected a Trustee of UCU?

    It also seems to pass him and his anti-Zionist cronies by that the next step will be a defunct union and the mass defection to a different or new one that might just refuse to let him enrol. Even if the union remains in existence, employers are already showing their preparedness for a fight with it – see Keele and the attack on social science there (disguised, of course, as an “economy measure”).

  5. EdwardT Says:

    UCU – Judenrein at last

    They must be very proud

  6. Ariel H Says:

    My thanks to Jon for representing us and standing up.

    David, were you consciously paraphrasing Martin Niemoller’s famous poem here – because that’s what it sounded like to me.

  7. Rosso Verde Says:

    isn’t it like throwing your toys out of the pram – if you think Cushman’s arguments are wrong then oppose them!

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Oh, you’re back are you, Red Green? With your usual lack of argument and equal lack of evidence. In case you hadn’t noticed, and you clearly haven’t or you wouldn’t be making such a fatuous comment, that’s _exactly_ what’s been happening here and all the way down the page, both in the articles and in the attached comments threads.

      You really are slow, RV: my comment above is timed at 11.18 (actually, 12.18, because the site’s clock hasn’t been adjusted for BST, and it’s now 1.40 pm by my watch), and since submitting it I’ve read all the way down the page _and_ managed to submit a couple of comments.

      Stop proving yourself such a dullard, RV.

      Let’s invert that: if you think Cushman’s arguments are so good, let’s have some argument and evidence in favour of them. UCU Congress is proving to be so depressing that we all do with a good laugh. And can we have argument and evidence, not just your usual collection of unsupported assertions, please.

  8. Oboler Says:

    Rosso, I think you missed the point. They did stand up and oppose them. They did call an emergency general meeting back in the AUT days. They did win the argument when it was put to the members at large. It’s not the Jews, the victims of this racism, who need to be alarmed, it is the grass roots of the union, and British society. It’s not good enough to leave minority groups to fight against racism… when racism takes over, it’s a problem for society.

    We’re left with three choices, either the union membership will wake up to the horror in their midst and take action, or those against racism (like Matt above) will make their own choice and leave and eventually a fairer union without the racists will emerge, or… the third possibility is that this really is the face of the British union movement in 2009. I hate to think what the future holds if our academic are at heart a class of racists, much like a certain class of Nazi scientist, researcher in eugenics in particular. Many of them were I’m sure academics too.

    Unless you believe most British academics are racists (something I very much doubt) the question is not what the racists, like those Nazi scientists, are doing, the question is what is everyone else doing? And when are they going to start doing it? The victims of UCU racism have already started to leave… who’s going to join them?

  9. Alec Says:

    Is Rosso Verde being deliberately obtuse?

  10. Jonathan Romer Says:

    I’m not a member of UCU, but I want to add my thanks to Jon Pike for doing the deeply unpleasant work of standing up almost alone, in a hall full of bigots, to represent decency, honesty and fairness.

    In leftist politics the phrase “speaking truth to power” has come to mean little or nothing. Like so many of the other slogans of the left it is used as a fig leaf, either cynically or out of obliviousness, as cover for its exact opposite or to stroke the ego of the user. If anyone spoke truth to power at Bournemouth yesterday, it was Jon.

  11. zkharya Says:

    “isn’t it like throwing your toys out of the pram – if you think Cushman’s arguments are wrong then oppose them!”

    That didn’t do the Jewish socialist Bund much good against the Marxist-Leninists. and it hasn’t done much good against the Marxist-Trotskiite/SWP faction that have hijacked the UCU.

    At the risk of causing offence, isn’t there something terribly overweight-middle-aged-rockstar-wannabes-finally-getting-their-chance about all this?

    UCU congress is clearly a theatre for gesture-politics where those with the loudest voice get their way. It is so far from actual academia in terms of standard of research and presentation that one can scarcely believe it exists. It is like a phantasmogorical parallel world, a zoo of fabulous but hideous animals that belch and fart in a Marxian nightmare.

  12. EdwardT Says:

    Rosso Verde

    I assume you have lived on Planet Zog for the last seven years without Internet, a radio, a TV or newspapers ….

  13. Democracy? Says:

    I’m an atheist anarchist, and I quit the union a long time ago. I’ve yet to see much value in going back.

    It was sad to hear one of the true hard left speakers, Camila Bassi, being dismissed in the way she was by a bunch of single-issue wannabe’s. A union is supposed to support the workers, all workers, not partisan groupings.

    Imagine the support a British academic union would have if it acted as a neutral intermediary in dialogue between Palestinian and Isreali academics. Imagine the issues that could be investigated, the ideas that could be pursued, and solutions proposed?

  14. Ronnie Fraser Says:

    If Cushman is correct in his analysis, then they have ethnically cleansed the UCU of any oposition to their racist, xenophobic, antisemitic policies.

  15. Jon Says:

    If history repeats itself, once as tragedy, twice as farce, what are we to make the boycotters fifth attempt to leverage the reputation of the UCU (a reputation they had no part in creating) for thier own narrow partisan ends?

    Some context to the whole mess appears at http://www.divestthis.com.

    Jon

  16. Pseudonym Says:

    I remain an opponent of the boycott, but I have to say that Engage has now turned into a caricature of itself. Have you never heard the story of the boy who cried “Wolf”? Do you not feel uneasy appropriating the language of ‘Judenrein’ to mean something (thankfully) very different to its original meaning? Do you not feel uneasy denying that those Jewish people who hold different political views to you are _really_ Jewish? Does that last fact in particular not bother you? Perhaps not. But it should.

    I’m a member of the UCU (and have form supporting Engage, as it happens) but I am not going to sign my name to this post, nor use a traceable email with it, because I don’t want to be red-baited, nor do I want hassle from colleagues. This fact in itself, of course, demonstrates nothing about the correctness or otherwise of the positions I hold.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      The whole of this comment demonstrates exactly _why_ Engage is anything but a parody of itself. That Pseudonym feels unable to publicly declare their identity as an academic and a member of UCU says it all.

      If there are any parodies about, they are coming from the BDS crowd, who seem to relish flouting laws that they and their direct predecessors sweated blood getting on the statute book and then failing to recognise that their BDS stance is inherently racist – for all the reasons argued ad nauseam here. They are argued ad nauseam because the BDS crowd have become incapable of recognising facts, argument and anything other than their own self-centred and circular ideology.

      Tell me, Pseudonym, what would happen if we collectively stopped fighting? And I speak as a former member of one of the components of UCU for 38 years: I left upon retirement, exactly because I was blowed if I was going to finance any of this sort of garbage.

      • Martin Wisse Says:

        Yes, it says that he or she does not feel comfortable posting under their own identity on your site, but nothing about the UCU. They’re afraid that if they posted under their own name, your lot would start hounding them. Which, on past performance, is not an unreasonable fear, especially since David Hirsh in this very post thinks only zionists can be Jews! What does that make all non-zionist Jews, which even Engage has to admit still exist?

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          So why have _you_ come back here, then? Are you trying to say that _you_ are so brave that _you_ can take it, whereas other, less robust, individuals can’t? Aren’t you afraid we’ll hound you?

          No-one is _obliged_ to post here: you however not only choose to, you also choose to specifically misinterpret Pseudonym’s posting.

          That’s how clever you are: you think we’re so stupid we won’t notice your not so subtle inversion of what is said.

          Absolutely typical of the boycotters: no evidence, no argument, so let’s pretend people are saying the opposite of what they are actually saying. Who knows, maybe the people on Engage won’t notice and we can boast to each other how smart _we_ are.

          Fat chance, Wisse.

        • Martin Wisse Says:

          Seriously dude, are you actually accusing me of doing what you yourself did in your very first answer in this subthread?

          Do you think people don’t scroll up?

        • zkharya Says:

          “They’re afraid that if they posted under their own name, your lot would start hounding them.”

          What do you mean by “hound”, Martin? Write posts and threads about things people have verifiably written or said (albeit sometimes hoped they would remain secret)? How does that constitute “hounding”?

          “David Hirsh in this very post thinks only zionists can be Jews!”

          I think David clarified that what he meant was that the only Jews welcome at UCU congress were anti-Zionist Jews, most of whom are of the non-Jewish Jewish Trotskiite SWP sort.

          To anyone who actually experiences day to day Jewish communal life, aware of the views of Jews generally, academic and lay, this is disturbing.

  17. Bill Says:

    So when will we see universities and colleges declining to negotiate with the UCU as a body that discriminates by ethnicity and national origin? They’ve just given cynical administrators, and even honest ones, the fig leaf to walk away from the table.

  18. Phil Says:

    If Cushman is correct in his analysis, then they have ethnically cleansed the UCU of any oposition to their racist, xenophobic, antisemitic policies.

    One or the other. It’s either “no Jews” or “no opponents” – and I’d say it’s pretty staringly obvious from the piece that it’s the latter. “Zionist” does not equal “Jew”, no matter how often you say it does.

    Except for Jews like him, the Jews who speak “as a Jew” but who are quite unable to recognize antisemitism.

    Oh, right. There are Good Jews and Bad Jews, and Bad Jews actually hate all Jews – and we know this because they say they don’t like the Good Jews. All clear now.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Phil says “Oh, right. There are Good Jews and Bad Jews, and Bad Jews actually hate all Jews – and we know this because they say they don’t like the Good Jews. All clear now.”

      Come now Phil (not quite what I’d really like to say), you know as well as the rest of us that the “good Jews” are those who speak “as a Jew” in favour of BDS, because the boycotters reckon they’ve seen the light and are prepared _not_ to demonise this group. The bad Jews are those who persist in demanding that anti-racism means _exactly_ what it says, therefore includes antisemitism, and can’t be waved away as anti-Zionism and also defused through the use of the Livingstone formulation.

      There are, additionally, other “good Jews” who, without attacking and demonising Israel, nevertheless claim that the rise in antisemitic sentiments and action around the world are directly caused (not merely correlated) by the actions of Israel and the support Israel receives from the bulk of the Diaspora. Anthony Lerman springs to mind as a prime example of this group.

      So stop playing the faux naive innocent, Phil, and either present a case for your slurs or admit that, really, your as one with the BDS crowd but want to pretend otherwise, with some extremely faulty “philosophising”.

      • tonyblonely Says:

        This raises an interesting point. Anthony (Antony?) Lerman is both right and wrong. RIGHT: in imputing a causal link between Israel’s actions and support from the bulk of the Jewish Diaspora AND an increase in anti-semitism. WRONG: in then failing to explain that this is driven chiefly by irrationality, prejudice, cultural tropes now in ascendancy, and by an amoral yet utilitarian consideration of the global demographics of one and a half billion Muslims versus 13 million Jews

  19. Eve Garrard Says:

    What Jonathan Romer (at 12.59) said.

  20. Lynne T Says:

    One of Canada’s most tireless opponents of antisemitism is a human rights lawyer who is not Jewish. To date, Richard Warman has used Canada’s human rights laws very effectively in dealing with neonazis and white supremacists. I hope he’s got a parallel in the UK.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Warman

  21. David Lieberman Says:

    To Phil and Pseudonym, who object (with some justification) to the claim that “have ethnically cleansed the UCU of any oposition to their racist, xenophobic, antisemitic policies,” a question: is it really less problematic to argue, as you both imply, that they have only ideologically cleansed the UCU of any opposition to their racist, xenophobic, antisemitic policies?

    Moreover, if the numbers of those who are leaving the UCU over this issue include a disproportionately high percentage of Jews, or if the percentage of Jews who remain in the UCU is a dwindling fraction of its Jewish membership pre-boycott, in what sense would this *not* amount to an ethnic cleansing?

  22. David Hirsh Says:

    Not a single Jewish opponent of the boycott spoke in the debate.

    This is an interesting and significant fact.

    It requires some explanation.

    • Jim Says:

      How many Catholics spoke in the debate? How many Methodists? How many Lutherans? Why do you focus so much on someone’s religion or ethnicity in this debate? Ideas matter: not the religious identity of those who speak them. The focus on ethnicity belies the true purpose of the boycott.

      • zkharya Says:

        “The focus on ethnicity belies the true purpose of the boycott”.

        OK, then we are somewhat in agreement. But there is also a kind of de facto UCU boycott of British Jewish academics of other than the most extreme, unrepresentative or Trotskiite sort.

        As I wrote above, the situation is not so much like the Nazis in the ’30s, but that of the RSDLP in pre-revolutionary Russia.

        You might as well as the Jewish socialist Bund in 1903 “Why the focus on ethnicity?”, which, more or less, is what Lenin did do, often using his fellow Bolshevik non-Jewish Jews, preparatory to their being dissolved with all other Jewish national and religious institutions under Stalin.

        As for focusing on “ideas”: some would say Jewish ethnicity as well as religion is an “idea”, along with every other kind of ethnic or religious identity. One does not see UCU congress engaged in similar memetic cleansing of them.

  23. Phil Says:

    is it really less problematic to argue, as you both imply, that they have only ideologically cleansed the UCU of any opposition to their racist, xenophobic, antisemitic policies?

    My earlier comment shouldn’t be read as assenting to that proposition. If Zionists are no longer able to organise within UCU, obviously that’s a problem. But it’s a very different order of problem from the assertion that Jews are no longer able to be members of UCU.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Except that so many Jewish (now former) members of UCU who are either Zionist or (without being particularly Zionist) feel threatened both by the boycott movement and the general attacks on Jews who dare speak against the boycott in fact feel unable to remain in the UCU.

      I certainly did, back in 2004, when I retired. I made a conscious decision that I would _not_ remain a member of either Natfhe or its successor organisation, if only to deny them my small subscription to use for the purposes of promoting BDS.

      If you bother to read these columns with any assuidity, you will be aware of the flow _out_ of UCU of Jews – as well as many others who feel completely alienated by the UCULeft/SWP domination of the leadership. A leadership which, further, appear to set it face against any manifestation of democracy that might deny them their orgiastic moment in the sun (or the courts).

      Just _why_ do the leadership refuse to call a membership wide ballot/referendum on the whole question of a boycott? Because they know they’d lose hands down, have to drop the topic and might even lose their NEC positions.

      God help us: democracy _actually_ leading to the enactment of the will of the membership and a concentration on pay and conditions. What’s _that_ got to do with I/P and pissing in the wind?

  24. zkharya Says:

    Pseudonym,

    “I remain an opponent of the boycott, but I have to say that Engage has now turned into a caricature of itself.”

    The accusation of caricature from the mouth of one who so obviously wears a mask comes a little strangely.

    “Do you not feel uneasy appropriating the language of ‘Judenrein’ to mean something (thankfully) very different to its original meaning?”

    You clearly have not learned to distinguish between individuals who post “Judenrein” on threads here and the Gestalt entity you call “Engage”.

    “Do you not feel uneasy denying that those Jewish people who hold different political views to you are _really_ Jewish?”

    The situation is closer to revolutionary Russia than Nazi Germany: UCU is very successfully purging itself of all Jews but the non-Jewish Marxist-Trostskiite sort.

    Such Jews were non-Jewish compared to the Jewish national socialist Bund (and, yes, I am aware I used the term “national socialist”: but the Bund were Jewish nationalist and they were genuinely socialist).

    “I don’t want to be red-baited, nor do I want hassle from colleagues.”

    You don’t need to provide an email. But you are obviously too afraid of some kind of wolf to tell us who you are “as a member of UCU” who allegedly opposes a boycott.

    Thus imputing to “Engage” the cry of “wolf” sounds strange too.

  25. Alec Says:

    Phil, as far as I can see, any difference is, a la Silverstein, that of the attack on Chabad House as being “not necessarily” antisemitic. Most Jews alive now are descended either from those who left Europe pre-1939 or the Survivors and those expunged from Muslim majority countries; for all intents and purposes, they are Zionist or pro-Israel in some way.

    It’s similar to the grief the SWP feel over attacks on Jewish cemetaries, ie dead Jews, but not necessarily on those Jews wishing not to be dead.

    PS I hope readers are listening to The Essay on Radio3.

  26. zkharya Says:

    Phil:

    “One or the other. It’s either “no Jews” or “no opponents” – and I’d say it’s pretty staringly obvious from the piece that it’s the latter. “Zionist” does not equal “Jew”, no matter how often you say it does.”

    But why should cleansing itself of “Zionists”, i.e. the major, normative Jewish kind of Jew that feels some kind of empathy or sympathy with the Jewish state of Israel and the Jewish national liberation movement, or “Zionism”, that created it, exert such a fascination for UCU congress and its SWP-Trotskiite leadership?

    Why should UCU congress be so concerned with excluding normative, majority Jewish opinion on this matter?

    Israel is the second or largest Jewish community in the world. British Jews are bound to it by all sorts of ties and connections, familial, cultural, economic and, not least, educational and academic.

    Any such boycott will obviously disproportionately adversely affect them, as well as devestate the field of academic Jewish and related studies of which Israel is a world centre.

    Israel exists because, in no small part, the national movements or states of Europe, left as well as right, including their academics and academic establishments discriminated against Jews on an individual, ethnic or national basis.

    Why is UCU congress so concerned with laying down, to use your language, Phil, what constitutes a “good” i.e. anti-Zionist Jew as a opposed to a “bad” i.e. what you define as “Zionist” Jew?

    To anyone familiar with European (and other) Jewish history of the 19th and 20th centuries, history seems to be recapitulating itself.

  27. zkharya Says:

    “Not a single Jewish opponent of the boycott spoke in the debate.

    This is an interesting and significant fact.

    It requires some explanation.”

    It does, David, not least because the Jews that spoke are so wholly unrepresentative of Anglo-Jewish opinion generally.

  28. zkharya Says:

    Further, if purging UCU of “Zionists” is not a concern of the leadership and boycotters, why did Michael Cushman crow about having done just that, as though they constituted some kind of threat?

    The fact is, most British Jews do have political views and opinions, are largely sympathetic with if critical of Israel, but are not raised in a culture of the kind of boorish aggression that characterizes, unfortunately, the play acting and gesture politics of the theatre that is UCU congress.

    The aggressive boorishness that characterizes John Rose et al. reminds of me of (normally quite privileged and middle class) schoolboys who want to act tough (or “street” or “wreal”) by hanging out with the rough kids and adopting their language and mannerisms.

    To use rather ancient “street” language myself, it’s totally bogus. They clearly have no idea how uncouth it makes them appear, and how much of a turn off it is to their fellow Jews. It is not intended to persuade their fellow Jews, rather to grandstand in front of those they would emulate or to whom they think they would appeal.

    It’s a kind of academic yob culture.

    For better or worse, that is not the political culture of Anglo-Jewry as whole.

  29. Lizzy P Says:

    The charge of Jew-baiting is not rebutted but is dealt with by a counter-charge of “red-baiting”.

    Cushman uses antisemitic rhetoric. He defends people who circulate David Duke’s conspiracy theory. He supports Hamas. He is praised by Press TV.

    To say so is called “red-baiting”.

    The only Jews who speak at UCU Congress are anti-Zionists.

    To point this out is called “red-baiting”.

    Hatred of antisemitism is diminished as “red-baiting”.

  30. ami Says:

    According to today’s Guardian:
    “Lecturers voted overwhelmingly yesterday to boycott Israeli universities and colleges.”
    What a dishonest impression the Guardian allows with that “overwhelmingly”.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/27/lecturers-boycott-israeli-universities-ucu

  31. Bill Says:

    Psuedo?

    “I don’t want to be red-baited, nor do I want hassle from colleagues.”

    Afraid of being called a redbaited? So what.. I and the rest of my division have serious and irreconcilable issues with our local negotiating unit which does not, cannot and will not represent us but insists that their incompatible formulae be applied to all of us. But I can criticize them and still support organized (but sane) labor and anyone calling me a redbaiter can kiss my fanny. And the boycotters should stand in line to pucker up on yours too.

    As for not wanting hassle from colleagues, can you clarify? Is opposing the boycott of Jews and only Jews now “uncollegial” (with all the innuendo and undercurrents the term implies)? If so you are demonstrating the presence of a hostile work environment that the UCU is cultivating. I’d say that that’s a big deal.

    And for crying wolf… grandma has very sharp teeth…. as demonstrated by the recent days’ events (and by your apparently desire not to want any hassle).

  32. Bill Says:

    called a redbaitER… shucks… I prefer just being “uncollegial”

  33. zkharya Says:

    Thanks Alec, for those interested, here is The Essay on BBC IPlayer:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006x3hl

  34. Pseudonym Says:

    Ah, sod this pussy-footing around. I’m not afraid of nazis, so why should I be afraid of you lot? My name is Chris Williams, and I am a lecturer in the History department at the Open University. Two years ago I seconded my colleague Jon Pike when he proposed the Engage motion against the boycott proposals in the OU branch of the UCU. Today I wouldn’t do that.

    I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important and (b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity. I also remain convinced that this is a pernicious position to hold. This problem might not worry you, but it ought to.

    Remember that “some people who are in favour of a boycott are idiots, nay evil” is not a valid point to make in response to this critique, even if it’s true about them. I recommend Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ to you all, just as I recommend it to them. Good night, and good bye.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important and (b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity.”

      Um, excuse me, Chris, but I thought that this selection of which “ethnicity” to support was _exactly_ what the boycotters and the rest of the BDS group were doing, etc. _They_ are the ones who are have decided to boycott Israel (and Jews) and only Israel and Jews and no other group in the whole wide world. If I’ve got that wrong and you mean something entirely diferent, then you need to say so.

      Sorry, but you can’t just make such general statements, leave them unspecified and then just go away.

  35. Alan Says:

    It’s not so much the word “overwhelmingly” as the word “lecturers”, which in Guardianspeak apparently means “the SWP clique in control of the lecturers’ union”. Lecturers, collectively, have never voted on this issue and are not going to be allowed to vote, since the clique knows too well what the result would be.

  36. Befuddled UCU member Says:

    well, what a confusing situation! speaking as a does-not-have-a-foot-in-any-particular-camp UCU member and branch officer and UCU Congress delegate of this year and last year, I have to say that it seems like a bin fight of one group against another and Speaking as a does-not-have-a-foot-in-any-particular-camp UCU member, Branch Officer and UCU Congress delegate of this year and last year, I have to say that it seems like a real bun fight of one group against another. I know the issues are massively important and horrific and as an atheist and former history student I have to say the black and white-ness that this debate has created is alarming. If a person is against the boycott does it necessarily mean that they are ‘a Zionist’? There are several equally horrific situations occurring in the world today e.g. the Sudan, Sri Lanka and where is the heated debate on this? the ensuing and

    • David Hirsh Says:

      You don’t have a foot in one camp or another?
      What does that mean?

      Congress was asked whether it wanted the NEC to investigate why Jewish members were resigning from the union complaining of antisemitism.

      Congress voted no, it didn’t want the NEC to find out why Jewish members were resigning, complaining of antisemitism.

      Which foot in which camp do you have to have to recognize a Congress which doesn’t care about antisemitism in the union?

      Your implication seems to be that if you think the union should take antisemitism seriously then you must be a Jew or a Zionist or something like that.

      But it isn’t true.

      To take antisemitism seriously you have to take the founding equality commitments of the union seriously.

      If you have a foot in the camp of trade unionism then you will take antisemitism seriously.

      How can people think that antisemitism is only a tribal issue for Jews?

      • John Winlow Says:

        Crikey! You guys are so-o-o intellectual! I enjoy keeping up with this website, but I have to read the comments over and over again to get some sense out of them.
        I think you are all basically agreed that Jewish people have by various ways and means, been frozen out, intimidated and bullied by other factions in the same union.
        People who in any way shape or form are deemed to be supportive of Israel are being denied a voice in a supposedly democratic, multicultural, antiracist institution.
        This obviously goes against what we stand for as a free nation. So can’t you call in the Commission for Racial Equality, contact your MP’s, anyone and everyone who is supposed to stop this kind of thing? Surely there are departments of Government who should be investigating this.
        Secondly in fighting your corner you are wasting time and energy by questioning each other’s commitment to the cause, and then your authenticity as Jewish people. “I ‘m a better truer Jew than you because….”

        When I lived in Israel I didn’t hear kibbutzniks questioning each other’s value in terms of their Jewishness or Zionistic fervour. They might say “that Moshe’s a lazy so and so,” but not “that Moshe’s a lazy so and so- is he really Jewish?!
        It seems to me that assuming all or most of you are English/British, who also happen to be Jewish; you should be working towards solidarity and acceptance, so that all feel valued., and you draw more (Jewish and non Jewish) people in to support you. English people tend to dislike confrontation at the best of times. Why give them another excuse not to get involved by in house arguing among yourselves?
        By the sounds of it you have more than enough enemies and critics without practising on each other!

  37. Phil Says:

    UCU is very successfully purging itself of all Jews but the non-Jewish

    I think all we’re going to agree on here is that the UCU leadership has taken a position which is opposed to Zionism. Not all Jews are Zionists (and no, non-Zionists Jews aren’t “non-Jewish”); for that matter, not all Zionists are Jews.

    From the OP:

    There were no Jews there to speak against the boycott. “The Zionists barely showed up”.

    Cashman does not make the first statement, and I have no idea what licences you to infer it from the second.

  38. Phil Says:

    Sorry, Cushman.

  39. David Hirsh Says:

    “There were no Jews there to speak against the boycott.”

    I didn’t infer it. I witnessed it.

    No Jews spoke against the against the boycott.

    • Martin Wisse Says:

      Did you speak up? Since you were there and all?

      • David Hirsh Says:

        I was not delegated by my branch and so did not have the right to speak.

        • Inna Says:

          David, you and Jon for better or worse have become recognized as leaders of the anti-racist movement in the UCU. If you do not speak (delegated or not) odds are neither will others.

          It’s not comfortable (to put it mildly) to get up in front of a bunch of intellectual racists and tell them that actually they are racists. To tell them (to use John Steinbeck’s words) that you “hasten to inform both the extreme right and that pseudo left which calls itself left that they … hunt down and eliminate everyone with the slightest revolutionary tendency”; to tell this pseudo left that you are still “treasonable enough to.. believe in the despotism of human life and happiness against the liberty of money and possessions.” (“I am a Revolutionary” and “Writers Take Sides”).

          It was hard for Steinbeck and it’s not gotten any easier. And you and Jon are the recognized leaders.

          Regards,

          Inna

  40. zkharya Says:

    “I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important and (b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity. I also remain convinced that this is a pernicious position to hold. This problem might not worry you, but it ought to.”

    Mr Williams, it is not “we” who are saying Jews may not be anti-Zionist. It is Trotskiite anti-Zionist non-Jewish (by which I mean not in the least observant or community affiliated) Jews who are seeking to whip up their “comrades” into penalizing ordinary, normative Anglo-Jews who have all kinds of natural and normal ties with the second or largest Jewish community in the world: Israel.

    It is not even clear that by “Zionism” Michael Cushman means anything other than “not motivated by a desire to dissolve or destroy the Jewish state of Israel”.

    It strikes me that anyone who attempts historiography without some recognition of ethnicity is up a gum tree. But, even if you regard “ethnicity” as unimportant, why is UCU congress with deconstructing or hounding out of existence only one ethno-nationality in the world: the Jewish?

    Listen, you may find Jewish or any “ethnicity” distasteful. Well, tough. It’s part of our lives, it’s how many of us nang out together, socialize, marry, have children etc. You may think your historiographic principles are above that sort of thing, also fine. We just don’t see why we should be selected by half-baked academics for ethnic termination first, above all other ethnicities, in the goal of the deconstruction of all nationalities for the one, united world.

    Which is why, in the end, the Soviet attempt to deconstruct Jewish particularity out of existence failed, and even the Eastern European Jewish Marxists decided that, although no nationalities were preferable, so long as the world existed in ethno-national states, and so long as Jews were discriminated against as foreign or alien, there was no reason why Jews should be the foundational sacrifice for the revolution that never really came.

  41. zkharya Says:

    “Two years ago I seconded my colleague Jon Pike when he proposed the Engage motion against the boycott proposals in the OU branch of the UCU. Today I wouldn’t do that.”

    You didn’t actually make it clear, Chris, why this is the case. Because of Israel, or because of us, or both?

  42. zkharya Says:

    “I think all we’re going to agree on here is that the UCU leadership has taken a position which is opposed to Zionism. Not all Jews are Zionists (and no, non-Zionists Jews aren’t “non-Jewish”); for that matter, not all Zionists are Jews.”

    It depends what you mean by “Zionist”, Phil. If by “Zionist” you mean sympathetic to the Jewish state of Israel and the reasons how and why it came to be, than most Jews are “Zionist”. And most of the Trotskiite anti-Zionist Jews at UCU congress are not in the least bit observant or community affiliated: hence “non-Jewish Jews”.

    Trotsky and Marx were non-Jewish Jews. The Jews that served the Bolsheviks to dissolve the Jewish Bund were non-Jewish Jews. Such people exist, and these are of they.

  43. Saul Says:

    Interesting no one yet has picked up this point

    Cushman exclaims that,
    “It was brilliant. The Zionists bareley showed up. John Pike was totally isolated. On the first vote about invetigsting institutional anti-semitism in UCU he got about 6 votes out of 350.”

    So, a vote against institutional antisemitism is deemed by Cushman as a “victory” on a par with the boycott.

    Dismissing an enquiry against antisemitism is a “victory” against “the Zionists”.

    If anything illustrates the blurring of antizionism and antisemitism within the ranks of the UCU and BRICUP, this is it.

    For Cushman, anyone daring to raise the question of antisemitism is lying, is manipulating, is using it for ulterior motives, is being dishonest – is the stereotype of the antisemites image of “the Jew”.

    This is the atmosphere in the UCU at the moment.

    This atmosphere in which this antisemitic image of Jews is gloated over by a leading spokesperson on the boycott in the UCU and of BRICUP cuts across the academic and somewhat sterile point about whether it is “the Zionists” or “Jews” that are welcome or not in the UCU.

    All antisemitism allows of exceptions of some class of Jews. Today, the exception Jews of the UCU is the “anti-Zionist Jew”.
    The more that one point to the distinction between Zionists and Jews in this context, the more the point is proved.

  44. Phil Says:

    “There were no Jews there to speak against the boycott.”

    I didn’t infer it. I witnessed it.

    No Jews spoke against the against the boycott.

    What you didn’t witness was that there were no Jews there. Nor did you subsequently read Cushman celebrating the absence of Jews.

  45. Phil Says:

    you may find Jewish or any “ethnicity” distasteful.

    This is, of course, precisely what Chris doesn’t say – you seem to have stopped reading before you got to point (b).

  46. zkharya Says:

    “If a person is against the boycott does it necessarily mean that they are ‘a Zionist’?”

    Well, neither Cushman, Phil nor anyone else actually define what it is they mean by “Zionist”.

    I think someone who is sympathetic to how and why Israel came to me might conceivably be “pro-Zionist” rather than “Zionist”. He or she might even by non- or anti-Zionist.

    I think it is possible to think that “Zionism” per se is wrong, but that the fact that Jews have been regarded as dispossessed “Palestinians”, for 2000 years, and ethnically cleansed and murdered by the million as a consequence, entitles them to a national home in Palestine, and the choice of Palestinian and other Arab Muslims and Christians to subject, dispossess or murder them fully explains the tragedy that befell them.

    Israel has killed far fewer, with far more justification than Russia, the US, the UK, NATO or other countries, in far more straitened circumstances.

    But the Trotskiites want to wage war against global capitalism through the one, literal Jew of the nations, just as their Socialism of Fools predecessors sought to do it through the Jew of the nations before the Jewish state of Israel existed.

    They don’t boycott the US, China, UK or NATO countries. But Israel, for all they magnify it into a superpower, is, obviously, vulnerable, beset as she is by enemies who, given half the chance, would destroy her.

    They smell blood. They want a sacrifice.

  47. zkharya Says:

    Chris Williams:

    “I’m not afraid of nazis, so why should I be afraid of you lot?”

    What does that mean?

  48. Absolute Observer Says:

    Why should Chris be “afraid of us”? Why should he make the comparison of “us” with neo-nazis?

    What “crime” did Engage to draw such venom

    Just why so angry? Why the disproportionate outrage? Why does he articulate his disgust with the loaded language of “crying wolf”?

    Does he react to everything he disagrees with in such tones?

  49. Curious Says:

    Here is a question that seems appropriate in the context of the Jews/Zionists distinction.

    Was Walter Rathenau assasinated “as a Jew” or “as a Social Democrat”? And, for Walter Rathenau, did it matter?

  50. zkharya Says:

    Hmm, Chris, how is the following compatible with your thinking ethnicity “unimportant”?

    “4) Pro-Zionists and pro-US apologists absolutely *love* it when people on
    our side confuse anti-Zionism and pro-Arab politics [ie respect for
    humanity] with anti-Semitism. It plays into their hands by strengthening a
    central tenet of racist Zionism, which holds that all anti-Zionism is the
    same as anti-Semitism. I’ve heard this from Zionists. Of course, it isn’t
    true: indeed, in order to retract the diaspora into the state of Israel,
    many Zionists connived with anti-Semitism.

    http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2002/msg00057.html

  51. Another worthless ritual in UCU « Shiraz Socialist Says:

    [...] Michael Cushman and the Jew-free UCU Congress [...]

  52. 701 Says:

    What Phil and Chris Williams fails to realise is that the entire discourse of the boycott movement at this congress, as with previous ones, is pervaded, if not chracterised, by making a stand against “Zionist” [sic] power.

    From the very first moment that the UCU membership overturned the initial boycott movement, leading members of the boycott movement talked about “Zionist power”; one went so far as to argue that a “secret cabal” from the “Israeli embassy” has determined the outcome.

    The UCU activist list is full of comments about the strength of the “Zionist Lobby” and of needing to stand up against them.
    Anyone of the UCU activist list who raised the question of antisemitism was assumed to be a member of the Israel Lobby trying to interfere in the “democratic” workings of an autonomous union.

    One member thought anyone who raised the issue of antisemitism would be better off leaving the union and that the union would be better without them.

    It is in this sense that UCU has made it a place that Jews (Zionist, non-zionist and principled antizionists (i.e. those who refuse to flirt with, condone or spread antisemitic imagery and ideas)) are not welcome. Jews who stand against antisemitism have been silenced. Jews who think the boycott is wrong has been silenced. Whether they are “ZIonists” or not is irrelevant for the boycotters.

    All that is relevant, is that UCU stand up against the omnipotent “Zionists”, the “Lobby” and since they have become one and the same thing “the Jews” (note the inverted commas).

    It is for these reasons that UCU excludes and continues to exclude Jews.

    As in so many other institutions whilst the UCU point to formal equality it is undermined by substantive informal inequality, in this instance, antisemitism.

  53. Absolute Observer Says:

    zkharya

    Thank you for posting Chris WIlliams words.

    I thought I smelled a rat, when he pushed the antisemitic notion that Jews “cry wolf”.

    Love the word “confuse”! so very innocent. Like the way Williams “confuses” his own view that Zionists are the antithesis of “humanity” with those of the neo-nazis that (we now know) he has to reason to be afraid of.

    As always, someone; like Williams, who believes Jews colludes with antisemitism more than not tells us more about their own politics than anything about Jews.

    If anything proves David Hirsh’s point about the state of UCU one need go no further than William’s himself.

  54. Absolute Observer Says:

    Saul,

    Let us note what is not there is Cushman’s comments…………

    Any serious comment about Palestine, Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity. Or even how this “motion” would effect the situation in the Middle East.

    Instead, what we do get from him is his masturbating over how “the Zionists” and the anti-antisemites was given a good kicking.

    Seems like 701 is right.

    Cushman’s words speak directly showing that the aim of the boycott movement has little if anything, to do with the Palestinians in the OT, and more to “stand up” to Jews and, little, if anything, to do with the Palestinians in the OT.

    I guess denouncing UCU members as “Zionists” is easier than actually doing something constructive; something, as Pike argued in his speech, would commit the Union to taking an active role in seeking a resolution to the conflict.

  55. Anonymous member Says:

    I met two people from my department alone who have left the Union (after over 20 years membership) over the boycott issue.

    They also told me that the fact that UCU wasted a tidy sum of money over messing up a simple matter like organising a recent ballot confirmed them that the UCU is not only becoming an irrelevance (and, no, they do not think that discussing political matters outside of wages and conditions is wrong), but also a bit of a joke.

    But, hey, who cares about these two long-standing members compared to the fact that “the Zionists are totally isolated”?

  56. NIMN Says:

    Maybe Mike Cushman would like to test what he terms “the isolation of the ZIonists” (which I assume he means those who think the boycott is wrong for a dozen and one reasons), by taking it to the membership as a whole?

    Oh, wait, that happened once and, if I recall, Cushman could not carry one single branch with them (Blackwell could not even succeed in being a delegate of her own university (and was recently voted off the NEC) I guess it is quite easy to see why, from their point of view, “votes don’t count”.

  57. zkharya Says:

    “you may find Jewish or any “ethnicity” distasteful.

    This is, of course, precisely what Chris doesn’t say

    Philip, he said

    “I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important”

    which is an odd thing to say on a websight largely frequented by Jews and concerned with racism and discrimination against Jews. “Engage” doesn’t argue “(Jewish) ethnicity is important”. Jewish ethnicity is simply assumed, since that is for most Jews part of what being Jewish and part of a Jewish community is. But Chris rather seems to imply that that is unimportant, as he is entitled to do. It just seems odd, again, to do so on a site like Engage.

    “you seem to have stopped reading before you got to point (b).”

    That’s odd, Philip, you seem to acknowledge that, so long as one doesn’t assume “b”, “a” does imply ethnicity is unimportant. We’ll see, shall we?

    “(b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity.”

    Well, clearly, “b” does not cancel “a”, and it is also untrue. Engage is not dictating what opinions Jews should hold. I and David are correctly observing that the kinds of Jews who do appear at UCU are of a generally Trotskiite sort, not particularly Jewish except by the technical fact of their descent (i.e. “race”?), which they only seem to adduce when louding declaring their anti-Zionism, even as Bolshevik Jews only proclaimed their Jewishness on behalf of the revolution when denouncing their fellow Jewish socialists in the Bund or dissolving their institutions.

    Obviously this is not particularly Jewish when compared to the majority of British Jews who often have some kind of minimal observance and participate in some kind of communal Jewish life.

    “I also remain convinced that this is a pernicious position to hold. This problem might not worry you, but it ought to.”

    Hmm. Engage does not “argue ethnicity is important”: it simply assumes the fact of Jewish ethnicity i.e. peoplehood, as Jews have done for centuries.

    No Jews have called for the exclusion of “anti-Zionists”, or rejoiced at the prospect of their absence. But that is exactly what Cushman et al. have done with regard to what they call, but do not define as, “Zionist”.

    One would have thought Chris Williams might have thought that pernicious. Apparently not.

    “Interesting no one yet has picked up this point”

    Actually, Saul, I did, at 6.15 pm.

    Correction, I may have incorrectly assumed Chris Williams was from Bridgend. I may be wrong about that, and would like to apologise if that is incorrect.

    Consequently, David or whoever is there, would you please delete that particular post? Thank you.

  58. zkharya Says:

    “I’m not afraid of nazis, so why should I be afraid of you lot?”

    I’ve just realised, Christ Williams is also taking a brave stand against “Zionist” power.

  59. Phil Says:

    All that is relevant, is that UCU stand up against the omnipotent “Zionists”, the “Lobby” and since they have become one and the same thing “the Jews” (note the inverted commas).

    You would have a much better case if you could produce examples of UCU people actually referring to “the Jews”.

    It is for these reasons that UCU excludes and continues to exclude Jews.

    UCU conferences are currently an uncomfortable place for Zionists (Jewish or otherwise). And, er, that’s it.

    <iThat’s odd, Philip, you seem to acknowledge that, so long as one doesn’t assume “b”, “a” does imply ethnicity is unimportant.

    Good grief. Could you try confining yourself to dealing with the propositions people are actually making?

    David describes the conference as “Jew-free” and accuses Cushman of celebrating the absence of “Jews”. He then says

    Except for Jews like him, the Jews who speak “as a Jew” but who are quite unable to recognize antisemitism. Haim Bresheeth. John Rose. Michael Cushman. These are the Jews now, at UCU Congress.

    This is doublethink in excelsis. Cushman says “the Zionists didn’t show up”, so this must mean he’s glad that it was a “Jew-free” Congress. Except that some Jews evidently were there – so these Jews must not be real Jews, because, er, they’re not Zionists.

    Once again: it is factually untrue – and a really serious slur – to say that UCU excludes Jews. If you want to fight for Zionism in UCU, go ahead. If you want to fight for free speech in UCU, knock yourself out. But don’t hang the swastika on your opponents, because they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Phil says (at 7.13am, 29.5.09): “If you want to fight for free speech in UCU, knock yourself out.”

      If he really means that, then he’s saying you can whistle for free speech in UCU, ‘cos you ain’t gonna get it. Jews (unless they’re pro-BDS) can get lost – but we’re not kicking them out, just making it so uncomfortable that they leave of their own accord, along with all the others who think the BDS movement is an irrelevance and a waste of time and money which should be spent on pay and conditions.

      What are you going to do Phil when _your_ Pastor Niemoller moment arrives? Not that having hollowed out the union and having it become such an irrelevance that management ignore you and tell you to go and play in sand box appears to bother you.

      Am I glad to be retired.

    • David Lieberman Says:

      You seem to acknowledge that the only Jews apparently welcome in the UCU are those who endorse the UCU’s anti-Zionist ideology. You also seem to acknowledge that anti-Zionist Jews represent a very tiny fraction of the Jewish population. You therefore seem quite content with a UCU that has alienated a large percentage of the Jewish population. This is fine with you: as long as no one can point to some official statement from the UCU explicitly stating “No Jews need apply,” the reality that Jews are increasingly alienated from the UCU can be handily overlooked. The problem is with them, after all, not with you, and not with the UCU. They’re not being excluded after all, just driven away, so where’s the harm?

      You must certainly be aware that major antisemitic movements have always been able to count on a small number of disaffected Jews to validate their agendas. Your incessant harping on this phony argument about who is a real Jew makes for a very nice dodge, but what I would really like to see you address is this: how do you define antisemitism, and what about the behavior of the UCU as it willfully alienates the majority of Jews in its ranks differs from antisemitism? I also notice your reluctance to take on the question that has been raised repeatedly in this discussion: once people like Bresheeth, Rose and Cushman have cut themselves off from any meaningful association with the Jewish community, what besides race is left to define them as Jews? Are you really comfortable relying on that criterion as basis for arguing that there was meaningful Jewish representation at the Congress?

  60. Sarah Says:

    Befuddled asks “If a person is against the boycott does it necessarily mean that they are ‘a Zionist’?” I find this word is used in a very slippery and unhelpful way by anti-zionists to apply to a whole spectrum of positions, jumping from one meaning to another in the space of a few sentences in order to blur distinctions between anti-boycotters and those who are actively aligned with the Israeli right, say. I find boycotters seek to position their opponents as extremists whereas personally I think the position of the boycotters, in singling out Israel, is extreme. To be honest I hadn’t given the question of Zionism/Israel a great deal of thought before the boycott issue came up (I’m not Jewish) and I wouldn’t describe myself as a Zionist – more of an anti-anti-Zionist.

  61. Democracy? Says:

    For an unbiased view on the issue, I would refer you to the website of the National News Alliance – News for White People Worldwide

    http://www.natallnews.com/story.php?id=8305

    When the white supremacists start backing your union, it’s time to rethink the policy.

  62. zkharya Says:

    Phil, this is not like the Nazis, and I would hope David would say so, unless he disagrees for reasons he should state.

    This is more like the situation of the Bund in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Except, arguably, worse, since it has in its sights the harm, hurt or dissolution of the second or largest Jewish community in the world, the Jewish state of Israel, against which it rails with a venom reserved for no other.

    Would you please clarify, Phil, what, exactly, you mean by “Zionist”, and what, you think, Cushman means by the term.

    Nobody has said Cushman et al. are not “real Jews” (your term, not ours). But they are Jews not in the least observant or community affiliated, who only adduce their Jewishness when expressing their hostility to Zionism and the Jewish state of Israel, and defining themselves against what they call, but, like you, do not define as, “Zionists”.

    One wonders why you have such a problem with the term non-Jewish Jew, since, I think, it would accurately describe the likes of Marx, Trotsky and Jewish Trotskiites. The SWP is a Trotskiite party and was founded by a Palestinian Jewish Trotskiite who changed his Hebrew Jewish name Yigal Gluckstein to the more English, culturally Christian (no doubt authentically working class) Tony Cliff.

    One wonders what would happen to a Muslim or Arab delegate who expressly defined themselves against Islamic, Muslim or Arab ethnicity or nationality.

    It is odd that the few Jews who appear, often loudly and vociferously, at UCU congress, are so unrepresentative not only of Anglo-Jewish opinion generally but, no less seriously, Anglo-Jewish academic opinion.

  63. zkharya Says:

    “the Jewish state of Israel, against which it rails with a venom reserved for no other.”

    Actually, the venom resembles most closely the socialists who railed against the evils of Jewish Capital long before a Jewish state of Israel existed.

    In the same way a University of Salford delegate claims that the way to attack American imperialism (the latest substitute/equivalent for Capitalism) is through Israel:

    “We have provided a lead on the issue of Palestine. I’m proud to be in this union. We need to build on this anger. Israel is virtually a pariah state now. This is a fantastic sea change.

    We can still move forward. We can still put presure on the govenrment. We wil not be the tail end of American imperialism.

    Israel held itself up to be the only democracy in the middle East. But when you get a democratic government, Israel, on behalf of the US absolutely smashes it. Lets stand with the oppressed not the oppressor.”

    Israel is a symbol that both represents and is the Universal Enemy: it is the ethno-national territorial state incarnation of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, whatever you like. Curiously enough, not entirely unlike Jews, or Israel, were so portrayed before a modern Jewish state of Israel existed.

    This, alas, is what passes for academic “thought” at a congress of an allegedly academic union. But, then, such “thought” has occured before, at other congresses of academics, union or otherwise, elsewhere.

  64. zkharya Says:

    “Curiously enough, not entirely unlike Jews, or Israel, were so portrayed before a modern Jewish state of Israel existed.”

    I should have added: for which reason, in no small part, a Jewish state of Israel exists a priori.

    The state of whose Jewish citizens some academics, again, wish to dissolve.

  65. zkharya Says:

    “You would have a much better case if you could produce examples of UCU people actually referring to “the Jews”. ”

    The serious academic study of antisemitism only took place after the Holocaust, after antisemitism had wreaked its worst. It only entered mainstream discourse decades later.

    Antisemitism has since “evolved”, even as the situation of Jews has changed. In the Golden Age of Classical antisemitism, the 19th and early 20th centuries, nearly 80% of world Jewry lived in Europe. Now its about 12%, the rest divided pretty evenly between Israel and America.

    Quite simply, the academic study of antisemitism, as before the Holocaust, has not in general kept up, certainly at least with respect to those outside its study like you.

    Now hostility is generally expressed, not against the millions of Jews of Eastern Europe, but their descendants who, along with those of the majority of middle eastern Jews also effectively purged from their homelands, now comprise the second or largest Jewish community in the world.

    Show me an antisemite who isn’t also an anti-Zionist and I’ll show you an antisemite who either doesn’t exist or is in a tiny minority among antisemites.

  66. Pseudonym Says:

    “Chris Williams think ethnicity is unimportant? He’s a Welshman, from Bridgend.”

    News to me. I always thought that I was an Englishman from Dorset. Get your Chris Williamses straight, will you? That way lies libel actions.

  67. Dectora Says:

    I have now been put off joining UCU for good. In effect this is nothing more than a nasty bit of agitprop theatre, in that the ‘boycott’ cannot be implemented for sound legal and HR reasons and Cushman (the silly egomaniac) knows this.

  68. UCU speak Says:

    “You would have a much better case if you could produce examples of UCU people actually referring to “the Jews”. ”

    I don’t hate Jews, only countries run by Jews (and that includes the USA).

  69. Jon Pike Says:

    Commenters must absolutely stop insinuations and personal attacks against my colleague and friend, Chris Williams.

    Stop it now.

    Jon

  70. zkharya Says:

    “Chris Williams think ethnicity is unimportant? He’s a Welshman, from Bridgend.”

    News to me. I always thought that I was an Englishman from Dorset. Get your Chris Williamses straight, will you? That way lies libel actions.”

    I already apologised for that, Chris.

  71. Phil Says:

    Nobody has said Cushman et al. are not “real Jews” (your term, not ours)

    “the Jew-free UCU Congress”
    “there were no Jews left to bait”

    “Haim Bresheeth. John Rose. Michael Cushman. These are the Jews now, at UCU Congress.”

    If Bresheeth, Rose and Cushman are “real Jews”, then it’s not the case that the Congress was “Jew-free” or that “there were no Jews left”. Ergo, David is saying they’re not real Jews. In other words, he’s saying that he and his co-thinkers get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity.

    It’s just logic.

    Show me an antisemite who isn’t also an anti-Zionist

    Logic really isn’t your strong point, is it? I’m asking you to acknowledge that there are anti-Zionists who aren’t anti-semites, not the other way round.

  72. David Hirsh Says:

    Phil, I do think Bresheeth, Rose and Cushman are really Jews. Perhaps I expressed my point badly because I can see how what I wrote can be read in the way you read it.

    It is not my argument that Bresheeth, Rose and Cushman aren’t really Jews. Of course they are Jews.

    At UCU Congress they are not only Jews but they are now “The Jews”. They are the only Jews. They are the only Jewish voices.

    The point I am concerned by is this:

    Anti-Zionist Jews and Jews who are cowed into silence are the only Jews left at UCU Congress.

    Obviously there is serious Jewish opposition to the boycott both inside and outside of the union.

    That Jewish opposition no longer finds a voice at Congress.

    That is my point. Do you not find that a significant and concerning fact about our union?

  73. zkharya Says:

    Jon, I am sorry for any personal attacks or insinuations against your friend.

    But there were things he said which I think it perfectly legitimate to contest.

    For my own part I do think David may have gone too far in writing “Jew-free”. Had I thought about it, it is not a description I would have made nor defended.

    It seems to me, as I said, much more like the situation with the RSDLP, then with the Nazis (as I am sure David would agree).

    I defended David largely because he was there blogging what actually happened and he knows the situation down on the ground better than I or most here. And the union does seem to be losing Jewish members in droves.

    On the other hand, Chris seems to have “form”, as he might say, “insinuating” the anti-humanity of Zionism, and its essential antithesis to a position pro-Arab i.e. pro-humanity.

    Which he is entitled to do. But then to comment on a website like an Engage and accuse it of his a) and b), in the throes of a defeat such as has occured, was provocative. He cannot complain of vigorous response.

    And libel for what? Being mistakenly called a Welshman?

  74. Phil Says:

    That Jewish opposition no longer finds a voice at Congress.

    That is my point.

    With respect, that’s not the point you made. As I said earlier on, if Zionists are no longer able to organise within UCU, obviously that’s a problem (and I would join you in deploring it). But it’s a very different order of problem from the assertion that Jews are no longer able to be members of UCU.

  75. zkharya Says:

    “‘Nobody has said Cushman et al. are not “real Jews” (your term, not ours)’

    “the Jew-free UCU Congress”
    “there were no Jews left to bait”

    “Haim Bresheeth. John Rose. Michael Cushman. These are the Jews now, at UCU Congress.”

    “If Bresheeth, Rose and Cushman are “real Jews”, then it’s not the case that the Congress was “Jew-free” or that “there were no Jews left”. Ergo, David is saying they’re not real Jews.”

    No. Not “ergo” “not real Jews”. Not “Jewish in the sense of adducing their Jewishness in a capacity other then to criticize Israel or Zionism to a largely non-Jewish (i.e. gentile audience)”.

    David can correct me, if he wishes.

    You know what, Phil. To some degree, I will concede your point. David was wrong. He shouldn’t have written “Jew-free”. He should have simply left it at largely Jew-free but for non-Jewish Jews and Trotskiites.

    As I said, the situation is more like the RSDLP. I didn’t write David’s account, and I shouldn’t have uncritically defended it. It is largely, it seems to me, but not entirely, correct.

    “In other words, he’s saying that he and his co-thinkers get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity.”

    Well, if that is what he and “his co-thinkers” are saying, that they and they alone “get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity”, then they are mistaken.

    With one proviso: the extent to which non-Jewish Jewist Trotskiites see themselves as part of any Jewish ethnic group or ethnicity is a moot point. Those Bolshevik Jewish members of the RSDLP, those that got to make and/or enforce party policy, did not, and tended to adduce their Jewishness only when promoting or actively deconstructing or dissolving such a notion and the reality it represented.

    But I do not think that +that+, above, is what David or I am saying. The small band of non-Jewish Jewish radical leftists/Trots who are so vociferous in congress are so unrepresentative of Jewish academic, never mind mainstream opinion, that something is wrong.

    Like I said, it is like the RSDLP when it began its dissolution of what had once been the largest single proletarian socialist grouping withing the party, the Jewish socialist nationalist Bund.

    However. I am glad to see, Phil, that you leave uncontested my formulations and attributes to non-Jewish Jewish Trotskiites.

    “It’s just logic.”

    Well, as I said, I should have read David more critically.

    “‘Show me an antisemite who isn’t also an anti-Zionist’ Logic really isn’t your strong point, is it? I’m asking you to acknowledge that there are anti-Zionists who aren’t anti-semites, not the other way round.”

    If that’s what you’re asking, than I surely do acknowledge it. I take it you acknowledge my formulation too.

  76. zkharya Says:

    “But it’s a very different order of problem from the assertion that Jews are no longer able to be members of UCU.”

    David didn’t make that assertion.

    • Bill Says:

      But arguably to be a uncloseted Jew, to be a socially acceptable member of the UCU, you must conform to what Cushman et al say you must be. Otherwise you are a “Zionist” with all the invalidation of your professional and union bonafides that Cushman & co decide. Would a zionist jew in the UCU get the support of their BDS supporting union representatives? Hmmm?

      So yes you can be an “out” Jew and be in the union. But only as second class citizens and at the pleasure of the self-anointed queen bees.

  77. David Hirsh Says:

    Phil, you say “with respect”.

    I’ll take that at face value.

    Read the whole piece that I wrote, read it with respect.

    And respond to the central point.

  78. zkharya Says:

    Look, I want to apologise for attacking or insinuating anyone, especially if it turns them off Engage.

    In addition to my PhD, all I have are my opinions, and this is often my only place to express or discuss them.

    I feel strongly about what has happened and expressed my opinions strongly, perhaps too strongly. So, if I offended or gratuitously insulted anyone, including if not especially Chris Williams, I apologise.

  79. Pseudonym Says:

    Following Jon’s timely and welcome intervention, I’m going to leave it at that. Zhkarya, I was concerned that my namesake, whom I imagine that you were confusing me with, might have had some undeserved mud stick to him, so thought myself under a moral obligation to him to make my identity clear, in order to save him from the potential bother of having to sue you. Which has the collateral effect of saving you from the potential bother of being sued, of course.

    Chris Williams

  80. Malfunction in the University and College Union « Greens Engage Says:

    [...] branch representatives at Conference, the supreme policy-making body of the union. David Hirsh worries about the absence of Jewish voices speaking against the boycott at Conference, and he is right to [...]

  81. NIMN Says:

    The division between “Jews” and “Zionists” is spurious.

    It is no different that saying that the only reason we attack Jews is as capitalists.

    The only reason we attack Jews is because they are communists.

    Now, the only reason we attack Jews are because they are Zionists or happen to live in a Jewish state

    In each of these cases there are Jews who are “excpetions” to this rule and those attacking Jews point to the exceptions as evidence that they are not antisemites.

    What has not be asked or answered, and which places the burden of proof upon the boycotters, is why this immense effort around Israel, around the Jewish state. What makes that state and no other state the target for such acts out of the 200 or so states in the world? Cooincidence? Israel is the most evil state in the world? hardly.

    The tactic of boycott has been a common weapon of antisemites used against Jews. It is being used now against the Jewish state? Coincidence, Israel the most evil state in the world? hardly.

    Finally, if UCU was serious about the distinction it would not treat antisemitism (as Cushman does) as a clever ploy by Zionists. It would take seriously its own collusion in anti-Jewish sentiment. It does not. Why, because it thinks Jews lie.

    Objectively, historically and politically, the boycott is antisemitism. Hiding behind the myth of “Zionists” not “Jews” obscures the real situation of antisemitism in the UCU.

  82. Absolute Observer Says:

    Jon,
    Williams may well be your friend.
    But the tone of his first comment about “crying wolf” about “not being afraid of us” was both unnecessary and connects with the way those oppose the boycott have been treated in UCU when trying to raise the question of antisemitism.

    The paragraph that Z linked to argues the Jews gain from antisemitism. Again, another myth propounded by antisemitic discourse.

    Taken together these types of thought is precisely those UCU uses to dismiss concerns of antisemitism brought up by Jews.

    Why is it encumbent upon Engage posters to be nice to people who are making lives of Jewish academics in the Union and their workplace increasingly difficult and unpleasant? Maybe you need to have a word with your friend and tell him why he has got it wrong.

  83. Absolute Observer Says:

    “we should have asked for a count to rub salt into the wound.”

    Maybe he thinks that would make all us anti-boycott Jews as kosher as he is!

  84. NIMN Says:

    “I’m asking you to acknowledge that there are anti-Zionists who aren’t anti-semites”………………….

    I think the better formulation would be, show me a critic of Israel who is not also an antisemite. That would be easy.

    But, “anti-Zionst” who is not also an anti-semite; that one is more tricky.

    I assume that to answer that question, we would need to define the terms “Zionist” and “anti-Zionst”.

    E.g. the “anti-Zionist” who argues that Jews should not have a national state is antisemitic; as too those who argue that Israel is illegitimate (since Israel is an entirely legitimate state, recognised as such in International Law, etc.).

    If an “anti-Zionist” is someone who thinks the settlements are wrong, the treatment of Palestinians is wrong, then, that position ceases to be “anti-Zionst” and becomes a criticic of Israel (which is not to say that such criticism does not ger infected with antisemitic rhetoric – i.e. Israel can get away with it because of the power of the Lobby or the control of the press, etc.) Likewise such a view is entirely commensurate with being a “Zionst”.

    If an “anti-Zionist” is someone who thinks Jews lie about antisemitism (Cushman and others) then that is antisemitic. UCU showed that 344 at Congress were antisemitic regardless of whether they were anti-Zionist or critics of Israel.

  85. Phil Says:

    E.g. the “anti-Zionist” who argues that Jews should not have a national state is antisemitic

    Unless of course he or she is Orthodox or a Bundist, or for that matter a Gush Shalom type. (Best of luck telling Uri Avnery he’s “non-Jewish”.) Amos Oz quotes someone saying the whole idea of a Jewish nation state was bad & un-Jewish – goyim naches.

    My problem with almost all the comments here – not to mention the OP – is that they start by assuming what they set out to prove, and then assert that they’ve proved it. See? See? Anti-Zionists are anti-semitic – look, this one even says outright that he’s anti-Zionist! Works fine among people who share the same assumption, not so well more widely.

  86. Bill Says:

    “News to me. I always thought that I was an Englishman from Dorset. Get your Chris Williamses straight, will you? That way lies libel actions.”

    Chris->Pseudo

    And I thought I was a WASP from North Carolina. But in the eyes of the BDSers and similar types, so what? Years ago at a party, I witnessed a bonafide European Christian who didn’t criticize Israel enough be told in nasty terms “you’re not a European your a Jew.” When I and a *few* others took the Neo-Jew’s back, we too were suspected of being “Jews” (I even had someone with prejudicial skepticism ask where my WASPish but not-so-common surname came from). That was my wake-up moment.

    To borrow a phrase form the original Trot, you may not be interested in your ethnicity, but ethnicity (or people who live and die by identity politics) is interested in you.

    As for people being Jews and not-Jews, this isn’t about being Jews or not-Jews, this is about being “Good Jews” and “Bad Jews.” “Good Jews” reject even the most benign definition of Zionism, preferring to live at the ephemeral mercy of people who will turn to antisemetic stereotypes and conspiracy (like the hidden hand of the global Jewish conspiracy having an say in the anti-boycott movement) or worse when things turn south. Bad Jews are any Jew that doesn’t drink the chunky milk, says that it’s unacceptable to cite anything that goes through DavidDuke.Com (!), or hold any view contrary to the boycotters — even (and I’d argue ESPECIALLY) if they are open, clear and articulate in their criticism of Israeli policy.

    You may argue that David Hirsh (The Badass Jew, “we can dig it!”) over the top in using the phrase Jew-Free Congress (but is it really any worse then the rhetoric of the boycott? or does David have to rise above everything while they rise above nothing with zero reciprocity), but one thing is for sure. In what he said is a nasty fact that’s getting harder to avoid. The congress set the stage that to be a Good Jew (with the right to be out of the closet — for now) or otherwise be accepted into the university organized labor community As-a-Jew, you must stop being yourself and start being what Cushman, Rose et al, and the keepers of the authentic UCU-Jew specs say what you must be.

    And that’s not just antisemetic. It’s racist. We shouldn’t stand for this for any ethnic group.

  87. David Hirsh Says:

    “…they start by assuming what they set out to prove, and then assert that they’ve proved it.”

    Phil, what you say isn’t true.

    My piece starts by giving six documented examples of Mike Cushman’s problematic, to say the least, relationship with antisemitism.

    1 he supports an exclusion of Israelis and only Israelis from our campuses

    2 he is soft on David Duke’s conspiracy thoery

    3 he employs antisemitic stereotypes – Jews like universities, Jews know what it is like to be excluded from universities, lets exclude them from universities.

    4 Cushman has been praised by Iranian state propaganda and he didn’t do anything to distance himself from that praise

    5 At congress Cushman opposed the ammendment to take out the support for Hamas.

    6 I linked to Cushman’s gushing article about meeting Hamas notables

    It then goes on to point out that there are no Jews left at UCU Congress to oppose the boycott.

    • Bill Says:

      “2 he is soft on David Duke’s conspiracy theory”

      And in this, David Duke gets the victory he probably never anticipated. One of Duke’s mandate as a KKK leader was to mainstream the Klan’s image from being a bunch of white trash in sheets to a more suburban thinking-man’s racist by showing a man in a suit who could tap into internalized prejudices of otherwise “good people.”

      Most people didn’t buy it…. save for one major WTF moment in the late 80s/early 90s, only people who already crossed the racist rubicon were with him….

      …Until someone posted his stuff to a UCU listserve and everyone suddenly didn’t want the messenger shot. Great Job, Mike! Mission accomplished David!

  88. NIMN Says:

    Phil,
    It is interesting that in your response to my comment you talk about me calling some Jewish people as “non-Jews”. If you re-read my comment I did not mention the word “Jew” once.
    I spoke about the concepts of “Zionist” and “antisemitism”. Yet, you seem to reduce them to a species of “identity politics” and proceed to criticise my words on that basis by pointing to given individual and given groups. I could response by showing how individuals in the Palestinian Solidarity Movement have referred to “International Jewry”, how some use the myth of an all-powerful Israel Lobby, etc. and so forth. Such an argument would, as we know, be plain facile. Since, as Saul noted, it is common practice to wheel out exceptions.
    (But, as they say, “exceptions prove the rule”).

    I recall that when Thatcher became PM, every reactionary in town used it to argue against feminist claims about gender inequality.

    I can point to a number of women professors in the UK, that does not hide the fact of gender discrimination within UK HE

    I am aware too that people point to Barak Obama to point to the end of racism in the USA.

    And, now Phil, you are pointing to a rump political movement, a peace activist in Israel, a lunatic religious cult and Amos Oz!!

    It is also a fact that the very same people who voted for the boycott voted down a motion on antisemitism within the Union. Cushman celebrates this fact as a defeat against “Zionism” as if the struggle against antisemitism is not only a ploy by Zionists, but of no concern to anti-racists as a matter of principle.

    As I say, “Zionism” and “antisemitism” are historical, political and social concepts; they are not matters of opinion, no matter how much some would like to reduce it to that level.

  89. NIMN Says:

    May I ask, Phil whether you believe Jews should have a “national state”. If not, why not?

    May I ask you too whether you think it was right for UCU to vote down a motion that took antisemitism within the UCU seriously?

    May I ask you why it is you think that UCU chose to vote to boycott Israel as opposed to other states?

    After all, it would be a terrible misunderstanding if some think that you are setting out by assuming what it is that you wish to prove; i.e. that anti-zionism is not antisemitism.

    Thanks.

  90. Joshua Says:

    “Works fine among people who share the same assumption, not so well more widely.”

    Judea Pearl writes:

    “Many condemn anti-Zionism for being a flimsy cover for anti-Semitism. I disagree. The order is wrong. I condemn anti-Semitism for being an instrument for a worse form of racism: anti-Zionism.

    In other words, I submit that anti-Zionism is a form of racism more dangerous than classical anti-Semitism. Framing anti-Zionism as racism is precisely the weapon that our students need for survival on campus.

    Anti-Zionism earns its racist character from denying the Jewish people what it grants to other collectives (e.g. Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood and self-determination.”

    http://tinyurl.com/mgn4h2

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Joshua, I am not myself an anti-Zionist but I feel the need to point out that there are principled anti-Zionists – they are anti-nationalists and they don’t start with Israel, they start with other states (like Belgium and Canada, which threaten to split). Or perhaps the Israelis, like Meron Benvenisti with his vision of borderless coexistence, do start with Israel – and that is their priority because they actually live there, and it’s a democracy. I’m not familiar with the sayings of Judea Pearl and maybe you quote out of context, but what you do quote is plain wrong.

      • Joshua Says:

        “Joshua, I am not myself an anti-Zionist but I feel the need to point out that there are principled anti-Zionists – they are anti-nationalists and they don’t start with Israel, they start with other states (like Belgium and Canada, which threaten to split).”

        There is all the difference in the world between those who believe that Canada and Belgium should be split up into their component parts, or at least some of them, and the individuals who actively seek either to destroy Israel or alternatively create conditions under which it would be impossible for the vast majority of Israeli Jews to remain in their homeland.

        “Or perhaps the Israelis, like Meron Benvenisti with his vision of borderless coexistence, do start with Israel – and that is their priority because they actually live there,”

        Every country in the world has its traitors of one sort or another. That they are being motivated by a particular ideology or a certain principle does not alter what they are. Also, as you well know, there are many ideologies and principles that are utterly wicked.

        “I’m not familiar with the sayings of Judea Pearl and maybe you quote out of context”

        I imagined that everyone here would be familiar with Daniel Pearl’s father which is why I provided no background. And if you had any doubts about the context, you only had to follow the link I provided.

        Dr. Judea Pearl

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judea_Pearl

  91. zkharya Says:

    “Unless of course he or she is Orthodox or a Bundist, or for that matter a Gush Shalom type.”

    Most Orthodox are pro-Zionist. Ultra-orthodox are a different mattter. But they are still content to be heavily subsidized by the Jewish state. The Bund are to all intents and purposes extinct or Israeli. In any case, they were also Jewish nationalists.

    The largely non-Jewish Jewish ultra-leftists or Trots at UCU congress are by and large not Orthodox (nor even Reform or Liberal), not Bundists and certainly in no shape nor form Jewish nationalists.

    As for Uri Avnery, none of the non-Jewish Jewish Trots have his love for Israel or are as committed as he to two states and the utter rejection of one state.

    In fact pretty much the default position of the SWP-UCU faction is one state, as expressed by UCU-SWP member John Rose at Socialist Unity here:

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=15350

    or a Socialist Worker editorial here:

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=16790

    And you never did define what you meant by “Zionist”, Phil.

  92. David Lieberman Says:

    Phil,

    I’m reposting these questions (with some bracketed edits and additions) because I suspect they were lost to the discussion as embedded responses above. I really do think they merit some response.

    You seem to acknowledge that the only Jews apparently welcome in the UCU are those who endorse the UCU’s anti-Zionist ideology. You also seem to acknowledge [or at least do not dispute] that anti-Zionist Jews represent a very tiny fraction of the Jewish population. You therefore seem quite content with a UCU that has alienated a large percentage of the Jewish population. This is fine with you: as long as no one can point to some official statement from the UCU explicitly stating “No Jews need apply,” the reality that Jews are increasingly alienated from the UCU can be handily overlooked. The problem is with them, after all, not with you, and not with the UCU. They’re not being excluded after all, just driven away, so where’s the harm?

    You must certainly be aware that major antisemitic movements have always been able to count on a small number of disaffected Jews to validate their agendas. Your incessant harping on this phony argument about who is a real Jew makes for a very nice dodge, but what I would really like to see you address is this: how do you define antisemitism, and what about the behavior of the UCU as it willfully alienates the majority of Jews in its ranks differs from antisemitism? I also notice your reluctance to take on the question that has been raised repeatedly in this discussion: once people like Bresheeth, Rose and Cushman have cut themselves off from any meaningful association with the Jewish community, what besides “race” is left to define them as Jews? Are you really comfortable relying on that criterion as basis for arguing that there was meaningful Jewish representation at the Congress? [Zkharya has repeatedly observed that they follow an observable historical pattern: they opportunistically emphasize their Jewish ancestry in order to promote policies which are inimicable to the interests of many Jews -- in this case, Israeli Jews. In what sense is this comparison inapplicable?]

    [By the way, your appeal to orthodox anti-Zionists in the context of the "who is a real Jew" debate could hardly be more cynical. Members of Neturei Karta routinely deny the authentic Jewish identities of Israeli Zionists and their diaspora supporters. To the extent that they demand the immediate dismantling of the Zionist state and anticipate with a kind of messianic glee the suffering and displacement of millions of its citizens, it is certainly within bounds to say that their movement harbors ill-will toward a large segment of the population which the rest of the world would define as Jewish, an attitude that is rather difficult to distinguish from antisemitism, regardless of who hold it.]

  93. David Lieberman Says:

    Phil: “Unless of course he or she is Orthodox or a Bundist, or for that matter a Gush Shalom type.”

    According to their website, Gush Shalom argues for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and the establishment of a bi-national capital in Jerusalem. In what sense does this qualify as “argu[ing] that the Jews should not have a national state”?

  94. Phil Says:

    he employs antisemitic stereotypes – Jews like universities, Jews know what it is like to be excluded from universities, lets exclude them from universities

    Really? The remark I’m aware of is

    “Universities are to Israel what the Springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.”

    Again, you seem to be assuming what you set out to prove – that when someone says “Israel” they mean “Jews”.

    But all that is background to this specific post, which

    goes on to point out that there are no Jews left at UCU Congress to oppose the boycott.

    Again, the remark you seized on was “The Zionists bareley showed up” – which says nothing about whether there were any Jews in the room. In fact, you say yourself that there were Jews in the room – only they either didn’t feel able to vote against the boycott or actually don’t oppose it (bad Jews! non-Jewish Jews!)

    Let’s be clear, I’m very much in favour of freedom to organise and freedom of expression, even of deeply unpopular minority views (which, in the context of the British political mainstream, Zionism clearly isn’t). If UCU has been stitched up to the extent that Zionists don’t even feel able to be outvoted, of course that’s a problem. But there aren’t any yellow stars being handed out here.

  95. 701 Says:

    I note that this weeks THES talks about the boycott motion coming from Palestine.
    The boycott call came from British academics.

  96. zkharya Says:

    Here’s a piece by Avneri in which he admits he is a Zionist. He admits that Zionism entailed, as he sees it, injustice for Palestinian Christians and Muslims but

    “We must acknowledge and recognize the consequences of our deeds and repair what can be repaired – without rejecting our past and the songs that express the innocence of our youth…We must live with this contradiction, because it is the truth of our lives.”

    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1239519715/

    That is an altogether more sophisticated view than the sledgehammers of Michael Cushmam, SWP and the Trots.

  97. Absolute Observer Says:

    Most Jews are zionists. Zionism is a legitimate aspect of Jewish modern history and identity, regardless of those who accept or deny it and no matter how much they may like it or not like it.

    Anti-zionism denies and seeks to deminise that aspect of Jewish identity. It is antisemitic.

    As such, it is no different from those antisemites who say we “only” oppose Jews because they eat kosher food.

    Wheeling out those Jews who eat pork and say, see, kosher is distinct from Jews and Judaism, and so our opposition to only kosher Jews is not antisemitic is as absurd as saying that we only oppose Jews who are Zionists.

    Or we only “oppose” those Jews who will not marry those from other faiths, and then wheel out those who have chosen to do so and then argue, see, marrying within the religion and being Jewish is not intrinsically linked and so, how can we be “antisemitic”? It is as absurd as saying that we only oppose Jews who are Zionists.

  98. Absolute Observer Says:

    As to the kosher example that is why the STUC motion is repellent. It claims that it won’t stop Jews buying kosher food from Israel.

    As is often the case, it is the antisemites who are telling Jews what is and is not acceptable to being Jewish at this moment of time.

    How is that in any different from those in the animal rights movement who tell Jews that kosher meat is not an aspect of their being Jewish and seeking to boycott kosher meat products at the same supermarkets as the “anti=Zionists” boycotting Israeli products.

    Both groups will argue that their actions are legitimated by what they see as Jews’ inhumane acts. Having a Jew or two in their ranks supporting their nonsense , and claiming kosher is not necessary to being Jewish does not change the matter one iota.

  99. Phil Says:

    You therefore seem quite content with a UCU that has alienated a large percentage of the Jewish population.

    As I said to zkharya, you’d get on a lot better if you confined yourself to words people have actually written. Nowhere did I say this. Let me quote you what I actually did say with regard to this issue, which was:

    “if Zionists are no longer able to organise within UCU, obviously that’s a problem (and I would join you in deploring it). But it’s a very different order of problem from the assertion that Jews are no longer able to be members of UCU.”

    My only purpose in commenting here was to insist that David had made a category error. “Zionist” does not equal “Jew”. “Israel” does not equal “the Jews”. If someone denounces the state of Israel, that doesn’t license the inference that their politics is antisemitic. If someone prefers not to associate with Zionists, that doesn’t mean they hate Jews. And Michael Cushman was not describing a “Jew-free UCU Congress”. These are very simple and self-evident points, although I can see that commenters here have got an awful lot invested in denying them.

    your appeal to orthodox anti-Zionists in the context of the “who is a real Jew” debate could hardly be more cynical

    Not cynical, just reminding you of a group of people who are (a) undeniably Jews and (b) undeniably anti-Zionist.

    To those of you asking for clarification on what I personally believe, why? What difference would it make? Either the very specific definitional argument I’m advancing here is correct or it isn’t.

    Oh, and on Gush Shalom, I stand corrected. I know I’ve heard Avnery advocate a single state, but maybe he was talking about ideas he’d held in the past.

    I’ve said all I came to say, and repeated it more times than I intended to. Ta-ta.

  100. zkharya Says:

    Phil: “But there aren’t any yellow stars being handed out here.”

    Who said there were?

    But what do you mean by “Zionist”, Phil?

  101. Howard Moss Says:

    I’ve just got back from the UCU Congress. I couldn’t attend the first day when the neo-boycott motions were put, but, regardless of the rantings of Cushman and Co., I think it’s a pity Engage didn’t have a stall and its own fringe meeting there as it did last year. I say that not because it would have changed anything that happened in the hall, but it would have at least have reminded the insidious SWP obsessives such as Hickey and the half-crazed ranters such as Cushman that out there, in the UCU membership, is an overwhelming majority who, if given a simple democratic vote, would sweep away the nonsense that the Congress, with it so-called ‘delegates’, affirms to be the view of the union. In reality – and they all know this at bottom – there is not a single branch or local association of UCU that, in a one person one vote situation, would give more than the most minimal support to the policies that prevail at Congress.

    • David Hirsh Says:

      As I understand it, Howard, we were told that we couldn’t have a stall because we were not an affiliated organization.

  102. zkharya Says:

    There are laws in this country, Phil, about discrimination that falls well short of handing out yellow or any other stars.

  103. zkharya Says:

    “‘goes on to point out that there are no Jews left at UCU Congress to oppose the boycott.’

    Again, the remark you seized on was “The Zionists bareley showed up” – which says nothing about whether there were any Jews in the room.”

    It says a lot about the kind of Jews that are welcome at UCU congress, and the kind that aren’t.

  104. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Phil: “Really? The remark I’m aware of is

    “Universities are to Israel what the Springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.”

    Again, you seem to be assuming what you set out to prove – that when someone says “Israel” they mean “Jews”.”

    In what way is this different from Hickey’s comment that “(a)nd we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.” You clearly subscribe to Hickey’s view and are, therefore, equally racist and antisemitic. There are no other words for it, and the only possible response from you is a grovelling apology.

    We won’t get it, because you are apparently incapable of seeing the facts when they sit up and slap you round the face. No change there from the rest of your BDS buddies. They too are incapable of seeing the truth when it stands in front of them and says “hallo”.

  105. Inna Says:

    Phil–

    Ask Mike Cushman why he sought fit to post this on the forums?

    “In the US there are 13 Jews in the Senate and 30 in the House of Representatives, while in the UK, where we
    have a Jewish community 20 times smaller, – there are many more Jewish people in Parliament, There are 18 in the House of Commons and 41 in the House of Lords
    –. It is the highest Jewish representation in the West, and this achievement is due in part to Tony Blair’s patronage….

    “One of Blair’s first acts on becoming an MP in 1983 was to join Labour Friends of Israel. But the major change only occurred after he rose to control of the Labour party. To carry out his planned policies, he needed to try to break the
    funding influence of the trade unions. So he needed an ally with ample funds.”

    It goes on and on

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JustPeaceUK/message/25717

    Apparently Cushman is offline at the moment but you can e-mail him about this work of art and ask him why he thinks posting such stuff will promote peace rather than hate.

    Here is how you contact him on this particular forum:

    http://profiles.yahoo.com/mikecushman

    Regards,

    Inna

  106. zkharya Says:

    “As I said to zkharya, you’d get on a lot better if you confined yourself to words people have actually written.”

    And you’d get on a lot better, Phil, if you not only confined yourself to what I’ve said but occasionally adduced rather than asserted it.

  107. zkharya Says:

    “Zionist” does not equal “Jew”. “Israel” does not equal “the Jews”.

    1) Phil, when are you finally going to actually define what you mean by “Zionist”?

    2) if by “Zionist” you mean some kind of sympathy for the Jewish state and the movement and situation that bore it then a very good case can be made that most Jews, including most Jewish academics are Zionist, in which case

    3) why can a very good case be made that UCU congress is seeking to exclude them,

    4) while the Jewish state of Israel may not be all or even most Jews in the world, it may be where most European and Middle Eastern Jews and their descendants, post-1914, those who survived, ended up, making it the second or largest Jewish community in the world today, in which case

    5) why likewise the SWP-UCU congress obsession with deconstructing or delegimitizing it out of existence?

  108. zkharya Says:

    “Phil: “Really? The remark I’m aware of is

    “Universities are to Israel what the Springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.”…Again, you seem to be assuming what you set out to prove – that when someone says “Israel” they mean “Jews”.””

    I am afraid, Phil, this is an utterly bogus argument on your part. Cushman’s argument is rooted in a widespread stereotype of Jews as afficionados of education. It is a Jewish stereotype he is applying to the Jewish state of Israel.

    If you can’t spot that then, frankly, you have no business commenting on matters of Jewish history or discourse, whether as an academic or anything else.

  109. zkharya Says:

    “In the US there are 13 Jews in the Senate and 30 in the House of Representatives, while in the UK, where we
    have a Jewish community 20 times smaller, – there are many more Jewish people in Parliament, There are 18 in the House of Commons and 41 in the House of Lords
    –. It is the highest Jewish representation in the West, and this achievement is due in part to Tony Blair’s patronage….”

    Whoa. Cushman said that?

    • Inna Says:

      Someboody named Janine Roberts did. Cushman reposted herr article without comment on that forum.

      Regards,

      Inna

  110. zkharya Says:

    “Not cynical, just reminding you of a group of people who are (a) undeniably Jews and (b) undeniably anti-Zionist.”

    Well, I never denied the SWP- Jewish Trots were Jews. I simply said they were non-Jewish Jews. Not even you, Phil, that such creatures exist. And UCU congress is their menagerie, where they come out to coo and make love to each other.

  111. zkharya Says:

    Incidentally just found this BBC documentary on Rudolph Kaztner in which Avneri is interviewed:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00kps7k/Storyville_20082009_The_Jew_who_Dealt_with_Nazis_Killing_Kasztner/

  112. Danny Smircky Says:

    Zkharya, no Cushman didn’t say that. He seems to have approved of it, but those are not his words.

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/mike-cushmans-protocols-moment/

  113. zkharya Says:

    OK, Danny, thanks.

  114. Absolute Observer Says:

    By what authority, halachic or other does Phil base his claim that Jews don’t equal Zionist and Zionist does not equal Jew.
    That is a line pushed by a few individuals who want that to be the case. As noted, empirically and theoretically, the opposite is the case. Jews identify with Israel and, as so many comment, Israel identifies with the Jews. Israel is a fundamental part of modern Jewish history (at one point in the minority, but more recently, i.e. after the Holocaust, the majority). Prior to the modern era, the identification was “spiritual”, but, in keeping with the general historical trends, it became “concrete” in the age of nation-states. Zionism – as in the right of the Jews to a nation-state – is, for better or worse – part and parcel of being Jewish.

    Whilst it would appear only Phil who defines Jews into “good” Jews and “bad” Jews (apart from that idiot Joshua), there is little doubt that Cushman not only thinks he is a “good” Jew but he is an “authentic” Jew. In reality, of course, his “authenticity” rests upon the freezing of a couple of decades of Jewish history that he mistakes for a universal Jewish “essence”. It is the same nonsense that leads Jews to make the racist argument (Arendt) that Jews are more moral than other people.

    As Himmler said, “everyone has there good Jews”. For the antizionists, Cushman et al are “good Jews”. For me, Cushman is or is not a Jew is irrelevant. He pushes antisemitism on various sites. He pushes antisemitism in the UCU. And, because, it is he, not Engage, that divides the world into “good Jews” (anti-zionists) and bad Jews (Zionists) and seeks to boycott the latter whilst exonerating the former, it is he who has fallen into antisemitic ways of thinking.

    As to the notion of Jews and education. As Z notes, it is a stereotype. Like all stereotypes, it has some basis in history. However, the idea of the “educated” Jew, i.e. of the young men who were schooled in the Torah and Talmud formed only a small proportion of the pre-Holocaust Jewish communities, as did the educated “assimilated” Jew. The majority of Jews in Europe up to the late 1930′s were peasants, artisans, peddlers, cobblers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. Likewise in Israel.

    But, then, of course, the “clever Jew” has a long and infamous pedigree that, in the face of actual history, Cushman is, in peddling.

    And it is also interesting to note Phil’s use of the “they’re are two types of Jews”. In the old days, it used to be those who were like non-Jews and those who were “good wth money”, “tight”, “greedy”, etc. Today, the “two types” are “anti-Zionist” and “Zionist”. In the old days, the left used to recognise it for what it is. Today, they push it themselves.

    Put briefly. Jews don’t give a flying f*** how Phil, Cushman, Rose, Hickey seek to define them. Zionism is part of being Jewish. A boycott of Israel is a boycott of Jews. It is antisemitism, pure and simple. All their attempts to define “who is” and “who is not” a Jew is not only meaningless for Jews (they are not the first to try and do it), but is itself an expression of their antisemitism. After all, who is it in England that spend all their time defining who and who is not “English” and who and who is not a “Muslim” – racists!

  115. Erick Says:

    It’s not the first time this has happened in history, in russia there was the Anti-zionist Committee of the Soviet Public, which was composed mainly of “jews”(mosly asimilated) who served as puppets of the soviet government to destroy all traces of jewish identity, which even by some antizionists today, are considered zionist and dangerous.
    I know the ISM tries to recruit as many people of jewish descent, which, as we all know, has no efect on the cultural identity of oneself, but it holds the idea that it cannot profess antisemitism.
    Quoting the extremist Karta and true torah groups is just a biased sample and that zionism is not the only mainstream idea rejected by them, but they even go to holocaust denial conferences and have other uncomfortable little facts that make much of the jewish reluctant to recognize them.
    Furthermore i would like to know just how far groups like JfJfP are really independent and not just organs of the UCU or some ideogical faction. Have they ever oposed them or something?
    I don’t know the situation their and i don’t know the afiliation of the jewish students in the union to their peoplehood in relationship to their ideological position.

    I’ve been following engage for some time now, i never commented before but i want to start so!
    Great page!

  116. Bill Says:

    “As I understand it, Howard, we were told that we couldn’t have a stall because we were not an affiliated organization.”

    David, were any antiboycott organizations allowed any real estate (virtual or physical or agenda-wise) at this meeting? Based on what you’ve said here, it sounds like those opposing the boycott were procedurally written out completely from being able to raise a flag or speak in any official capacity of consequence. If so, it speaks volumes of how the UCU is not representing the rank-n-file, nor is it even providing the rank-n-file a voice. If that’s the case what is (and can be) your way forward on this?

  117. David Lieberman Says:

    Phil (responding to me) “‘You therefore seem quite content with a UCU that has alienated a large percentage of the Jewish population.’ As I said to zkharya, you’d get on a lot better if you confined yourself to words people have actually written. Nowhere did I say this.”

    Nowhere do I quote you as saying this. I interpreted your general position this way, based on the rather complaisant attitude you appear to be taking in the face of a rather troubling phenomenon. Faced with an atmosphere in which hostility toward a substantial segment of the Jewish population seems to be widening and deepening within UCU, you seem rather more interested in arguing with the targets of that hostility over how it ought to be defined than with the proponents of said hostility.

    It is true that you also said, “if Zionists are no longer able to organise within UCU, obviously that’s a problem (and I would join you in deploring it). But it’s a very different order of problem from the assertion that Jews are no longer able to be members of UCU.”

    With respect the to your conditional proposition, I suppose the key questions to ask are: are Zionists indeed no longer able to organize within the UCU, and, if so, do you indeed find that deplorable, and, if so, what if any action will you take to express your displeasure? If, on the other hand, you short circuit the need to respond to the second and third questions by answering no to the first, what evidence can you provide that Zionists are able to organize within UCU?

    With respect to the second claim concerning “order of problem,” I think it would be helpful to lay out the propositions that inform my understanding of the argument:

    1. The large majority of Jews in Israel and the diaspora are sympathetic to Zionism.

    2. The UCU Congress is hostile to Zionism.

    3. The UCU Congress is hostile to those who are (openly) sympathetic to Zionism.

    Therefore, the UCU Congress is hostile to the large majority of Jews.

    I think this conclusion, while not synonymous with the claim to which you object, i.e., “that Jews are no longer able to be members of UCU,” resonates rather well with it. I would describe the objectionable claim as a sort of shorthand description of a situation that increasingly obtains, rather than as a description of an authoritative policy stated and enforced by UCU.

    If an organization that has adopted an openly hostile attitude toward the large majority of the world’s Jewish population — and which has explicitly and by democratic process offically dismissed and ridiculed the very notion that antisemitism in and of itself ought to be considered a problem — if such an organization cannot be properly described as “antisemitic,” then what can? I take from assertions you have made in this thread that your notion of what properly constitutes antisemitism must involve the distribution of yellow stars (your imagery, not mine) or the explicit declaration of an exclusionary policy toward Jews. Personally, I’d rather not wait until things reach the beatings-in-the-street stage before I’m willing to take the problem seriously.

  118. Vlad the Impaler Says:

    Phil, Chris, Jon,

    UCU is a threat to mainstream Ango Jewry. The BDS movement makes life very uncomfortable for Jewish students and Jewish academics from a mainstream normative Jewish background. The way the label Zionist is used is of itself demonizing. Its culturally imperialist – it invades the autonomy of mainstream Jews to self definition and creates a shallow, 2 dimensional image of Jewish identity – just as seven Jewish children does – its fundamentally false and ultimatley leaves us vulnerable to oppression – I think the term is dehumanisation. Throughout history there have been Jews who have been tools of our oppressors – isolate the cases where no Jews have been instrumental in that oppression and you are left wth very few.

  119. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I posted the following comment a couple of days ago. While he has replied to others since, he hasn’t to this. Strange that, I thought this was a fairly straightforward point to respond to.

    Phil: “Really? The remark I’m aware of is
    ‘Universities are to Israel what the Springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.’

    Again, you seem to be assuming what you set out to prove – that when someone says “Israel” they mean “Jews”.”

    In what way is this different from Hickey’s comment that “(a)nd we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.” You clearly subscribe to Hickey’s view and are, therefore, equally racist and antisemitic. There are no other words for it, and the only possible response from you is a grovelling apology.

    I’m still waiting for that response.

  120. Pseudonym Says:

    I was hoping I’d be able to stay out of this following Jon’s welcome intervention, but it seems that I need to back some things up.

    I’m glad to see that that David H has, in his response to Phil, gone some way towards at least re-assessing the formulation that sent me off on one in the first place. I’d kept this post up the spout in the hope that this would be the end of it, but since it doesn’t seem to be, here’s a response.

    I note that that post of mine on the CASI list, in which I forcefully advocated the absolute unacceptability of the Iraq solidarity movement having anything to do with the advocates of holocaust denial, [http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2002/msg00057.html] appears to be read here as evidence that I’m a secret anti-semite, rather than merely an overt anti-Zionist. Readers are welcome to search through the CASI archive to look for evidence, but I think that you are mainly going to find that I’m an annoyingly consistent ultra-leftist, who was usually the first to stamp on manifestations of anti-semitism on that list.

    However, I’d like to retract this phrase:
    “It plays into their hands by strengthening a central tenet of racist Zionism, which holds that all anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism. I’ve heard this from Zionists.”

    While it’s true, it is not sufficiently clear, and it is open to pernicious misinterpretation. It was a mistake. Zionism is a movement with many radically different tendencies in it, and it’s important always to make it clear whether we’re talking about the parts and or about the whole. I ought to have written:

    “It plays into their hands by strengthening a central tenet of racist Zionism (NB that’s a subset of Zionism, not a description of it), which holds that all anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism. I’ve heard this from at least one Zionist.”

    which is both true and sufficiently clear. My bad.

    Later on in that post, I made a claim about collusion between ‘many Zionists’ [note – not all Zionists] and anti-semitism, which I stand by. Here’s some evidence for that claim:

    Revisionist Zionism allied with the Polish government in 1930s, who saw it ‘as a convenient ally for encouraging large-scale Jewish emigration from Poland’, (Yacov Shavit ‘Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement, 1925-1948′ (London, Cass, 1988), p. 38).
    Yitzhak Shamir justified the agreements between Revisionists and Polish state thus: “It was a political agreement. They helped us for anti-Semitic reasons. We explained to them, “If you want to get rid of the Jews, you must help the Zionist movement.”” (quoted from Nicholas Bethell’s ‘Palestine Triangle’ (London, Futura, 1980), p.126, via Lenni Brenner, ‘The Iron Wall: Zionist revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir’ (London, Zed, 1984), p. 198).
    Haim Arlosoff of the Jewish Agency negotiated the ‘Transfer Plan’ with Nazi Germany in 1933, to move ‘Jewish capital’ out of Germany, (Shavit, 338).
    Stern argued that his group should take the opportunity of conflict between British Empire and Germany to attack the British, (Shavit 101).
    The Stern gang proposed an agreement with German representatives in Jan 1941, which stated inter alia that “the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the aforementioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized in the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on the German side.” (Brenner, 194-197).

    By the way, Zionism’s nothing special as far as I’m concerned: I don’t go a bundle on anyone’s nationalism, including British or Palestinian nationalism (I’m _against_ the boycott, remember). I do single Israel out to an extent, though: I retain a special interest in all those states which can drop a nuclear weapon on me. Their business _is_ mine, and indeed that of everyone else within range.

    Chris Williams

    • zkharya Says:

      Chris, Zionism will always be open to the charge of “collusion” for the simple reason that both victim and victimizer often, if not always “collude” in the “understanding” that the victim would rather be somewhere else.

      The Polish Jews who remained mostly died, and those who survived were largely effectively driven out under the Soviet regime.

      The Transfer Agreement was, in fact, the only way German Jews could leave Germany with a substantial amount of the value of their property, most being confiscated upon their leaving Germany any other way, when they still could leave Germany.

      Re. nuclear bombs, then, presumably, Israel troubles you no more than France, the US, Russia or China (I do not know if India or Pakistan have intercontinental range).

  121. Absolute Observer Says:

    Actually, Chris, you are not alleging collaboration between “Zionists” and “antisemitism” (and considering that Zionism was a response to antisemitism, hardly surprising) you are alleging collaboration with Zionists and Nazis. A completely different matter and one in which the less reputable elements of anti-zionism make a big deal whilst misrepresenting the facts, nuances and context.

    One also wonders whether you criticised those involved in the liberation of Ireland for “collaboration” with the nazis, who saw Britain being at war as a good opportunity (see alsp 1916). As an “ultra-leftist” one would have thought that the idea of using such tactics was a legitimate aspect in any anti-colonist struggle.

    I also note that posters noted your collusion with antisemitism in the opposition you make between Zionism and “humanity”. It has come to a sorry state when opposing holocaust denial is, of itself, considered to be the test of anti-antiantisemitism.

    However, all this is an irrelevance.

    As so often an anti-zionist is confronted with antisemitism in their own Union. Their response it to change the subject to “Zionism” as if the one the fight against racism against Jews is somehow “conditional” on what other Jews are doing.

    I assume, therefore, that as an “ultra-leftist” you are, as we speak, organising your branch to pass a motion against antisemitism and condemn Congress for the attitude it displayed against the legitimate concerns of many of its members.

    But, of course, if you do reply, I assume ti will be about Israel (yawn).

  122. John Meredith Says:

    “I retain a special interest in all those states which can drop a nuclear weapon on me. Their business _is_ mine, and indeed that of everyone else within range. ”

    I take the point and we don’t know just what Israel’s nuclear capacity is, but I think it is generally considered unlikely that Israel has the capacity to nuke the UK (where I assume you are based), so you can relax your special interest, I think.

  123. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Chris, as you’ve decided to return to the fray, may I remind you that I posted the following comment (attached to the one of yours it’s extracted from) on 29.5.09:

    “I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important and (b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity.”

    Um, excuse me, Chris, but I thought that this selection of which “ethnicity” to support was _exactly_ what the boycotters and the rest of the BDS group were doing, etc. _They_ are the ones who are have decided to boycott Israel (and Jews) and only Israel and Jews and no other group in the whole wide world. If I’ve got that wrong and you mean something entirely diferent, then you need to say so.

    Sorry, but you can’t just make such general statements, leave them unspecified and then just go away.

    How about a response, or do I make assumptions about what you mean, and risk Jon’s wrath all over again?

  124. Pseudonym Says:

    Jericho 3s and/or Popeye Turbos, John.

  125. Pseudonym Says:

    For evidence of my 12.17pm assertion re missiles see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/945859.html

    “”Everybody can do the math and understand that the significance is that we can reach with a rocket engine to every point in the world,” weapons expert Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired army general and Tel Aviv University professor who is now a member of the Knesset, told Channel 2 TV.”

    Sorry, that was about Israel. I hope you’ll scroll up and notice that I’ve only brought up Israel and Zionism on this thread in order to defend myself against insinuations of anti-semitism that have come my way. I think that I’ve done this well enough to convince anyone with a nodding acquaintance with logic (let alone anyone with a nodding acquaintance with me) that they are baseless.

    Other than that, I refer you Dave Landau’s obituary for Steve Cohen here:
    http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Steve-Cohen

  126. Richard Gold Says:

    Steve Cohen was greatly concerned at the ammount of antisemitism emanating from the antizionist left. He had no time for the Red Pepper school of antizionism.

    Worth reading :

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=551

    and here

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=444

    and here

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/ressources/funny/

  127. modernityblog Says:

    Normally, I wouldn’t comment on this thread, but scanning it yet again I noticed a professional historian quoting Lenni Brenner.

    I assume that this is a mistake? because anyone studying Brenner’s work will notice the similarity between his arguments and those of the post-war Stalinists.

    Brenner is completely discredited. He has an immense chip on his shoulder and an axe to grind, he is as much a historian as David Irving is, which is to say he’s not.

    Brenner is selective in the worst possible way, biased from the outset and works to a predetermined conclusion, “it was the nasty evil Zionists that did it”

    It is a modern form of Soviet “anti-Zionism”, and should be regarded as such.

  128. Pseudonym Says:

    Whereas, actually, moblog, the relationship between Revisionist Zionism and the Polish state in the 1930s – and that between the Stern Gang and the Third Reich in the 1940s was . . . .? Take your time.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      So, even if true, that link _therefore_ invalidates _all_ strands of Zionist thought? If so (which is historical nonsense, as any historian should know), this would be equivalent to damning all strands of socialist thought because of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

      And your thoughts on that are…?

  129. zkharya Says:

    OFFS, this is just ridiculous. Can people who don’t know that Israel possesses either ICBMs or submarine launched cruise missiles STFU before speculating about what Israel’s “nuclear capacity” is or is not?

    Her “capacity” is not TF point. Her “intention” or “reason” for doing something is i.e. none to zero.

    Chris is clearly a bit of a weaponry techhead who, unsurprisingly given he puts “Engage” and “Nazis” in the same bracket of potential “wolves”, is somewhat paranoid about the possibility of Israel’s nuking the UK, perhaps more so than in the case of France, the US, Russia or China.

    Unfortunately, weaponry techheads are sometimes a bit like that.

  130. zkharya Says:

    Yeah, Mod, I noticed that too. For my part, I think Yehuda Bauer’s Jews for sale somewhat superior.

    I strongly recommend this BBC documentary about Rudolph Kasztner (expires June 15)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00kps7k/Storyville_20082009_The_Jew_who_Dealt_with_Nazis_Killing_Kasztner/

    There is evidence that, post-war the Jewish Agency sent Kasztner to testify on behalf of several Nazis in exchange for the recovery of stolen Jewish property.

    Is this bad? Perhaps. Becher, on whose behalf , Kasztner testified, was responsible for protecting 10s of 1000s of Jews in Austria, while the others were those he had negotiated before Eichman. They make sense as kinds of “gentlemen’s agreements”.

    Was negotiating wrong, full stop? No, I don’t think so. It is a very old Jewish tradition, in which the negotiators may have been misguided, given the Nazis’ implacability. But the BBC documentary makes clear that Kasztner’s rescue committee’s attempts to alert Hungarian Jewry were met with disbelief and inertia.

    But the crass (pseudo-?) Trotskiite analysis of Brenner et al. is pretty poor historiography, in my view. I’m surprised to see Chris include him in his bibliography.

    It is also part of the historiographical baggage of the SWP-UCU Trotskiite non-Jewish Jewish faction. And it should make any genuine historian uncomfortable that these dominate the alleged academic historical discourse within a union of alleged academic historians. It is a ridiculous situation, as I have said before. SWP-UCU regularly has on sale the Pluto Press Myths of Zionism, the potted version of Jewish history by John Rose, who possesses no more than an MA in Jewish history.

    This is a betrayal of academic standards, the first thing a union of academics should uphold, I think.

  131. Absolute Observer Says:

    Chris,

    Actually, as soon as you have been backed into a corner, you change the subject. Note the thread. You started with the attempt to define Jews according to your own liking. That don’t really work so,

    You then try to show that your antizionism is not infected by antizionism. But in so doing, someone linked to your
    humanity v Zionists line. Silence on that one……..so,

    You then shift it to the Zionism collaborating with Nazis, by quoting Brenner. Not the smartest of things to do, so…..

    You equate antisemitism with yellow stars and holocaust denial
    Hardly worth a comment that one
    and when,
    you were asked why you weren’t supporting a look into the allegations of antisemitism of UCU in the face of numerous complaints. Silence

    And, finally, when all else have failed, the recourse to ad hominem insults (“with a a nodding acquaintance with logic”.)

    What next, you going to spit out your soother?

    My. that’s the first time a debate with an antizionist who insists his political ideas are free of antisemitism has even followed that pattern!!

    Oh, and one final point, please don’t for a moment think we take what you think seriously. In face a few of us have a “book” going on what you will say next. So far, you’re true to form all the way done the line. Thanks.

  132. NIMN Says:

    Where would all the antizionists be without the, erm, Zionist newspaper, Haaretz (God bless it)??

  133. Pseudonym Says:

    Next topic? THFC. Did you win your bet? I hope _someone’s_ having some fun here.

    Where to start with Absolute Observer above? Perhaps at the beginning…

    “You started with the attempt to define Jews according to your own liking. ”

    No. I started with a criticism of David H’s claim that he could define ‘real Jews’ according to a particular set of political criteria which left out quite a lot of people who are, to all intents and purposes, Jewish.

    Each time the subject’s then been changed on me, I’ve responded with an answer to the criticism. That’s the problem with trying to rebut smears which are based on an attempt to link one with a number of assumed attributes: each of the assumptions needs to be taken on and challenged, or some of the mud might stick.

    David, I’ve got to say that if all your comrades are as good at debate (and indeed, logic) as AO and his friends, it’s no wonder that we appear to be losing the argument over the boycott. Perhaps the tactics could be reviewed?

    Chris Williams

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      And your reply to my comment posted at 12.17 above is…? Or are you going to continue to ignore that, as you have done so far? If so, I’m going to have to draw my own conclusions as to your reasoning and stand on those words.

      Given your continued statements as to how we misinterpret you, the chance to short-circuit that is still there. But not for much longer.

  134. modernityblog Says:

    zkharya,

    Yes, as you say it is very poor historiography, Bauer is much better.

    Brenner’s work is entirely unsatisfactory, not only for his pronounced bias, his inability to engage with the wider historiography, but also the fact you know where he is leading.

    And that seems to me to be the distinguishing characteristic between a professional and a amateur historian: the selection of sources.

    Being able to determined what is a valid, reasonable and useful source, and another which is essentially political tittle-tattle or malice dressed up with some footnotes and the pretense of scholarly intent, is the difference between the two and it shows in Brenner’s work.

    The similarities and techniques used by Brenner and Irving are astonishingly similar.

    In fact they both seem to have an avid readership amongst the Far Right. Brenner’s work can be found advertised on neo-Nazi and their associates’ web sites.

    One of Brenner’s books was seemingly published by Noontide Press, the neo-Nazi publishing house.

    Now to anyone else all of that would ring alarm bells, which is why the vast majority of professional historians probably wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole.

    The type of allegations that Brenner comes out with, are common currency on the Far Right and with reason, because their motivation is to argue that Jews during the Second World War (or some Jews, depending on how sophisticated the Far Right-wing ideologue is) were essentially the same as Nazis.

    You will find a similar tack amongst Stalinist “Anti-Zionists” years back, I believe Jeffrey Herf covered it in his study of the GDR, I forget the exact details.

    All in all, it is very shoddy reasoning.

  135. zkharya Says:

    Changing the topic, Chris? You started on Israel’s implicitly nuking GB.

    As for adducing Zionism’s alleged collusion with antisemitism, that was you too.

    I can’t answer for David: I didn’t make his assertions, I made my own. But I think my assertion of non-Jewish Jews and comparison with the RSDLP perfectly reasonable.

    You decided to post on a website largely run by and for Jews, and start provocatively opine on ethnicity. You can’t complain if people respond.

  136. zkharya Says:

    “David, I’ve got to say that if all your comrades are as good at debate (and indeed, logic) as AO and his friends, it’s no wonder that we appear to be losing the argument over the boycott. Perhaps the tactics could be reviewed?”

    That’s a funny argument from someone who has already said he is no longer arguing publicly in congress against the boycott.

  137. zkharya Says:

    “No. I started with a criticism of David H’s claim that he could define ‘real Jews’ according to a particular set of political criteria which left out quite a lot of people who are, to all intents and purposes, Jewish.”

    David has clarified what he meant. A good case can be made that UCU congress is de facto discriminating against Jews who express pro-Zionist sympathies or positions. That is a majority of British Jews as well as Jewish academics. Not to mention other ways a boycott would first and foremost adversely affect British Jews.

    It’s the non-Jewish Jewish Trot-SWP faction who adduces their “asaJewness” when, in fact, the only way they are “real Jews”, as David acknowledged, is by descent, and in very little to nothing else.

    David has acknowledged they are Jews. Just not very Jewish Jews.

    The Bolsheviks too thought Jewish ethnicity unimportant, which is why they sought to effectively abolish not only the largest single Jewish socialist party, but the largest single socialist party at the time full stop, the Bund. And they did so with the invaluable help of Marxist-Leninist non-Jewish Jews (who were often themselves abolished, purpose fulfilled).

  138. Pseudonym Says:

    “he is no longer arguing publicly in congress against the boycott.”

    ? News to me. When did I say that? I said that in my opposition to the boycott I wouldn’t propose any more model motions written by Engage, and to be honest, as you might imagine, the last few days have done nothing to change that particular position.

    Please think about this for a moment. Right now most of the UCU (80%?) is ignoring this argument about the boycott. This gives Bricup the advantage, because they have a majority of that sub-group which is prepared to get involved in this argument.

    We will only win if we draw more people into the discussion. The way that Engage is currently playing it is. not. working. You lot are losing. And that’s bad, because on the central issue of opposing the boycott (rather than on the reasons for our opposition) you are on the right side.

    Us political wonks with thick skins are rare: most people see a shouting match and do a U-turn. Perhaps calling everyone who doesn’t agree with you in every particular an anti-semite is not the best tactic here? Perhaps the way forward is not to assume that all your opponents are arguing in bad faith, to crank up the volume and the hatred, to make every discussion a flamewar, and to point to the imminent apocalypse. Because this does not appear to be getting the 80% of uncommitted members (or even the 10% more that we need to care about this) on side.

    Again, these are things that you might not care about, dear reader, but perhaps you ought to.

    Chris Williams

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “Right now most of the UCU (80%?) is ignoring this argument about the boycott.” Is this 80% of Congress or of the total membership? Because the membership have only ever once (and that was membership of the then AUT) been able to express a collective view of the whole BDS issue, in 2005, and they decisevely rejected it. You should know, you were the seconder of Jon Pike’s motion. Since then, zilch, an abnegation of the democratic process as the UCULeft would normnally understand it, and a confining of the “vote” to a coterie of insiders. Why they don’t take Brecht’s advice and elect another membership is beyond me. Or perhaps thtat’s what they’re working on, with this complete ignoring of the usual business of a trade union in favour of antisemitic claptrap.

      And when are you going to respond to my questions? They aren’t assertions, they don’t put words into your mouth. But I will start doing that if you don’t answer soon.

      • Pseudonym Says:

        List your questions in order of priority and I might answer them. I’ll certainly answer the first one. Me and my mates have a book on which one you’ll put at the top, by the way.

        Chris Williams

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          There is another unanswered comment from me further up, concerning yours on “ethnicity” which I have twice now stated and made comments on. You might care to respond to that also. If not, I shall free to start making assumptions about your views. Which I haven’t done until now.

        • Pseudonym Says:

          Reply on the way, but it’s longer than I wanted it to be and not yet finished. You’ll have to postpone assuming. But I worry that we’re talking past one another here – which is one reason why the reply’s grown.

          Chris Williams

        • Pseudonym Says:

          Brian, in the absence of any clarification, I’m assuming that your main problem with what I’ve argued is encapsulated in the following exchange [May 29 at 7:34 am]:


          “I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important and (b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity.”

          Um, excuse me, Chris, but I thought that this selection of which “ethnicity” to support was _exactly_ what the boycotters and the rest of the BDS group were doing, etc. _They_ are the ones who are have decided to boycott Israel (and Jews) and only Israel and Jews and no other group in the whole wide world. If I’ve got that wrong and you mean something entirely diferent, then you need to say so.

          Now, what you (Brian) didn’t quote from my original message [May 28 at 9:20 pm ] (This _is_ all getting a bit news.groups, isn’t it?) was this:

          “Remember that “some people who are in favour of a boycott are idiots, nay evil” is not a valid point to make in response to this critique, even if it’s true about them. ”

          Which is a shame, because I think that it sums up my response to your query exactly. I was pointing out that Engage had something badly wrong, and the response “Ah, but our opponents have got things wrong” is no reasonable defence in this case. It’s a non-sequitur.

          I’ve written a thousand-word screed explaining exactly what I _did_ mean by the sentence “I remain . . . that ethnicity.” but on re-reading the relevant comments , I’ve decided not to post it, (as ever) I don’t think I make the point better than Phil has already done on May 29 at 9:30pm, and on May 29 at 10:22am – the latter a post which also brought a welcome clarification from David H which convinced me (along with some other interventions, from Jon and zkharya, inter alia) that reasonable debate is not dead on this site.

          So, I’m afraid that my substantive response has to be: if you’ve got a problem with the fact that people who support the boycott pick winners and losers on the basis of ethnicity . . . relax, so have I. That’s one of the many reasons why I oppose the boycott. Perhaps you should take your problem up with them, rather than with me.

          Chris Williams

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          Okay, you’ve clarified. Now either you should have been clearer in the first place that your reference was to the BDS crowd – because in no way can Engage (or most of the posters here) be said to picking on ethnicities – we’re responding to the BDS set; or you are being deliberatley provocative by being deliberately obscure. Your privilege, but save it for your students to make _them_ do their thinking for themselves rather than you doing it all for them.

          If you think that engageniks are selecting “ethnicities”, then, boy, you can have no idea how we would love to be worth taking no notice of. If only that had happened through history, I’d have a hellava lot more relatives I could argue with instead of with (effectively) antisemitic boycotters of Israel.

          It’s more fun arguing with your relatives, if only, with luck, because you get to make up with them afterwards. Making up with the likes of Cushman or (any of the ) Roses or Wight…?

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          2 things: either the moderator didn’t allow a response to “what order” for the questions or it got lost in cyberspace – not the first time that’s happened to me, and the copy is at home not here. So, answer the questions in the order asked, seems most reasonable. And, 2 rhetorical questions for you: why should I give a damn what book you and your mates have on anything – to even say that doesn’t sound remotely “funny” or “humorous” from my end, but slightly sinister. Second rehtorical q.: why are you suddenly coming over all smart alec to me, when I have done nothing of the sort to you?

          As I’m about to be away for a week, a reply any time between 11 and 17 June will get my attention.

        • Pseudonym Says:

          I think that my response to your query crossed yours to mine in the moderation queue, Brian.

          As for the ‘book’ remark: when I’m commenting on someone else’s blog, I try to show the same level of politeness that is shown to me. If some people are rude to me and others dissociate themselves from that rudeness, then I discount it. If they don’t, I assume that this level of rudeness is fair game in context and tend to assume the same tone if I feel like it. I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone unnecessarily by descending some of the way to AO’s level.

          But I have to say, Brian, that the tone you’ve taken on this thread alone towards RV (‘a dullard’) and my friend Phil (‘equally racist and antisemitic’) does I’m afraid colour my feelings regarding what is an acceptable level of politeness towards you personally.

          Nevertheless, I don’t want anything I’ve written to be interpreted as a threat to you or anyone else, and if it has been, I apologise unreservedly.

          Chris Williams

  139. zkharya Says:

    “Two years ago I seconded my colleague Jon Pike when he proposed the Engage motion against the boycott proposals in the OU branch of the UCU. Today I wouldn’t do that.”

    ‘sorry, Chris. Where exactly were the Engage clauses questioning the Jewishness of Jewish pro-boycotters?

    I didn’t call you an antisemite, Christ. Actually, I do not think I have called anyone an antisemite here, on this thread.

    OK, Chris. You win. My chronic carpal tunnel is kicking it. You’re John Pike’s friend. Perhaps you are someone to be groomed, have your ego and opinions stroked. I do not know. ‘truth to tell, I doubt David would let me post my true opinions.

    I have said what I think, and what I think I think to be true. Frankly, I think the rot at UCU congress is incurable. This has happened before. And when it does, history does not demonstrate that the infected are generally amenable to reason.

    Perhaps you’re a better public speaker than I, or anyone else here. Perhaps you’d be more persuasive.

    But, in any case, I make it a rule of thumb that trying to persuade anyone of what you do not believe yourself is a dead loss. But perhaps I am merely insufficiently skillful.

  140. zkharya Says:

    I iterate, Chris: I know you’re Jon Pike’s friend. And Jon may well be extremely upset by what has been said. I do not know what to say. Apart from what I think on unrelated matters.

    In any case, in the final analysis, I speak for no one but myself.

  141. modernityblog Says:

    zkharya,

    There’s no need to be apologetic, if an academic makes a poor choice of words then they should be picked up on it and Dr Williams isn’t by his own admission thin skinned.

    What I think isn’t asked here is a fairly obvious question:

    why would activists and trade unionists oppose to the discriminatory boycott of Israel be annoyed by the shenanigans going on in UCU?

    Surely the answer is clear? simple enough to understand and in part explains why people commenting at Engage express frustration.

    I can only imagine if there was a campaign to boycott Ireland or Scotland, etc that such a discussion would be considerably less temperate.

    The proposed boycott against Israelis in UCU has seriously weakened the union. It has meant that Jewish members (and others) feel uncomfortable remaining members of UCU, yet none of those issues (and many more) are addressed by the organisation, leading to the point where it is fair to conclude UCU could be classified as institutionally racist.

    All of that certainly would make tempers become frayed in any debate.

    Ultimately, it is for those people in UCU, who consider themselves to be antiracist, to take up the issue, Engage has done sterling work but cannot, on its own, transformed UCU, whilst anti-Israeli types hold so much sway within official union positions.

  142. Absolute Observer Says:

    “4) Pro-Zionists and pro-US apologists absolutely *love* it when people on
    our side confuse anti-Zionism and pro-Arab politics [ie respect for
    humanity] with anti-Semitism. It plays into their hands by strengthening a
    central tenet of racist Zionism, which holds that all anti-Zionism is the
    same as anti-Semitism. I’ve heard this from Zionists. Of course, it isn’t
    true: indeed, in order to retract the diaspora into the state of Israel,
    many Zionists connived with anti-Semitism.”

    Leaving aside the as expected ad hominem arttacks that comes from Chris, he states that,

    “Right now most of the UCU (80%?) is ignoring this argument about the boycott.”

    And almost 100% including Chris is ignoring the question of antisemitism in the Union.

    Chris is one of them. He thinks that antisemiticm exhausts itself with Holocaust denial.
    Chris thinks that Holocaust denial is a bad thing; and why, because it “helps” the Zionists. It helps them, moreover, because it allows the “Zionists” to equate it with an
    atisemitism.

    So, in a twisted “ultra-left” way, Chris thinks that Holocaust denial is a “good thing” for some “Jews” (i.e. those who aren’t “Zionists”). And, for good measure he cites discredited works on “Zionist collusion” with Nazism.

    Chirs speaks of “we”. Who exactly does he mean by “we”?
    Engage is a loose collection of people who identify and try to counter antisemitism on the left.

    Chris has been asked about the motion on antisemitism in the UCU. He has remained silent on that (resorting, as per norm) to inults.

    Chris’ comments has been shown to express inflections of
    antisemitic discourse. He remains silent.

    If Chris wants to oppose the boycott, well good for him. If Chris is serious about fighting antisemitism, then he sure has a long way to go. Maybe he should start with his own certainties.

  143. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Pro-Zionists and pro-US apologists absolutely *love* it when people on
    our side confuse anti-Zionism and pro-Arab politics [ie respect for
    humanity] with anti-Semitism.”

    “confuse” – mentioned that before – no answer from Chris.
    Pro-Zionists v respect for humanity – mentioned that before – no answer from Chris.

    “We”?? yeah right!!

  144. Engage reader; first time caller Says:

    For pseusdonym to speak about “we” perhaps he should reconsider the idea that antisemitism is used as a Zionist ploy and,, instead, do something about the antisemitism that he alleges allows the Zionists to pull such “stunts”, rather than blaming those who suffer the thing complained of originally.

    • Pseudonym Says:

      When did I entertain the idea that antisemitism was used as any kind of ploy? When have I used the word ‘stunts’? When have I blamed the victim?

      Chris

  145. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Perhaps calling everyone who doesn’t agree with you in every particular an anti-semite is not the best tactic here?”

    Where have you been called an “antisemite”?
    Some of your views express ideas prevalent in antisemitic discourse, but that does not mean you are an antisemite?

    “Perhaps the way forward is not to assume that all your opponents are arguing in bad faith, to crank up the volume and the hatred, to make every discussion a flamewar, and to point to the imminent apocalypse.”

    This is most interesting. People have pointed out to you
    that many of the views you express are “problematic” from the perspective of challenging antisemitism. You take those points badly, as “cranking up the volume” as “hatred” and a “flamewar”. You end by insults and telllling us what “we” are doing wrong.

    Howover, it is now clear what the dividing line is.
    You think antisemitism and the boycott are distinct issues.
    Many on Engage do not (objectively)

    That is the fundamental fault line.

    We have tried to tell you not only that you are wrong, but that your own views indicate precisely the bleeding of antisemitism into antizionism.

    You get defensive and claim you have been “smeared” and called an “antisemite”. You then accuse those who questioned you of, to all intents and purposes, acting hysterically. You then tell “us” what needs to be done!

    well, many disgree with you. But, I guess, as an “ultra-leftist” it must be galling that we don’t buy the same truth as you. But, thanks for trying. “We” are ever so grateful for all you have done for “us”. I am sure someone is planting a tree for you right now as we speak. Who knows, it might even be in Israel.

  146. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Again, these are things that you might not care about, dear reader, but perhaps you ought to.”

    Oh, one final point, you can go kiss my patronised ass!

  147. Curious Says:

    Chris,
    On what grounds do you oppose the boycott?
    Thank you.

  148. modernity Says:

    I fear we are being too harsh on Dr. Williams.

    I am sure that should he endeavour to do a serious study of Soviet “anti-Zionism” and its influence on the political discourse in Europe post WW2, then he might realize the problem with his own contribution to this debate :)

    • Pseudonym Says:

      Modblog, I’m not sure if this is the first time that I’ve suggested to you that you _really_ need to read Thouless’s _Straight and Crooked Thinking_. It’s not the first time that I ought to have done so, though.

      The one you need to check out is ‘amalgam technique’. I think it’s number 30something on the list, but don’t quote me on that.

      Chris Williams

  149. 701 Says:

    Absolute Observer,
    You might like to know who in the UCU made the innocent mistake of being “confused” between anti-zionism and antisemitism.

    Sue Blackwell linked to a neo-nazi site (until a “Jewish” friend pointed it out to her)
    One UCU thought an article on a neo-nazi web site (including the idea that Zionists were responsible for 9/11 and that Zionists controlled the world media) had something serious to say about Israel and Palestine. She was not only defended by many but a few even thought the article “valid” even if the site was not.
    Steven Rose argued in the SW paper that the overturning of the boycott was the consequence of a “secret cabal” acting under the auspices of “Israeli embassies”.
    David Hirsh offers examples by Michael Cushman.
    Sean Wallis talks/jokes about the “missing billions” from Lehman.
    And, as Absolute Observer notes, your own comments on the question of “collaboration”, of Zionism as the antithesis of humanity and of Holocaust denial as a benefit to Jews is, to say the least, problematic.

    (I leave the issues raised by AO concerning kosher meat (an interesting analogy I thought) hanging.

    (Within other strands of the Palestinian solidarity, we have Jenny Tonge, John Wight, Tony Benn, various self-styled spokesperson who tak of Zionist control of the media, of the Israel Lobby and so on and so forth).

    Yet, however, you indicate that it is Engage who is spoiling the anti-boycott campaign for raising this issues.

    Would you prefer it if Engage politely did not mention such things? Would that allow the “real” issue to come forward?

    Note also that very rarely (if ever) has Engage labelled a person an “anti-semite”. More often than not, they have brought to the surface an unwitting antisemitism that is then used as a resource for anti-zionism in general and the boycott in general.

    Unfortunately, I think the tradition from which you idenitify has never quite understood the nature of antisemitism, and that is why you are reluctant to acknowledge it where and whenever it appears (this is especially the case in what I can only guess is the irony of your fallling back into a Stalinst framework in your citing of Brenner (I gather you ar not a “tankie” as they were so fondly referred to).

    Anyway, dear reader, these are matters that you do not reflect upon, maybe you ought to.

  150. Pseudonym Says:

    Thanks for your polite request, Curious. Here are my reasons, each of which is in my opinion sufficient:

    1) Given their total military dominance, the people who need to make peace are a fraction of the Israel Jewish population (I single them out because they are the Israelis with full political rights). They are less likely to make peace if they think that the world hates them: more, if they think that the rest of the world has not dropped them all into a box marked ‘oppressor state’. Making some Palestinians feel that someone else cares isn’t worth making some more Israelis feel that everyone hates them. It’s those pesky h-bombs again.

    2) Boycotts aimed at states perpetuate the idea that the borders between states and between ethnicities are more important than the fault-lines within societies. This is not completely true, and the less true we can make it, the better the world will be.

    3) Every time the British left gets kicked in the teeth at home, it gets a sudden case of transferred nationalism, proclaiming that if only the Ruritanians had their own state, everything would be alright, and _no way_ would those lovely romantic Ruritanians be nasty to their trade unionists or local national minorities. This has yet to work, and perhaps the British left might do better to concentrate on the enemies at home.

    4) Attempting to impose the boycott will require an unprecedented culture of vetting and denunciation to pervade British academia.

    Chris Williams

    • zkharya Says:

      That seems pretty reasonable to me, Chris.

      I’ll have to think about a more detailed reply.

    • Bill Says:

      Sounds like many of my more loftier issues with the bocycotters… now can you take that to the bocyotters and explain it to them? People have done this left and right and it’s gotten them nowhere. (But of yours you know that already.) But one of the reasons in your post is my grittier (heck grittiest) reason for militantly opposing the boycott…

      4) Attempting to impose the boycott will require an unprecedented culture of vetting and denunciation to pervade British academia.

      This is a frontal attack on Academic Freedom.

      Donchathink, that that’s one of the cherries on top for the bocyott movement? More still, do you project that this is going to stop with the taking an official union (and “official” shadow university) side in the Israeli/Palestine conflict (especially with the adrenaline rush represented by Cushman’s breathless comments)? Methinks that’s not likely. More to the point, I’d wager that they’d welcome this camels nose under the tent to further politicize the academy to their specs.

      There are people who argue, as you did, that they have no interested in ethnic politics (yet the bocyotters are obsessed with it, and very likely yours should you be contrarian or even just coy in your stances), and similarly others argue that they have no dog in the I/P conflict so why get into it (but the boycotters want to make their many boycotts of one which i grudgingly accept so long as they accept the RRA and its consequences, a boycott for all, dog or no dog). The fence sitters’ and wallflowers’ counterpoint then becomes that it’s naive to think they’re not going to meddle in other faculty and investigator affairs on whatever bête noire that tickles them next.. Perhaps the next one up is your sacred cow (or even your professional livelihood/sandbox/etc).

  151. Absolute Observer Says:

    Chris,

    I agree with you points 1 thought to 4 without hesitation.
    Yet, why your reticence on the question of antisemitism?
    I have put your own words to you three or four times. You refuse to answer. Fine. That is your pergoative. Others have noted the connection between anti-zionism and antisemitism. Fine, you remain silent. I won’t embarass you again.

    So, since you want everything to be on your terms, (i.e. your refusal to discuss what has been put to you)and since you are quick to smear people who disagree with you as calling you and others antisemitic (where, again, did anyone say that?) and claim they have a failure of logic, let’s grant you your wish.

    Your answer is in keeping with the entire tradition of the abstraction of left thought when it comes to the Jews. You read the boycott movement as if it is purely coincidental that it is revolving around Israel.

    Many Jews, and some anti-Zionist Jews, are sceptical about this “coincidence”. But, nowhere do you acknowledge even the possibility that, maybe, just maybe, it chimes with a problematic history the left has had with Jews.

    Let’s take point 2. you talk, for example about displaced radicalism. Fine, I’ll buy that, but then the question why Israel, why the Jewish state and not, say, to use a cliche, the bicycle riders state? After all, for a long time (if not til today) sections of the left saw antisemitism as “displaced” antagonism against capitalism. And, in this way, antisemitism was deemed not only not to be “the” problem, but also not a “problem” to be dealt with head on.

    Here, you are arguing in the same abstrsacted terms. The boycott of Israel and only Israel is a displaced radicalism for the defeats suffered over the last two decades or so. But, for that to provide a full answer, surely the question of “why Israel” cannot be avoided?

    And, if we take the argument further. Surely it is beyond coincidence that at the moment of the demise of the cold war, politics (left, national and international) comes to revolve (again) around the “Jewish Question”, in this instance, the legitimacty (or otherwise) of the (only) Jewish state and its actions (actions that, whilst to be coondemned, hardly single Israel out).

    In other words, the boycott movement is as much the left’s focus on Jews as Jews as it is a displacement for its own defeats.

    Several responses have been made, although I am not sure any of them are “sufficient”.

    1. a romantic image of Jews as revolutionaries as “authentic” Jewry.
    2. That as the victims of oppression they have become oppressors themselves.
    3. Jews are moral people and the actions of Israel go against Judaism.
    4. Zionism is an inauthetic expression of Judaism (especially when read in the llight of the other comments)/
    5 Israel desreves it because it is the worst state in the world, an unalloyed evil.

    All of these are justifications that one hears from Jews and non-Jews. As I said, none of them are worth a candle.

    I am afraid, and with all due respect, you are missing a ingredient (some would say, key ingredient) that goes someway to explain the oft-asked observation, why the Jews? Sometimes, irrational though it is, people simply don’t like Jews; that their obsession with Jews is not “really” about capitalism, it is not “really” about “imperialism” (not your line, granted), is not “really” about colonialism. It may be all those things; it may be also, that people simply don’t like Jews.

  152. Engage reader: Second time caller Says:

    “When did I entertain the idea that antisemitism was used as any kind of ploy? When have I used the word ’stunts’? When have I blamed the victim? ”

    Erm. let’s try the following.

    “It plays into their hands by strengthening a
    central tenet of racist Zionism, which holds that all anti-Zionism is the
    same as anti-Semitism. I’ve heard this from Zionists. Of course, it isn’t
    true: indeed, in order to retract the diaspora into the state of Israel,
    many Zionists connived with anti-Semitism.”

    Unless I am mistaken, what you appear to be arguing here is that Zionism (whatever that means) exploits antisemitism for its own nefarious interests (i.e. it uses it as a “ploy” to (as implied) equate antisemitism with anti-zionsim). And, as for “stunts” how about the idea that Zionists connive with antisemitism.

    What is of course noticeable here is the idea that Zionists themselves or Zionism itself cannot itself be a target of antisemitism. That antisemitism targetted against Jews is distinct from, but then used by, Zionists.

    As anyone with a passing knoweldge will know, the original setting for the Protocols was the early Zionist conference in Basel and manifests itself in the contemporary notion that Zionists run the world’s press, determine US foreign policy (annd this is stuff regularly pushed now by the left.) Or, are people who makes these claims merely “confused”?

    Whilst you may truly believe in your mind that you have separated Zionism from Jews, you remains terribly defensive of those who does not share your own theorietical severity. Indeed, you see the connection of the two, as someone else noted, as a nothing more than a “confusion”.

    Why this blindspot on antisemitism, Chris? Is your thinking on Israel and Palestine so fragile, that you cannot incorporate it into your views on these matters.

    You know, you don’t have to be a Zionist to oppose antisemitism even when it is connected to Zionism, so why the refusal to recognise it, not only as bad for the Palestinians, but bad for Jews (including Zionists) in itself?

    Or, as your words above imply, do you think that people here are raising antisemitism so as to “equate it with anti-Zionism”? After all, that’s what Jews who raise antisemitism seem to do, is it not? Or, is it that those who raise the question of antisemitism are just plain “wrong”? Or is it, that those who raise antisemitism should be willing to enter into debate and discussion with those who they believe are not antisemites, but who unwittingly tap into antisemitic imagery and discourse? (Judging by the discussion here, and your own responses, (allegations of smearing) that doesn’t appear to be the way forward. And, if “rational debate” doesn’t work with an anti-boycotter with a thought out political analysis, it is hardly going to work on the Hickey’s and the Cushman’s of this world – that, I guess leads us back to the allegations of duplictious or wrong!)

    • Pseudonym Says:

      FTC, there are so many questions in your post that I’d lose my job if I took the time to answer them all. Read what I’ve written and note when I’m talking about (1) Zionism as an idea, (2) Zionism as an actually existing movement, and (3) some members of that movement, which, to put it mildly, has never been a coherent entity.

      Note also that I’ve rowed back slightly from the paragraph you quoted. As I said, I’d have hedged it better, but perhaps you can imagine that in 2002, on a mailing list containing a number of people who were genuinely vulnerable to being taken in by antisemitic claims, my first aim was to list a number of reasons why those claims should be rejected utterly. As it happens, I still agree with the reasons, but note that asserting one or more of them is not the same as therefore asserting that these are _only_ reasons to oppose antisemitism, and other reasons are illegitimate. Clearly that’s not true, and I reserve the right to think up or pass on any number of additional reasons to oppose antisemitism.

      But I’m afraid that if you’re waiting for me to join in a general argument about me, rather than about points of fact (e.g. Poland in the 1930s), principle (e.g. the one that began my involvement in this thread) or tactics (e.g. my appeal to Engage to re-think its political style in the face of its apparent failure), you’re going to have a long wait. One thing I’ve learned in a couple of decades hanging round the left is that, among a hostile or semi-hostile crowd, for better or worse, the ideological purity of the target will never be established; it will only be endlessly argued about. It can only be securely demonstrated through actions, not words.*

      I think that the reason for this impossibility is probably intimately linked to the nature of nationalist claims themselves. Nationalism – rather than admitting itself a contingent political position, which can be debated on its merits in practice – tends to assert itself through the concept of ‘identity’. In doing so, it makes the claim that it is a non-negotiable property which it is illegitimate to even criticise. This is not even true, let alone useful.

      Those hoping I might backtrack on my absolute opposition to nationalism of all kinds have also got a long wait. All sorts of universal rights should be asserted and supported, but the problem with the universal claim to nationalism is that it swiftly tends to end in assertions of supremacy. No-one ought to have a free pass on this.** This is a deeply unpopular position in all sorts of places, but such is life.

      Meanwhile, the campaign to oppose the boycott isn’t working.

      Chris Williams

      * I’ve left a handy paragraph break here for AO to insert demands for hoop-jumping and will-you-condemn-athons in a response to this post – demands that will be ignored, or if I’m feeling provocative, answered only with the question: “What did you do for Italy’s Roma today?”

      ** Giant Egg On Face Challenge: If you’ve nothing better to do, spend long enough on Google and you might find me, in a moment of weakness and madness, expressing admiration for the French state in terms which contradict the cosmopolitan manifesto above. I have this weakness for universal secular republics which sometimes gets the better of me when I’m drunk. Find any such flubs and I’ll apologise for them. Sod it – to the first one person who finds one and states: “You are a fool whose publically stated positions are not 100% coherent.” and I’ll stand a fiver to the charity of _their_ choice. The more humiliating the better – that’ll teach me. Everyone’s welcome to enter that competition – even those who couldn’t pass such a test themselves.

      • m Says:

        Chris,

        I think that Absolute Observer does pose a very valid question and I would be interested in your answer to this question. Why pick Israel? Why the focus on this state?

        I have not read through this whole longish thread, so if I have missed you addressing this point, I apologise. And if you dont care to answer, thats fine of course. I am just sincerely interested in your take on this.

        • Pseudonym Says:

          “Hydrogen bombs and a delivery system.” It’s about six feet up on the printout, perhaps 6cm on your scroll bar.

        • Pseudonym Says:

          PS I can’t be bothered to read AO’s posts any longer (overt and non-funny rudeness has that effect on me) so I’m not sure if s/he’s actually begging the question. Where’s the evidence that I am actually singling Israel out, rather than merely pre-emptively reserving the right to do so? I’ve just devoted rather a long time to on behalf of a position _against_ the boycott.

        • Operator Says:

          That’s a misunderstanding; the question was not why *you* single out Israel, but rather why large portions of the traditional left (and not exclusively the left, of course) do. What is your explanation for this fact? That Israel has hydrogen bombs?

        • Pseudonym Says:

          I don’t know. Nor do I know why people from Newcastle feel the way they do about Harry Redknapp. Perhaps the best way to answer these questions is to ask _them_ that? I’m just this guy.

          Chris Williams

        • m Says:

          wow, that was weak…

      • Alex Says:

        Chris,

        I personally don’t see any point hunting for a cheap ad-hominem attack, but if I copy-and-paste your sentence, “You are a fool whose publically stated positions are not 100% coherent.” into this paragraph, will you donate the fiver to charity-of-choice, sparing everyone the hassle and embarrassment?

        Given the UCU Congress seems to be neglecting the plight of British College and Union workers at the moment, I would suggest CUSN as an appropriate destination: http://www.cusn.info/

        How does that sound?

        • Pseudonym Says:

          Sounds like they deserve a fiver. Although I’d be copping out if I said that once I’d paid the fiver, there was no longer any prize for digging up dirt. So I’ve sent them a fiver (well, the cheque’s in the envelope on the shelf in the hall – haven’t they heard of Paypal?) but the contest is still open.

          Chris Williams

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Chris Williams: “Meanwhile, the campaign to oppose the boycott isn’t working. ”

        Really? How about the acceptance this year that any Resolution passed at Congress will be null and void (or whatever the legal phrase is), due to the legal advice the _National Executive_ paid for (with members money) and at first refused to let the rest of Nat Exec see?

        How about the withdrawal of last year’s Resolution after the htreat of legal action from certain concerned members?

        If this is failure, what does success for the BDS group look like? Congress can pass a 1000 Resolutions that are not going to be acted on because of the fear of legal action against the union.

        Whose victory and whose loss? How about asking university and college managements how they regard UCU now, in 2009, compared with, say, 2000? Is UCU membership increasing? Is it declining? Is it still as representative of the general body of teachers and lecturers in its constituency now as a decade ago?

        For any trade unionist who takes trade unionism seriously, these are vital questions.

        Be interesting to see whether Chris thinks them worth either asking or answering.

        • Pseudonym Says:

          In my book, success is measured in winning arguments and winning resolutions, rather than relying on legal manoevres, scorched-earth tactics, and walk-out threats. These are tactics of last reort. It’s the SWP for goodness sake – they only have about 3,000 members in total in the UK. No more than a third of them can _possibly_ be in the UCU. Anyone who can’t outvote that lot in a union with 120k members is losing.

          Chris Williams

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          Evading the point again, Chris. Frankly, faced with an entrenched, lunatic, entryist group seeking to destroy my union, I’ll take any legal methods available. If these BDS numbskulls keep passing unlawful Resolutions despite what they are told, then the law has to be used to stop them. If that’s losing, then let’s shut the courts, sack the lawyers and all roll over on our backs and ask Cushman to tickle our tummies.

          You have a funny idea of what this is about, Chris. I suggest you go back and study the history of 1920s and especially 1930s unionism in the US to see what entryism can do to unions. I say the anti-boycotters are not losing, if only by stopping UCU actually trying to institute a boycott. What else do you suggest anyone does, given the flat refusal of the UCULeft to hold a union-wide referendum to resolve this matter once and for all.

          Answers rather than further assertions, please, Chris. Don’t just keep repeating earlier points.

  153. zkharya Says:

    As an addendum, on the “ethnicity” issue, almost all members of academic Jewish departments object to a boycott. They would be among those hit hardest by such a thing.

    Of these the Trotskiite-SWP UCU faction are almost wholly unrepresentative.

    It is this faction that is dominating the discourse as to what Jewish and Israeli history is, not in an academic capacity, but in UCU congress, which, as I said, is a ridiculous state of affairs, and indicative of the undemocratic (at least with regard to acedemics in Jewish studies departments, whose voice is not heard, as it may have been more accurate of David to say), unrepresentative and unacademic (at least with regard to academics in Jewish studies departments) way in which this group functions within UCU congress.

    David’s saying, and my defending, “Jew-free” congress was wrong, and inaccurate.

    But it has an element of truth, that is that, in a matter which concerns the telling and “meaning” of Jewish and Israeli Jewish history, it is only a fringe Jewish voice which is heard, unrepresentative and frequently non-academic, at least in this regard, and fringe as to “ethnicity”.

    Chris said this was unimportant in comparison with ideas. But, all is Ideas. And unless one privileges the idea of Jewish ethnicity or identity in dissolution (which sums up the Trot faction nicely), and that academic Jewish studies departments should engage in an analysis of Jewish history that is essentially Marxist, then one could say a whole branch of academia and academics are being excluded from UCU political discourse by a tiny, dissolutist minority.

    I iterate: that is why this situation resembles not so much the Nazis in the 1930s, but the second RSDLP congress in 1903, and the Bund’s subsequent fate, admittedly over the following decades.

    In this case, the analogue of the vast Jewish population of Eastern Europe and Russia is the Jewish state of Israel itself, while those in academe, arguing for a measure of its legitimacy, analogous to the Bund, who, as the one if not the largest single socialist group, at least at the start of the socialist movement in Russia, argued for Jewish national autonomy, cultural and territorial.

    As today in UCU congress, it was a tiny minority of fringe, unrepresentative, non-Jewish (i.e non participatory in any form of communal Jewish life, cultural or religious, what Chris calls “ethnicity”) Jews, allied with a non-Jewish majority, who set the agenda of Jewry’s fate to ultimately dissolve, privileging a Jewish identity, or ethnicity, in dissolution.

    It is true the Bolsheviks called for an end to all ethno-national groups, in time, but Jews were to be denied what was allowed to Poles, Russians, Hungarians et al., even as the UCU-Trot faction would allow to Palestinian Christians and Muslims what they would deny to Jews.

    Anyway, that is what I think.

    There is some measure of anti-Jewish discrimination in all this.

  154. zkharya Says:

    dissolutist (!) minority :

    sounds not quite as I intended (or a Freudian slip, perhaps).

  155. zkharya Says:

    If I might add, again: one would not not call Christianity anti-Judaic and, that degree, anti-Jewish, merely because among those who would have evangelised Jews were Jewish converts.

    It might not mean Christianity was, strictly, antisemitic. But, in a position of power over Jews, or would be power over Jews, it would still be allowed as discriminatory against them.

  156. zkharya Says:

    Israel is the second or largest Jewish (depending on one’s definition) community in the world, significant for British and other Jews, for all kinds of reasons.

    One would not, for instance, at a UCU congress, try to separate Muslim academics from the Hijaz, Makkah and Madinah, or delegitimize their connection or association with them, directly or indirectly.

    The Anglo-Jewish association with Israel is no weaker, and is buttressed by literally familial relations.

    Anglo-Jews, including academics, might save themselves a lot of grief by dissociating themselves from Israel. But this would be a very hard to impossible thing to do. Regardless of whether ethnicity is important, it is a fact.

    Most British Jews are British for the same reasons Israeli Jews are Israeli: discrimination, persecution or worse whence they came. There is a shared history, of common experience and aspirations.

    That is an important influence on the shape of Anglo-Jewish historiography of Israel, for instance.

  157. Absolute Observer Says:

    Yeah, whartver Chris.

    At least in not responding to me, you don’t have to misrepresent my points and questions.

    So, whoopee you are against the boycott! That does not serve as a pass for your other dubious points (see above – the points you never did answer even before you taking (faux)-offence.

    As to what I actually commented more recently, what I actually asked was that in your principled opposition you make no mention of the fact that it is Israel that becomes the object and target for the displaced radicalism for the defeated left of the UK.

    That is, why it is you think that they singled out the Jewish state for such displacement?

    The criticism I made of your points (point 2 particularly) was that your opposition to the boycott was formulated in too general, too abstract, terms – i.e. you evade/not address the question of why it is that it is the Jewish state (and only the Jewish state) that becomes the projection for the defeats of the left. I implied – nothing more – that that is not a coincidence.

    “on a mailing list containing a number of people who were genuinely vulnerable to being taken in by antisemitic claims, my first aim was to list a number of reasons why those claims should be rejected utterly”

    Gosh, where would people be without your omnipotent presence and knowledge – protecting the vulnerable who may actually reflect on the allegations and, having thought them through agreed on disagreed.

    It must be so, so tiring being in the vanguard all the time, protecting people from their own thoughts.

    As to setting a tone, Chris, let’s revist your opening comment shall we,

    “Ah, sod this pussy-footing around. I’m not afraid of nazis, so why should I be afraid of you lot? My name is Chris Williams, and I am a lecturer in the History department at the Open University. Two years ago I seconded my colleague Jon Pike when he proposed the Engage motion against the boycott proposals in the OU branch of the UCU. Today I wouldn’t do that.

    I remain deeply disturbed by the intellectual shallowness of those who seek to argue that (a) ethnicity is important and (b) they get to decide which set of political positions are an essential attribute of that ethnicity. I also remain convinced that this is a pernicious position to hold. This problem might not worry you, but it ought to.

    Remember that “some people who are in favour of a boycott are idiots, nay evil” is not a valid point to make in response to this critique, even if it’s true about them. I recommend Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ to you all, just as I recommend it to them. Good night, and good bye.”

    “You lot” (note comparison to neo-nazis and fear).
    “intellectual shallowness”
    “This problem might not worry you, but it ought to.”
    “I recommend Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ to you all, just as I recommend it to them. Good night, and good bye.”

    Your tone was patronising and frankly rude (but, at that time we dodn’t know just how smart and clever and protective of the vulnerable you were).

    You “dear reader” then get pissed off because of the image you offer as an arrogant bastard talking to a bunch of wayward children who, rather than thanking you for your (hardly original) insights, take you to task on what you have got wrong.

    So, maybe the way forward is for you to offer an apology for your insenstivity and then, maybe, just maybe, we can have a sensible, civilized debate. Of course, I cannot speak for “us lot”, but I can sure as hell speak for me.

    I assume this will be ignored and, in the words of Robin Day, “thank you”.

  158. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “But I have to say, Brian, that the tone you’ve taken on this thread alone towards RV (’a dullard’) and my friend Phil (’equally racist and antisemitic’) does I’m afraid colour my feelings regarding what is an acceptable level of politeness towards you personally.”

    I’m so sorry that you take offence at what I said to your friends, but why haven’t they taken the trouble to defend themselves? Rosso Verde makes a number of assertions, which he has done on other threads, and then appears to depart the scene when he’s called on it. Phil makes a comment on all fours with Tom Hickey’s clearly racist and antisemitic remark in the on-line version of the BMJ of 21.7.07, and when called on it, fails to respond, either to refute my analysis (I might have got it wrong) or to, alternatively, defend his comment.

    That this offends you and causes you to thus attack me says more about you, when they can’t be bothered to say anything, than it does about me. It is a weak reason for your attitude towards me and my comments to you on _your_ writings on this thread. I don’t think I’ve ever taken an attitude in writing towards a poster on threads based on what they have said about others. But if that is what animates you…

    Your apology is, nevertheless, most welcome and, of course, accepted.

  159. Phil Says:

    Brian, 31/5: “I posted the following comment a couple of days ago. While he has replied to others since, he hasn’t to this.”

    Just for the record, I hadn’t “replied to others since”; I’d said that I was leaving the thread in a comment which appeared *before* the comment Brian refers to, and did so.

  160. Josephine Bacon Says:

    Funny isn’t it, in today’s crazy world, if you say that you are not anti-semitic, then you are not, and nothing will convince you otherwise. Of course, the “anti-Zionists” are not “antisemites”. A bit like the commercial for a car where the would-be buyer asks “Do you have any colour but black?” and the salesman replies “Yes, we have noir”.

  161. Because of the boycott campaign, UCU turns a blind eye to antisemitism « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] out and have been silenced.  The situation is serious that at the last UCU Congress there were no Jews left who were prepared to oppose the boycott campaign. Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment [...]

  162. Jewish Chronicle Report of UCU meeting on antisemitism « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] Leon Symons is wrong to say that Mary Davis was the only Jew present at the 2009 UCU Congress.  The point I have made is that there were no Jews present at that Congress who were prepared to speak against the boycott.  Mary Davis is against the boycott and did make a procedural move against the boycott but did not speak against it in the debate.  Of course there are lots of Jews at UCU Congress who are prepared to speak for the boycott.   My piece on that Congress is here:  http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/michael-cushman-and-the-jew-free-ucu-congress/ [...]

  163. “As a Jew” logic is not appropriate in public debate – David Hirsh « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] the University and College Union in the UK.  The situation in UCU is now so serious that there are no Jews left at its biggest decision making body who are willing or able to argue against the boycot… because they have been pushed out, bullied or banned.  In South Africa, Cosatu, the trade union [...]

  164. Open letter of resignation from UCU to Sally Hunt by Denis Noble « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] This link reports that there are no longer any Jews left in UCU who are willing or able to oppose th… [...]

  165. Naomi Says:

    I’m not sure there is any point in wasting our energies trying to convince hardened anti-Zionists (to me, that is a term of abuse) that Israel has every right to defend itself from daily terrorist attacks by fanatics sworn to its existential destruction. Let’s focus on reaching out to the younger generation who haven’t yet been told what to think, before their teachers in the SWP and the Guardian/BBC get a chance to indoctrinate them, and the cycle of hatred against the Jews – the world’s favourite punching bag – repeats itself. Afterall, this has been going on since the Middle Ages in Britain, isn’t it about time that the “fair-minded” British public stood up to defend them? Or is it only Israel that has to maintain the highest standards of democracy, media objectivity, freedom and non-discrimination at all times, even whilst fighting for its life on home soil? Britain and many other democratic countries are guilty of the exact same “crimes” they hypocritically accuse Israel of, yet no-one is demanding that Britain should surrender its national borders or accept a flood of hostile “refugees” (a moot point) who openly want to murder innocent British civilians.

    I know who my enemies are, and I’m not interested in debating with them directly because it achieves nothing. Let’s work towards lobbying for improvements in the way that schools teach the history of Israel, fighting the global PR war through paid advertisements, websites and social media to combat inaccurate media reports, and reducing terrorism through unwavering military/economic/cultural/academic support for Israel.

  166. More Antisemitism from Britain | Anne's Opinions Says:

    [...] is an anti-Israel pro-Palestinian activists who never wastes an opportunity to vilify Israel.  Mike Cushman is another “as-a-Jew” – an anti-Israel Jew who uses his Jewishness as a cover for [...]

  167. The tipping point for UCU -David Hirsh « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] because they all know that it would violate antiracist law in the UK.  The rhetoric ratchets up, the Jews are bullied out and the union does nothing at all to help Israelis or [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers

%d bloggers like this: