Ben Cohen takes it personally, on Z Word.
What would it looke like? Jimmy Bradshaw has some ideas. On Harry’s Place.
Bob From Brockley comments on some of the protest about Gaza in today’s Guardian. He gives particular attention to the letter signed by 322 UK academics calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel:
“Many of the signatories profess one or another form of Marxism. Yet, in the utterly ahistorical framing of its argument, the letter violates one of Marx’s core principles: that politics is always historical, that categories are always in movement. A “a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed…” Here, history dissolves. “Israel” becomes a mythical beast, frozen in the endless repetition of its evil actions. Did the Israel of 1948 use “overwhelming military force”? Or, rather, were not the weapons it had to hand those the Palestinians used in the First Intifada?
And what do “the principle of democratic self-determination” and “the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation” mean in concrete terms? What, specifically, is the democratic self-determination of one ethnic group, if it denies that to another? What, even more to the point, does “Israel must lose”? The obligation to take sides the signatories claim is no more pressing in this case than it is in the case of the Hutu and the Tutsi, where self-determination for one can mean extermination for the other in a zero-sum game. “Justice and peaceful co-existence” cannot spring from the defeat of Israel by Hamas, any more than justice and peaceful co-existence can be achieved by bombing Gaza into dust.
It is true, of course, that the conflict is not symmetrical, and that Gaza’s electorate voted for Hamas. But the signatories of the letter are stuck in the reality of the First Intifada, when the figure of “Palestinian resistance” was the child throwing stones at an Israeli tank. Since then, we have seen the militarisation of the Palestinian struggle, the evacuation of all social content from it: the suicide bomber rather than the stone thrower. And, now, in this Third Intifada, the stones have been replaced by rockets supplied by the Iranian theocracy.
So, when the signatories talk about “the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation” and say “Israel must lose”, the reality is the triumph of a fascist state, not the beginning of justice. The Hamas regime, which continues to fire on Israel, which continues to deploy its its children as human shields, which murders its political opponents, which brutalises its own population, does not represent “the people of Gaza and the West Bank”, any more than the Ayatollahs represent the people of Iran or the Nazi state represented the people of Germany.
What the people of Gaza need, rather than this sort of hollow gestural pseudo-solidarity, is precisely a ceasefire and humanitarian assistance. Cheering on their war-mongers will not bring them justice or peace.
The reason this letter is not just nonsense, then, but pernicious nonsense, as J Frank Parnell might have said, is…”
Anglo-Jewry is in the middle of the worst outbreak of antisemitism in Britain since the Community Security Trust started keeping records a quarter of a century ago.
Since the start of the Israeli offensive into Gaza on December 27, more than 150 incidents across the country have been recorded.
CST director of communications Mark Gardner said: “Antisemites are using an overseas conflict as an excuse for their racism, and this should be clearly condemned by all sectors of society. In particular, we are seeing the inevitable antisemitic impact of many years of anti-Israel hysteria, in addition to an enraged response to TV and newspaper images of this conflict.”
There have been assaults on individuals, an arson attack on a synagogue, dozens of incidents involving hate mail, emails and threatening and abusive telephone calls and many daubings and graffiti.
Communal leaders have been involved in a flurry of political activities this week, meeting Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Monday and Communities and Local Government secretary Hazel Blears on Tuesday.
Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Leadership Council and Jon Benjamin of the Board of Deputies, said: “The community should feel reassured that their concerns are being clearly and regularly articulated at the heart of government during these difficult times.”
One aim of the meetings was to persuade the government to speak out about the startling rise in antisemitism. The only mention by a minister had been a letter from Mr Miliband to Board of Deputies president Henry Grunwald last Friday, in which he said: “I am alarmed at the attempts of extremist voices in the UK to use the conflict to legitimise antisemitic sentiments. I remain concerned by reports of this rhetoric manifesting itself in violent acts and threats against UK synagogues and the Jewish community.”
On Tuesday, the CST, in a deputation with the Board and the Jewish Leadership Council, presented Ms Blears and junior minister Sadiq Khan with a dossier of the incidents. They outlined their concerns about security, particularly near schools and campuses.
After the meeting, Ms Blears said: “The government strongly condemns the increase in antisemitic incidents and understands the fears and concerns of the Jewish community in Britain. British Jews, like all communities, must be able to live their lives free from fear of verbal or physical attack.”
On Wednesday, Ms Blears sent a letter to all synagogues in Britain saying that the government would not “tolerate racists and trouble-makers disrupting our local communities” and that “international events, however distressing, provide no justification for violence”. She said it was “important to recognise, and to build on, the excellent interfaith work and dialogue that both the Muslim and Jewish communities have developed in recent years”.
A young Orthodox man was viciously beaten after last Wednesday’s pro-Israel rally in what is perhaps the most serious incident.
Daniel Lowe, from Hendon, a bearded Orthodox Jew who wears a kippah, was a founding member of MuJewz, the Muslim-Jewish dialogue group at Oxford University. He had attended last Wednesday night’s pro-Israel rally in Kensington and was on his way to visit friends nearby afterwards when he was attacked.
He said: “As I was about to knock on their door, someone behind me said hello.” He turned to find two men of Asian appearance, one wearing a Palestinian flag on his jacket, the other wearing a keffiyeh. “They asked me where I had been. When I told them it was none of their business, they punched me in the head, pushed me to the ground and kicked me.”
Mr Lowe said the attack made him even more determined to attend Sunday’s Trafalgar Square event: “Jews shouldn’t be attacked for expressing their views in public.”
On Tuesday, a gang of Palestinian supporters forced their way into the offices in central London of the Israel lobbying organisation Bicom after a man called saying he was delivering a parcel.
Eight men and women — one armed with a loudhailer — shouted at and intimidated staff, ripped out computer cables, cut telephone lines and threw leaflets out of the windows.
One staff member said: “They were very aggressive, and asked whether we were Jewish and why we were supporting Israel. It was very frightening.”
It is understood that detectives at Westminster are investigating the criminal damage and viewing CCTV footage of the incident.
Bicom chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons said: “The vandalism and thuggery at our offices and against my staff this morning was utterly reprehensible. Bicom is a pro-peace organisation that promotes understanding and dialogue, often promoting moderate Palestinian voices for the sake of a speedy and peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East.”
Both Marks & Spencer and John Lewis contacted suppliers this week to ask whether goods they stocked originated from Israel.
But both companies insisted that they were regular routine calls and that the timing was coincidental.
On Saturday, three protestors were arrested after occupying an Israeli-owned cosmetics store in central London.
The protestors chained themselves to the door of the Ahava store in Covent Garden, forcing it to close for around five hours. They also hung a banner in the window accusing the company of “funding Israeli war crimes in Gaza”.
A protest in Belfast on Saturday by pro-Palestinian campaigners against a stall selling Israeli products is being investigated by police as a racially motivated incident. Video footage posted on the internet showed the Sea Spa stall, which sells Dead Sea cosmetics, being deluged with leaflets from a balcony above as demonstrators shouted “Boycott Israeli goods”.
In Bristol, one man was arrested after about 30 pro-Palestinian protestors entered a city centre branch of Marks & Spencer, filled their trollies with Israeli produce and then refused to pay.
Birmingham City Council failed to agree a statement on the Middle East crisis after a debate on Tuesday. Both the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and the Labour opposition had released statements before the meeting supporting an immediate ceasefire, but could not resolve their differences. A discussion document supporting sanctions against Israel had been presented by four out of the 120 city councillors, from the Labour, Lib Dem, Conservative and Respect parties. But it was not tabled as a resolution, nor was any vote taken.
A speech by Muslim academic Azam Tamimi, who spoke at last Saturday’s anti-Israel rally, shouting: “We’re all Hamas now,” has been reported to the police.
A CST spokesman said it had taken “numerous enquiries” about whether the speech breached anti-terrorism legislation.
“The CST will do its utmost to ensure that the police are made aware of our community’s concerns. We have been asked about a speech at last Saturday’s anti-Israel rally that may breach glorification of terrorism legislation. This will be passed to police for their consideration and possible investigation.”
Israeli sources confirmed this week that a planned flying visit by Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu to London had been postponed after Downing Street failed to give him the opportunity of a meeting with Gordon Brown.
“…In my country, I’m a traitor. Fair game. But the minute I leave Israel,
I’m an Israeli. Not a lefty. An Israeli, an occupier, and again – fair
“If you demonstrate, please do it in a way that will make a difference.
Not just anti-Israel, but with signs calling for a cease fire and the
acceptance of UN resolution 1860 by both sides…”
Read the whole piece on Harry’s Place.
Interesting piece on antisemitism by Elizabeth Wurtzel on Comment is Free.
See also the Cif commenters who ably demonstrate that Wurtzel is not inventing antisemitism.
The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.
Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.
We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.
We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Professor Gilbert Achcar, Development Studies, SOAS
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, Gender Studies, SOAS
Professor Eric Alliez, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. Jens Andermann, Latin American Studies, Birkbeck
Dr. Jorella Andrews, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths
Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson, Philosophy, University of Warwick
John Appleby, writer
Dr. Claudia Aradau, Politics, Open University
Dr. Walter Armbrust, Politics, University of Oxford
Dr. Andrew Asibong, French, Birkbeck
Professor Derek Attridge, English, University of York
Burjor Avari, lecturer in Multicultural Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr. Zulkuf Aydin, International Development, University of Leeds
Dr. Claude Baesens, Mathematics, University of Warwick
Dr. Jennifer Bajorek, Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths
Professor Mona Baker, Centre for Translation Studies, University of Manchester
Jon Baldwin, lecturer in Communications, London Metropolitan University
Professor Etienne Balibar, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
Dr. Trevor Bark, Criminology, WEA Newcastle
Dr. Susan Batchelor, Sociology, Glasgow University
Dr. David Bell, Tavistock Clinic and British Psychoanalytic Society
Dr. Anna Bernard, English, University of York
Professor Henry Bernstein, Development Studies, SOAS
Anindya Bhattacharyya, writer and journalist
Dr. Ian Biddle, Music, Newcastle University
Sana Bilgrami, filmmaker and lecturer, Napier University, Edinburgh
Professor Jon Bird, School of Arts & Education, Middlesex University
Nicholas Blincoe, writer
Dr. Jelke Boesten, Development Studies, University of Leeds
Dr. Julia Borossa, Psychoanalysis, Middlesex University
Dr. Mark Bould, Film Studies, UWE
Dr. Mehdi Boussebaa, Said Business School, University of Oxford
Professor Wissam Boustany, Trinity College of Music, London
Professor Bill Bowring, Law, Birkbeck
Dr. Alia Brahimi, Politics, University of Oxford
Professor Haim Bresheeth, Media Studies, University of East London
Professor John D Brewer, Sociology, Aberdeen
Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist
Professor Celia Britton, French, UCL
Professor Charles Brook, Paediatric Endocrinology, UCL
Dr. Muriel Brown, writer
Professor Ian Buchanan, Critical and Cultural Theory, University of Cardiff
Professor Ray Bush, African Studies and Development Politics, University of Leeds
Professor Alex Callinicos, European Studies, KCL
Dr. Conor Carville, Irish Studies, St. Mary’s University College
Professor Noel Castree, Geography, University of Manchester
Matthew Caygill, lecturer in History and Politics, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr. Rinella Cere, Arts, Design, Communication and Media, Sheffield Hallam University
Dr. John Chalcraft, Government, LSE
Dr. Claire Chambers, English Literature, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr. Sue Chaplin, Cultural Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University.
Dr. Sharad Chari, Geography, LSE
Dr. Lorenzo Chiesa, Critical Theory, University of Kent
Dr. Andrew Chitty, Philosophy, University of Sussex
Professor Emilios Christodoulidis, Law, Glasgow
Professor Sue Clegg, Education, Leeds Metropolitan University
Professor Claire Colebrook, English Literature, Edinburgh University
Dr. John Collins, Philosophy, UEA
Professor Guy Cook, Education and Language Studies, The Open University
Professor Diana Coole, Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck
Professor Annie E. Coombes, History of Art, Birkbeck
Charlie Cooper, lecturer in Social Policy, University of Hull
Julia Copus, poet
Professor Andrea Cornwall, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex
Dr. Don Crewe, Criminology, Roehampton University
Professor Simon Critchley, Philosophy, University of Essex
Dr. Stephanie Cronin, Social Sciences, University of Northampton
Eleanor Crook, sculptor & lecturer, University of the Arts London
Laura Cull, artist and researcher, Drama, University of Exeter
Dr. Sonia Cunico, Modern Languages, University of Leicester
Dr. David Cunningham, English, University of Westminster
Catherine Czerkawska, writer and historian
Dr. Sarah Dadswell, Drama, University of Exeter
Dr. Gareth Dale, Politics and History, Brunel University
Dr. Gary Daniels, Public Policy and Management, Keele University
Neil Davidson, Senior Research Fellow, Geography and Sociology, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Graham Dawson, Cultural History, University of Brighton
Christophe Declercq, lecturer in Translation, Imperial College London
Dr. Helen May Dennis, English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Dr. Caitlin DeSilvey, Geography, University of Exeter
Dr. Mark Devenney, Humanities, University of Brighton
Dr. Pat Devine, Social Science, University of Manchester
Dr. Jorge Díaz-Cintas, Translation, Imperial College London
Professor James Dickins, Arabic, University of Salford
Kay Dickinson, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College
Jenny Diski, writer
Dr. Bill Dixon, Sociology & Criminology, Keele University
Noel Douglas, lecturer and graphic designer, University of Bedfordshire
Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Law, University of Oxford
Professor Allison Drew, Department of Politics, University of York
Dr. Judit Druks, Psychology & Language Science, UCL
Professor Mick Dunford, Geography, University of Sussex
Dr. Sam Durrant, English, Leeds University
Dr. Graham Dyer, Economics, SOAS
Professor Abbas Edalat, Computer Science, Imperial College
Professor Rasheed El-Enany, Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
Gregory Elliott, writer and translator
Dr. Richard Elliott, Music, Newcastle University
Professor Hoda Elsadda, Arabic Studies, University of Manchester
Bernardine Evaristo, writer
Dr. Howard Feather, Sociology, London Metrolitan University
Professor Patrick ffrench, French, King’s College London
Dr. Clare Finburgh, Theatre Studies, University of Essex
Professor Jean Fisher, Fine Art, Middlesex University
Dominic Fox, writer
Dr. Jennifer Fraser, Spanish, Birkbeck
Professor Murray Fraser, Architecture, University of Westminster
Dr. Des Freedman, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths
Maureen Freely, writer and journalist, English, University of Warwick
Dr. Diane Frost, Sociology, University of Liverpool
Dr. Geetanjali Gangoli, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol
Juliet Gardiner, writer
Dr. James Garvey, philosopher
Professor Conor Gearty, Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE
Dr. Julie Gervais, Government, LSE.
Dr. Jeremy Gilbert, Cultural Studies, University of East London
Dr. Aisha Gill, Criminologist, Roehampton University, UK
Professor Paul Gilroy, Sociology, London School of Economics
Charles Glass, writer
Dr. Andrew Goffey, Media, Middlesex
Professor Barry Goldson, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool
Professor Philip Goodchild, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham
Dr. Paul Goodey, lecturer and oboist
Professor Ian Gough, Social Policy, University of Bath
Dr. David Graeber, Anthropology, Goldsmiths
Dr. James Graham, Media Culture and Communication, Middlesex University
Professor Penny Green, Law, Kings College London
Dr. Simon Gieve, Education, University of Leicester
Dr. Steve Hall, Sociology and Criminology, Northumbria
Professor Peter Hallward, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Keith Hammond, lecturer in Education, University of Glasgow
Dr. Sameh F. Hanna, Translation Studies, University of Salford
Nicky Harman, lecturer in Translation, Imperial College London
M John Harrison, writer
Dr. Rumy Hasan, Science & Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
Owen Hatherley, journalist and academic
Dr. Jane Haynes, writer & dialogic psychotherapist
Dr. Jonathan Hensher, French Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Barry Heselwood, Linguistics & Phonetics, University of Leeds
Tom Hickey, Tutor in Philosophy, Politics and Aesthetics, University of Brighton
Dr. Jane Hiddleston, Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Dr. Nicki Hitchcott, French and Francophone Studies, University of Nottingham
Professor Eric Hobsbawm, President, Birkbeck
Dr. Jane Holgate, Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University
Professor Derek Holt, Mathematics, University of Warwick
Professor Ted Honderich, Philosophy, UCL
Professor David Howell, Politics, University of York
Professor Richard Hudson, Linguistics, UCL
Professor John Hutnyk, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths
Dr. Colin Imber, Turkish, University of Manchester
Professor Lyn Innes (emeritus), English, University of Kent
Professor Yosefa Loshitzky, Film, Media and Cultural Studies, University of East London
Dr. Lars Iyer, Philosophy, Newcastle University
Dr. Ian James, French, University of Cambridge
Dr. Daniel Katz, English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Dr. Mark Kelly, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Joanna Gilmore, lecturer in the School of Law, University of Manchester
Susan Kelly, lecturer in Fine Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Christian Kerslake, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. Alexander King, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
David Kinloch, poet
Dr. Dianne Kirby, History and International Affairs, University of Ulster
Dr. Graeme Kirkpatrick, Sociology, University of Manchester
Dr. Laleh Khalili, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Dr. Stathis Kouvelakis, European Studies, KCL
Professor Basil Kouvaritakis, Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Dr. John Kraniauskas, Spanish, Birkbeck
Dr. Cecile Laborde, Political Science, UCL
Professor Ernesto Laclau, Government, Essex
Dave Laing, writer and journalist
Dr. Juan Antonio Lalaguna, Humanities, Imperial College London
Professor William Large, Philosophy, University College Plymouth, St Mark and St John
Nicholas Lawrence, lecturer in English & Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Professor Andrew Leak, French, UCL
Dr. Barbara Lebrun, French, University of Manchester
Dr. Keekok Lee, Philosophy, University of Manchester
Professor Esther Leslie, English and Humanities, Birkbeck
Dr. Jo Littler, Media and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University
Tim Llewellyn, journalist and writer
Dr. Caroline Lloyd, Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Dr. Jill Lovecy, Politics, University of Manchester
Simon Lynn, lecturer in Social Work, UEL
David Mabb, artist and Reader in Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Stephen Maddison, Cultural Studies, University of East London
Dr. Kevin Magill, Arts and Humanities, University of Wolverhampton
Michael Mahadeo, lecturer in Health and Social Sciences, University of Ulster
Dr. Suhail Malik, Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Johanna Malt, French, KCL
Dr. Matteo Mandarini, Business and Management, QMUL
Professor Susan Marks, Law, KCL
Dr. Lee Marsden, International Relations, University of East Anglia
Professor Lauro Martines, historian
Dr. Luciana Martins, Spanish, Birkbeck College
Dr. Nur Masalha, Religion and Politics, St Mary’s University College
Dr. Dina Matar, Centre for Media and Film Studies, SOAS
Dr. Graeme Macdonald, English, University of Warwick
Professor (emeritus) Moshé Machover, Philosophy, KCL
Dr. Maeve McCusker, French Studies, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr. James McDougall, History, SOAS
Dr. Sonia McKay, Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University
Dr. Susan McManus, Politics, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr. Saladin Meckled-Garcia, Human Rights Studies, UCL
Professor Susan Melrose, Performing Arts, Middlesex University
Dr. Farah Mendlesohn, Media and Creative Writing, Middlesex University
Dr. Mahmood Messkoub, Business, University of Leeds
Dr. China Miéville, writer and academic
Dr. Anna-Louise Milne, French, University of London Institute in Paris
Dr. Surya Monro, Politics, University of Sheffield
John Moore, lecturer in Sociology & Criminology, University of the West of England
Professor Bart Moore-Gilbert, English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths
Dr Farhang Morady, Globalisation and Development, University of Westminster
Dr. Stephen Morton, English, Southampton University
Dr. Pablo Mukherjee, English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick
Professor John Mullarkey, Philosophy, University of Dundee
Professor John Muncie, Criminology, The Open University
Professor Martha Mundy, Anthropology, LSE
Dr. Alex Murray, English, University of Exeter
Dr. Karma Nabulsi, Politics, University of Oxford
Ali Nasralla, Senior Fellow (retired) at Manchester University Business School
Professor Mica Nava, Cultural Studies, University of East London
Marga Navarrete, Lecturer in Spanish and Translation, Imperial College
Dr. Nick Nesbitt, French, Aberdeen
Dr. Michael Niblett, Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Warwick
Professor Christopher Norris, Philosophy, University of Cardiff
Julia O’Faolain, writer
Michael Oliva, composer and lecturer, Royal College of Music
Wendy Olsen, Development Studies, University of Manchester
Professor Peter Osborne, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. George Paizis, French, UCL
Professor Ilan Pappé, History, University of Exeter
Professor Benita Parry, English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick
Dr. Diana Paton, History, Newcastle University
Dr. Ian Patterson, Queens’ College, Cambridge
Lara Pawson, writer and journalist
Dr. Maeve Pearson, English, University of Exeter
Carmen Perea-Gohar, lecturer in Spanish, Imperial College
Dr. Luis Perez-Gonzalez, Translation Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Andrea Phillips, Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Nina Power, Philosophy, Roehampton University
Dr. Jane Poyner, English, University of Exeter
Professor Scott Poynting, Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr. Nicola Pratt, Political, Social & International Studies, UEA
Professor Al Rainnie, Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester
Dr. Kamran Rastegar, Arabic and Persian Literatures, University of Edinburgh
Professor Jane Rendell, Architecture, UCL
Professor Dee Reynolds, French, University of Manchester
Dr. Chris Roberts, School of Community Based Medicine, University of Manchester
Dr. Mark Robson, English Studies, University of Nottingham
Professor William Roff, Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh
Professor Bill Rolston, Sociology, University of Ulster
Caroline Rooney, English and Postcolonial Studies, Kent
Professor Hilary Rose, Social Policy, University of Bradford
Michael Rosen, writer
Dr. Elaheh Rostami-Povey, Development Studies, SOAS
Professor William Rowe, Spanish and English, Birkbeck
Dr. Juliet Rufford, Theatre Studies, University of Reading
Professor Jonathan Rutherford, Cultural Studies, Middlesex University
Professor Alfredo Saad Filho, Development Studies, SOAS
Dr. Gabriela Saldanha, English Language, University of Birmingham
Dr. Shahira Samy, Politics, University of Oxford
Dr. Stella Sandford, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Professor Sanjay Seth, Politics, Goldsmiths
Carole Satyamurti, writer
Professor Yezid Sayigh, War Studies, KCL
Professor Phil Scraton, Law and Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast
Professor Richard Seaford, Classics and Ancient History, University of Exeter
Amanda Sebestyen, writer and asylum campaigner
Professor David Seddon, Development Studies, University of East Anglia
Richard Seymour, writer and activist
Dr. Subir Sinha, Development Studies, SOAS
Dr. Debra Benita Shaw, Social Sciences, Media & Cultural Studies, University of East London
Professor Avi Shlaim, International Relations, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Mark Shuttleworth, lecturer in Translation, Imperial College London
Professor David Slater, Geography, Loughborough University
Dr. Andrew Smith, Sociology, Anthropology and Applied Social Science, University of Glasgow
Dr. Graham Smith, Law, University of Manchester
Professor Neil Smith (emeritus), Linguistics, UCL
Olivia Smith, Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr. Anthony Soares, Portuguese, Queen’s University Belfast
Ahdaf Soueif, writer and journalist
Professor William Spence, Physics, QMUL
Dr. Robert Spencer, Postcolonial Literatures, University of Manchester
Professor Paul Stewart, Human Resource Management, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Alison Stone, Philosophy, Lancaster
Colin Stoneman, writer
Professor Paul Sutton, Caribbean Studies, London Metropolitan University
Professor Helen Taylor, English, University of Exeter
Professor Phil Taylor, Business, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Jennifer Terry, English Studies, University of Durham
Dr. Nicholas Thoburn, Sociology, University of Manchester
Adriana Tortoriello, translator
Dr. Alberto Toscano, Sociology, Goldsmiths
Professor Martin Upchurch, Business, Middlesex University
Dr. Anastasia Valassopoulos, English and American Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Rashmi Varma, English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Dr. Ritu Vij, International Relations, University of Aberdeen
Professor Dennis Walder, Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open University
Dr. Geoffrey Wall, English, University of York
Sean Wallis, Survey of English Usage, UCL
Dr. Vron Ware, Social Sciences, The Open University
Dr. Eyal Weizman, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
Professor Lynn Welchman, Law, SOAS
Dr. Jutta Weldes, Politics, University of Bristol
Tony White, writer
Geoff Whittam, Reader in Entrepreneurship, University of the West of Scotland
Dr. David Whyte, Sociology, University of Liverpool
Dr. Paula Wilcox, Criminology, University of Brighton
Dr. Caroline Williams, Politics, QMUL
Professor Eddie Williams, Linguistics, Bangor University
Professor James Williams, Philosophy, University of Dundee
Dr. Carla Willig Psychology, City University
Dr. Jon E. Wilson, History, KCL
Dr. Nicole Wolf, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths
Dr. Jim Wolfreys, French and European Politics, KCL
Professor Andy Wood, History, University of East Anglia
Professor Geof Wood, International Development, University of Bath
Robin Yassin-Kassab, novelist
Professor Nira Yuval-Davis, Gender & Ethnic Studies, University of East London
Dr. Shamoon Zamir, American Studies, KCL
Professor Slavoj Zizek, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
Dr. Paquita de Zulueta, Medicine, Imperial College
Engage has opposed the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel since 2005 when the proposal was discussed and rejected in the old union.
What we were afraid would come with the boycott campaign is now happening.
The UCU branch at SOAS, University of London, is campaigning to have Israeli lecturers silenced. The students union is also campaigning for such an exclusion. Both are mounting pickets to prevent the Israelis from giving lectures.
The UCU branch is behaving like an unrepresentative body at SOAS and it is not representing UCU members, or academics more widely, faithfully or wisely. The administration at SOAS and many academics are standing bravely against the threat to academic freedom.
What have things come to when the management at SOAS is having to protect academics and students against the anti-intellectual, anti-democratic and antisemitic actions of the union?
The boycott campaign often tried to hide its real intentions. It angrily denied that it was in favour of the exclusion of Israeli scholars from UK campuses. It said that it was for a boycott only of Israeli institutions but not of Israeli human beings. The campaign claimed that this would be a victimless exclusion.
Colin Shindler, professor of Israel Studies, has organized the lecture series to mark the hundredth anniversary celebrations of the city of Tel Aviv. Colin is now being bombarded, constantly, with highly aggressive, vituperative emails from many people but most worryingly from his academic and union colleagues. Colin is not Israeli. Colin is Jewish. He has a long and distinguished record of political activity as an activist for peace between Israel and Palestine.
Engage argued that a campaign to exclude Israelis – and only Israelis – was always likely to yield to the temptation to indulge in antisemitic rhetoric and antisemitic demonization. We predicted it and we described and opposed it when it happened. Now the UCU branch at SOAS is describing the current Israeli attacks on Hamas as being like the Holocaust.
Of course people have different opinions about the morality and the wisdom of the Israeli attacks. We should argue with each other about what we in Britain can do to help move towards a just peace in the Middle East.
But to represent the current conflict as being like the Holocaust is in my view outside of the boundaries of what could be understood as debate or argument.
It saddens me and it embarrasses me that I am now in a position where I have to explain to some academic and union colleagues what happened during the Holocaust. I thought they knew.
The Nazi regime segregated Jews from non-Jews in order to kill them. It concentrated them by force into tiny city neighbourhoods called ghettos as part of the process of murdering them. The regime also organized special police battalions to follow the front line as it invaded Russia and other countries in order to separate out and to kill Jews. Many other Jews were shipped to death camps, which were industrialized factories for killing people, where they were killed. The Nazis wanted to kill all the Jews in the world because they believed the existence of Jews to be incompatible with a safe and just world. Between five and six million Jews were murdered in this way in Europe between 1941 and 1945.
I don’t think any legitimate description of the current conflict is anything like this. This is a military conflict between two sides, “asymmetric” for sure, but this is not a “massacre” or a genocide. There is no Israeli intent or project to kill Palestinian non combatants or to wipe the world free of Palestinians. There is nothing like that. There is a horrible war in a heavily populated area. Almost any analogy is a better fit than the analogy with the Holocaust.
So why do the people who are trying to picket out the Israeli Jews from speaking at SOAS insist on making this analogy?
They do it to upset Jews and they do it to mobilize anger and resentment against Israel.
It is a rhetorical device whose primary function is Jew-baiting.
It upsets Jews to be called Nazis. Why? Because Jews are not Nazis. And because Nazis murdered our grandparents and their brothers and sisters and parents and daughters and uncles and sons.
Israelis are mostly descended from refugees from European, Middle Eastern and Russian antisemitism. Israelis are there because Europeans allowed them to be pushed out of Europe by Nazis.
If you are against the war then protest against the war. But don’t miminize the Holocaust by saying that a nasty local war between Israelis and Palestinians is similar. Or don’t hugely exaggerate the horror of what is going on in Gaza.
What is going on in Gaza is horrible. It requires no outlandish exaggeration.
Graham Dyer, who is leading the UCU campaign to exclude Israelis from SOAS has sent the following email around the UCU-Left list at SOAS accusing Engage of labelling him as antisemitic because he criticized Israel. Please re-read this piece which discusses the “Livingstone Formulation” way of responding to a concern about antisemitism.
Dyer relies on Matan Vilnai’s idiotic and demagogic threats from last February as a justification for the Jews=Nazis analogy. People might remember that at the time I wrote a critique of Vilnai here; Norman Geras also wrote one here.
We should not be guided by the vulgar and foolish Mitan Vilnai when we respond politically to events in the world.
The campaign to boycott Israeli academics and nobody else on the planet leads to attempts to picket out Jewish Israelis from speaking on UK campuses.
The campaign leads to harassment of Jews in Britain who are not Israelis.
The campaign leads to antisemitic rhetoric.
The campaign will, if it succeeds, whether it knows it or not, whether it wants to or not, mobilize an antisemitic movement against Jews in Britain.
The campaign needs to be defeated by debate in the union.
It also needs to be opposed when it starts to organize pickets of Israeli Jews from universities.
Goldsmiths, University of London
Yesterday Gideon Levy had a piece in Ha’aretz titled The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza (reproduced in full for the UCU Activists list in the style of the SWP with the subject line “The blood of Gaza’s children is on our hands”). A.B. Yehoshua responds today in an open letter:
“The doleful thought sometimes crosses my mind that it is not the children of Gaza or of Israel that you are pining for, but only for your own private conscience. Because if you are truly concerned about the death of our children and theirs, you would understand the present war – not in order to uproot Hamas from Gaza but to induce its followers to understand, and regrettably in the only way they understand in the meantime, that they must stop the firing unilaterally, stop hoarding missiles for a bitter and hopeless war to destroy Israel, and above all for the sake of their children in the future, so they will not die in another pointless adventure.
After all, now, for the first time in Palestinian history, after the Ottoman, British, Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli conquests, part of the Palestinians has gained a first and I hope not a last piece of land on which they are to maintain a full and independent government. And if they start building, developing and pursuing social endeavors, even according to Islamic religious law, they will prove to the whole world, and especially to us, that the moment we terminate the occupation they will be ready to live in peace with their surroundings, free to do as they wish, but also responsible for their deeds.
There is something absurd in the comparison you draw about the number of those killed. When you ask how it can be that they killed three of our children and we cause the killing of a hundred and fifty, the inference one can draw is that if they were to kill a hundred of our children (for example, by the Qassam rockets that struck schools and kindergartens in Israel that happened to be empty), we would be justified in also killing a hundred of their children.
In other words, it is not the killing itself that troubles you but the number. On the face of it, one could answer you cynically by saying that when there will be two hundred million Jews in the Middle East it will be permissible to think in moral terms about comparing the number of victims on each side. But that is, of course, a debased argument. After all, you, Gideon, who live among the people, know very well that we are not bent on killing Palestinian children to avenge the killing of our children. All we are trying to do is get their leaders to stop this senseless and wicked aggression, and it is only because of the tragic and deliberate mingling between Hamas fighters and the civilian population that children, too, are unfortunately being killed. The fact is that since the disengagement, Hamas has fired only at civilians. Even in this war, to my astonishment, I see that they are not aiming at the army concentrations along the border but time and again at civilian communities.”
It’s worth reading in full.