Nick Cohen. Here.
John Mann. Here.
The following motion was passed nem. con. by Oxford UCU on 12 February 2009:
DEEPLY REGRETTING the loss of life and the suffering that has resulted from the renewal of violent conflict in the Middle East;
RECALLING that its predecessor, Oxford AUT, passed nem. con. on 10 May 2005 a motion affirming its support for the Principle of Universality of Science and Learning, which requires academics to refrain from discrimination on the basis of ‘such factors as citizenship, religion, creed, political stance, ethnic origin, race, colour, language, age or sex’;
FURTHER RECALLING that at a meeting on 6 February 2007 Oxford UCU reiterated nem. con. its support for this Principle, which is not only a cornerstone of academic freedom but also a contribution towards lessening tension between hostile peoples;
NOTING that the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy prohibits discrimination on the grounds of ‘age, colour, disability, ethnic origin, marital status, nationality, national origin, parental status, race, religion or belief, gender, or sexual orientation’;
NOTING ALSO, however, that on 28 May 2008 the Annual Congress of UCU passed a motion entitled ‘Palestine and the occupation’ (‘Motion 25’);
REAFFIRMS its adherence to the Principle of Universality of Science and Learning;
REJECTS attempts to hold all academics of a country responsible for the actions of their government;
REPUDIATES Motion 25; and
APPLAUDS the University’s unequivocal assurance that nobody applying for, or appointed to, a post in the University will suffer discrimination on the grounds of his or her nationality.
Proposed by Michael Yudkin
Seconded by Denis Noble
Passed nem. con. (24 votes in favour, 0 against, 1 abstention).
Mike Cushman of BRICUP, the pro-boycott organisaiton, has sent out the following advice to his supporters, attached to the Engage list of who we think people should vote for in the UCU NEC elections:
Remember how Mike Cushman was so outraged when people criticized the person in UCU who sent links to David Duke’s website around the union? here’s a reminder.
Cushman, remember, is also the man who came up with the following stereotype about Jews and their relationship to universities:
“Universities are to Israel what the springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.”
We have a very busy schedule set up until we leave. Meeting ministers,
more interviews, visiting universities, school hospital and civil
society groups, althjough it is Eid of course, so a lot of things are
Deadline is 5 March. For Engage’s advice on who to vote for, click here.
In an interview with TotallyJewish.com Chris Grayling, the Tory Shadow Home Secretary, went all vague and contradictory when asked about whether he supported boycotts of Israel.
First he said one shouldn’t give “broad brush answers” over these things.
Then he said that he didn’t think that “the language we should be using is about boycotts”.
Then he said that he didn’t want to say whether a boycott of Israeli academia or goods was right or wrong.
So can we assume that the Tory Party would not understand the exclusion of Israeli scholars from British universities to be a violation of the principle of academic freedom and the norms of scientific co-operation?
Does the Conservative Party not understand that the boycott campaign wants to single out Israelis – and only Israelis – for exclusion from the global academic, artistic, economic, sporting and cultural community – but has no valid reason for discriminating in this way?
Is it unaware that experience shows that the campaign to exclude only Israelis brings antisemitic rhetoric with it – such as the demonization of Israel by saying that ‘Zionism’ is essentially racist or apartheid or Nazi; such as the grotesque magnification of the influence of the ‘Zionists’ on the global media; such as the portrayal of Israel as a state which murders non-Jewish children out of pure evil. It also brings with it lies about Israeli universities and misrepresentations of the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Is the Conservative Party unware that campaigns in Britain to exclude Israelis begin by focusing hostility on Jews in Britain who oppose such campaigns?
It is often said that disproportional hostlity to Israel – and the antisemtic ways of thinking which often result from it – is a phenomenon of the left. But it isn’t.
There is also a political tradition on the right which understands opposition to antisemitism to be against the British national interest; which understands Jews to be overly “touchy” about “criticism”; which supports a policy of appeasing anti-Israel political currents in the Middle East because it is thought to be good for business.
In February 2008, Peter McKay, a columnist, claimed in the Daily Mail that the reason British schoolchildren were taught about the Holocaust was so that it would “make them always take Israel’s side.” Jews, goes the claim, engineer a consciousness of antisemitism in a dishonest bid to protect Israel from criticism.
There is nothing left-wing about the “Israel Lobby” argument of Mearsheimer and Walt. It is an argument which appeals to a rather conservative notion of America’s “national interest” and which holds that the “Lobby” skews the US state to act against its own interest.
Someone in the Conservative Party should explain the issues to its new Shadow Home Secretary.
And people should be prepared to see anti-Zionist hostility emerging, increasingly, not only from the left, but also from the political centre and right.
The whole interview with Grayling is here and the two questions about the boycott are here:
What are your views of those who call for academic or trade boycotts of Israel?
CG: I think you should not give broad brush answers over those things. My view is that over the years the Israelis have done things that are wrong, the Palestinians have done things that are wrong. Actually right now, I don’t think the language we should be using is about boycotts, I think the language we should be using is all about how the International community can help broker, mediate a long term solution… The language should not be about boycotts, the language should be talking about constructive engagement.
Do you oppose boycott proposals when it comes to academic or just general Israeli goods?
CG: I think it’s not an area we should get involved in discussing because I think the moment you start to say I want a boycott or I don’t want a boycott or it’s right or it’s wrong, you’re putting yourself in a position where you can’t be that honest broker. So I think people can suggest what they want but I think the job of the government in this country is to be part of an international effort to try and take the Middle East towards peace.
UPDATE: Bizarely, for a man who seems unable unequivocally to criticize the boycott campaign, Grayling has a whole comment piece in the JC, saying how tough he’s going to be against antisemitism!!