The Z word: “Must-read blog from Engage, the British organization which successfully fought the academic boycott, with a special focus on antisemitism and the left.”
Ha’aretz: “Hirsh and Pike did not want to run a Jewish or Israeli campaign, but one over the image of the British left. “Even people who oppose Israel’s policies thought that the idea of the boycott was idiotic,” says Pike in reply to a question about his participation in the campaign as a non-Jew.
The New Statesman: “An impeccably left-wing group… who are against the war in Iraq and occupation of the West Bank, gathered recently at http://www.engageonline.org.uk as they could see parts of the left retreating into special pleading.”
New York Times: ‘”This is not a victory for Ariel Sharon,” said David Hirsh, a sociology professor at Goldsmith’s College in London and a union member who helped organize the antiboycott campaign. “This is not a victory for the wall or for targeted assassinations. It is a victory for the other Israel, the one on campuses, where debate and discussion takes place, and not bloodshed.”‘
Jeff Weintraub: “In the spring of 2005 David Hirsh and Jon Pike were prime co-founders of the Engage website, which played a major role in coordinating opposition to the blacklist of Israeli academics by the Association of University Teachers in Britain. Since the repeal of the AUT blacklist, Engage has been continued as a focus for opposing anti-Zionism and anti-semitism, particularly on the left, from a position broadly supportive of the Israeli peace camp and of a negotiated two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Jewish Chroncile: “The inappropriateness of this treatment was highlighted by David Hirsh , who teaches sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. In a blog on engageonline.org.uk, Hirsh suggests that Guardian edition in question may have been the “worst ever”…”
Solomonia: “There really is lots of meat in the Engage Journal. I finished reading Shalom Lappin’s piece, The Rise of a New Anti-Semitism in the UK, this morning and heartily recommend it.”
Simply Jews: “What can I say about this work? When we, the bloggers, get into a fight with some other bloggers or some authors whose work we despise, we can be voluble, we can be insulting, we can even be right – but it hardly moves the other side. When a person of David Hirsh’s caliber and intellect gets into the fray, it is not for a cheap retort of for a derisive comment or two. Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections is a seminal work that will be much quoted, studied and, of course, much criticized by a certain segment of scientific (oh well…) community.”
Bob from Brockley: “Having spent a lot of time this time last year addding whatever very meagre force this blog might have to the fight against my own trade union’s boycott policy on Israeli academics, here we go again, with the union (NATFHE) mine is merging with later this year. The main clearing house for the struggle is the indespensible Engage website.”
Charlie Pottins: “A boycott targetting institutions on the other hand, as the AUT conference originally attempted, is a legitimate idea, particularly if the institutions are shown to have government links or be involved in oppressive policies. The anti-boycott group Engage seems unable or unwilling to see the difference, and its big man Dave Hirsh has been urging members of the new academic union UCU to demand of candidates for office where they stand on “boycotting Israeli colleagues”, as though that was being raised.
Sue Blackwell: “Jon Pike, you know very well that while I am certainly an outspoken supporter of the campaign to boycott Israeli institutions, I have NEVER campaigned to “exclude Israeli academics from UK campuses”. Considering that such an action would be illegal (discrimination on the grounds of nationality) and that you are thereby accusing me of advocating a course of action which would be in breach of the law, I consider your
remark defamatory. I’m happy to have a debate about race discrimination once you stop attributing things to me which I have never said or advocated.
Please retract it at once, and publish a correction, otherwise I will be compelled to resort to legal action, which is really not my style.”
Seumas Milne, the Guardian: “More telling still is [Hirsh’s] perverse and contemptible claim that I was “apologizing for, and denying, racism against Jews”. I was of course doing the opposite. As I said in my earlier post, the Hamas charter of 1988 was a “reactionary, anti-Jewish document”, but it has been repeatedly disavowed in recent years by Hamas leaders, specifically in relation to the anti-Jewish tropes.
Democratiya: “With the above in mind, we thus proceed by saying—mega-kudos to David Hirsh! For three reasons: First and foremost, for having written a substantial mini-monograph really (rather than ‘merely’ a paper), on arguably the central topic of concern for progressive politics in the advanced industrial world today. Second, for having done so with immense erudition, displaying both an impressive grasp of political theory and European history, and clear mastery of a (lamentably) vast sea (swamp?) of empirical data, representative of the unpleasant phenomena he analyzes. And third, for having had the patience to digest reams of stuff, much of it not only vile, mean-spirited, mendacious and offensive, but plainly risible, were it not so potent.”
Steven Rose: “The usual Hirsh-Pike gang are of course at it; though as AUT members they can’t actually take part in the debate they are circulating a letter objecting to the apartheid comparison. Why pick on Israel, they say, rather than Zimbabwe or Saudi Arabia? …But this is no argument at all; there are many ways of putting pressure on distasteful and illegal regimes, and if they think boycotting Zimbabwean universities would be appropriate, then I suggest they propose it in a resolution to their union next year.” [perhaps nobody told Rose that Mugabe has closed down the University of Harare]
Lenin’s tomb: Zionist academic David Hirsh of Goldsmith’s College provides further such ‘examples’ in the same comments box. … Galloway is then quoted as saying that Israel engaged in activities to drive Jewish people out of Arab countries. This happens to be true… What I’m saying is that these calumnious slagheaps, who are themselves – all of them – apologists for Israel, a racist settler state whose very existence relies upon ethnic cleansing, really have more to worry about than, say, Endemol productions. In fact, Respect could use a nice shiny new bus, so I hope George can be persuaded to sue. [Richard Seymour's idol George Galloway never did sue; and if he had have done, and won, who would have got the minibus in the SWP-Galloway divorce?]
Palestine Chronicle: “The clinking champagne glasses on Engage’s website said it all. The movement established to oppose the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions was celebrating a victory, as the British University and College Union (UCU) announced that to even discuss the boycott risked “infringing discrimination legislation”. The boycott of Israel, it seemed, had suffered a blow. Engage and their fellow-travellers popped open the bubbly at the end of what must have seemed like a rather good week. Days earlier, the UK’s Socialist Worker had published an article in which the boycott was called into question for tactical reasons. Smugly, it was noted that “even” the “Israel-demonising” Socialist Worker’s Party now doubted the boycott. … Undoubtedly the UCU decision is a setback for the Palestine solidarity movement…”
Tony Greenstein, in an “open” email sent to every academic at Goldsmiths, where David Hirsh teaches: “Zionism is however indisputably racist. The mere fact that you and I can ‘return’ to a country and live in it as citizens, whereas Palestinians born and brought up there cannot is testimony to that fact. …That we have many disagreements on the above issues is one thing. But why do you feel the need to caricature your opponents’ views, to deny them a right of reply and to refuse even to let readers of your own blog know that there has been such a refusal? What do you have to gain by such dishonesty?”
“David Hirsh has been in the forefront of the fight against the Israel boycotters, and his new work shows why. He understands what is new, and what is inherited, in contemporary anti-Semitism, and he is uncompromising and rigorous in his analyses of today’s anti-Semitic tropes. He is both an activist and a scholar, a true heir to those engaged intellectuals who defended Dreyfus, and a great credit to Anglo-Jewry. This paper demonstrates the incoherence and malice of the new anti-Zionism, and will be indispensable to everyone committed to defending Jews against their latest, newest enemies.”
- Anthony Julius, Consultant Mishcon de Reya, Visiting Professor of Literature at Birkbeck College
“This is essential reading for anyone who wishes to unravel the thorny and deeply controversial issues concerning the relationship between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. It is also a committed and lucid exposition of why we should be worried about the growing respectability of antisemitic ideas.”
- Robert Fine, Professor of Sociology at Warwick University
“Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism is written with careful attention to detail and extensive effort to be fair, but is wonderfully thorough and does not shy away from provocative point making. Hirsh argues that an exaggerated hostility toward Israel and simpleminded views of Zionism and Israel produce a dangerous discourse and politics, which slip toward antisemitism. This is a powerful analysis, informed, capable, and presented with political fervor.”
- Kenneth Waltzer, Professor of History and Director of Jewish Studies, Michigan State University
“This is not a tract for someone who thinks in monochrome. David Hirsh skillfully unravels the contradictions in ideology and language within which the British Left has enmeshed itself when it comes to Jews, Zionism and Israel.”
- Colin Shindler, Reader in Israeli and Modern Jewish Studies, Chair, Centre for Jewish Studies, SOAS, University of London
John Wight, activist in Scottish Palestine Solidarity and Edinburgh Stop the War wrote the following shortly after Engage had challenged him for directing us to an article on a Holocaust denial website and for writing the this: “As soon as the scales fall from the eyes of international Jewry with regard to the racist and fascist ideology that is Zionism, the world will begin to emerge from the iron heel of war and brutality in the Middle East.”arguing that “international Jewry” stood opposed to all progressive forces in the world”:
“Currrently, I am being skewered by the good folks over at the Engage forum for my pro-Palestine articles and activism. I am now being labelled antisemitic. I posted on here a letter I wrote on behalf of the SPSC to East Renfrewshire Council protesting their endorsement of a pro-Israel event, a letter containing hard historical facts with regard to Israel’s ehtnic cleansing and apartheid, and the only comment on it was to the effect that the SPSC are antisemitic. … Pander to this kind of McCarthyism and you end up politically castrated. Anti-Zionism does NOT equate to antisemitism, much as Israel’s apologists try to make out.”
Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: “The first was a general plenary, with speeches on the general picture in terms of pro-boycott campaigning (mainly in the unions) and resistance to it. The two speeches we managed to hear (we were let in late) were from Jon Pike and Dave Hirsh, both … well-known UCU activists. Both, this or that detail aside, gave very good speeches: left-wing, labour movement-focussed and clear about the need for solidarity with the Palestinians.”
Muslim Public Affiars Committee (MPAC): “This is terrible! I just took a peek at the zionist smearsite, Engage, and they have a post accusing the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK of antisemitism. I know it’s no big deal to be accused of antisemitism by Engage but this time they are accusing them of antisemitism over a post that likens the zionists’ wall to the Warsaw Ghetto.”
The Guardian: “David Hirsh, an AUT member, added: “It may not have anti-semitic motivations, but if you organise an academic boycott of Israeli Jewish academics but no one else in the world, that is an anti-semitic policy. What’s Natfhe going to do? Set up a committee before which Israeli academics will be hauled?”