American Federation of Teachers show UCU the way

AFT

It really is that simple.  Sally Hunt and the leadership of the UCU just need to put out a reasonable statement opposing the campaign to boycott Israeli academics, supporting academic freedom and supporting open and informed debate about Israel and Palestine.  That is all they need to do.  Like the American Federation of Teachers has done:

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on a Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

In the aftermath of the war in Gaza, a number of Canadian and American professors and organizers have called for an academic boycott of Israel. These initiatives are similar to efforts by a group of British academics earlier this decade intended to block Israeli universities and professors from participating in academic conferences and other forums
outside of Israel.

Modeled on these efforts, a group of California academics in January 2009 initiated its own call for an academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars—the first we know of in the United States. Dubbing itself the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCACBI,) the campaign’s declared goal is to pressure Israel to end
its occupation and thereby “bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and end the occupation of Gaza and Palestine.”

In 2002, the executive council of the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution opposing such academic boycotts, calling them “anathema to academic freedom.” Since that time, the AFT has actively worked against academic boycott proposals aimed at Israel. Today, we want to reiterate that position. We believe academic
boycotts were a bad idea in 2002 and are a bad idea now. Academic boycotts are inconsistent with the democratic values of academic freedom and free expression.

In addition to opposing academic boycotts in principle, the AFT’s 2002 resolution objected to the rhetoric that accompanied the British academic boycott proposals, finding it to be one-sided and unsubstantiated. For example, the British proposals criticize only Israel, without mentioning any policies, statements or actions taken by the Palestinians— such as Hamas’ shelling of Israeli civilian targets or its unilateral breach of the cease fire—that have exacerbated the conflict.

The AFT was not alone in its criticism of the earlier British academic boycott movement (which was directed solely at Israel). The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), among other major U.S. organizations and leaders, was outspoken in its opposition. In 2006, an AAUP statement opposing academic boycotts expressed its
“long-standing opposition to the free exchange of ideas.” “We especially oppose selective academic boycotts that entail an ideological litmus test,” the AAUP declaration said.

Earlier this year, AAUP president Carl Nelson restated his organization’s opposition to academic boycotts. In 2007, nearly 300 American university presidents signed a public statement in opposition to academic boycotts. The author of that statement, Columbia University’s president Lee Bollinger, said, “If you boycott Israeli academics, you boycott
us at Columbia.”

We want to make clear that this position does not in any way discourage an open discussion and debate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or of ways to resolve it. However, we expect that such a discussion would not be one-sided and would consider the behavior of all the relevant actors. An academic boycott of Israel, or of any country, for that
matter, would effectively suppress free speech without helping to resolve the conflict. An academic boycott is the complete antithesis of academic freedom; therefore, it should not be supported by any individual or institution that subscribes to this basic principle of higher education and, indeed, of democratic discourse.

90 Responses to “American Federation of Teachers show UCU the way”

  1. fred Says:

    Weingarten writes:

    “such as Hamas’ shelling of Israeli civilian targets or its unilateral breach of the cease fire—that have exacerbated the conflict.”

    Who breached the ceasefire is a matter of some debate. On Nov. 17, 2008, Nahum Barnea, widely considered to be Israel’s most influential journalist, wrote the following, 13 days after the “lull” ended after the IDF entered Gaza for the first time since the lull agreement went into effect in June, in order to destroy a tunnel it claimed posed an imminent threat:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3624185,00.html
    “In recent days, the lull agreement has been repeatedly violated. Ashkelon was hit by Grad rockets. Sderot was hit by Qassams. It was a miracle that no injuries were reported. As always, the question being asked is who started it, and why? And as always, the answer is complex.

    “When facing the microphones, all Israeli officials placed the full responsibility on Hamas. Yet behind closed doors, some of them spoke differently. They spoke about over-zealous IDF commanders and about too-deep incursions by our forces into Gaza, which violated the rules of the game. According to this estimate, Hamas did not initiate the fire: It responded to Israel’s operations.”

    If you read Barnea’s sentence, it’s plain to see he is not placing the onus on Israel for ending the lull due to his being a softie:

    “Any way we look at this, the deal with Hamas is not a solution. Hamas needs to be removed.”

  2. Bill Says:

    “13 days after the “lull” ended after the IDF entered Gaza for the first time since the lull agreement went into effect in June, in order to destroy a tunnel it claimed posed an imminent threat”

    This is all too similar reasoning, Fred, to the very faulty study posted on Huffington Post sometime back (it was referred to in the comments here at E.WP.Com as the actions in Gaza were winding down). By that argument and this one, history would have the US entering into WW2 as the aggressor, when the USS Ward took out that Japanese midget sub at the entry to , even though Japan was effectively committed to the attack. Same goes here, tunnel activity is effectively a perquisite to illegal entry across an international border into Israeli (and on the other-side, Egyptian) territory. Even though you may argue it’s not Queensberry Rules, preemption (I’m no fan of it myself but I very grudgingly accept it) has always been apart of warcraft. And too often, it’s an essential one when an army or group of “militants” explicitly and maliciously targets your civilians, as is the case with Hamas and Hezbollah.

    As to the US resisting the idea of boycotting Jews and only Jews as the worst country in the world (except for all the others but “you’re changing the subject”), good luck, boycotters. The AFT statement delivers the a strong commitment to academic freedom (at least in this case) nicely.

  3. fred Says:

    Bill: the question is, did the tunnel truly pose an imminent threat?

    Zvi Barel, in an article titled “Crushing the tahadiyeh” in Ha’aretz Nov. 16, also thinks it was a deliberate provocation on Israel’s part to end the “lull:”
    http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/spages/1037571.html

    [..] Last week’s “ticking tunnel,” dug ostensibly to facilitate the abduction of Israeli soldiers, was not a clear and present danger: Its existence was always known and its use could have been prevented on the Israeli side, or at least the soldiers stationed beside it removed from harm’s way.

    [..] It is impossible to claim that those who decided to blow up the tunnel were simply being thoughtless. The military establishment was aware of the immediate implications of the measure, as well as of the fact that the policy of “controlled entry” into a narrow area of the Strip leads to the same place: an end to the lull. That is policy – not a tactical decision by a commander on the ground.
    —–

    Barel’s analysis is buttressed by the off the record comments by officials to Barnea. it should at least provoke more discussion of who was responsible for the breakdown of the ceasefire.

    Can you provide a more precise link to the criticism of that Huffpo study?

    • Bill Says:

      Fred, here’s the link as it was given to Engage (which includes comments after from both me and Brian) Like I said, it means that we imperialist Yanks were the aggressors against poor helpless Japan. Also note that some of their definitions lean towards counting not only preemption but effectively counting interception as breaking a cease fire.

      https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/why-the-silence-over-attacks-on-israeli-campuses-colin-shindler/#comment-587

      You’re right, though, it does provoke discussion but I still have grave issues about this.

      I’d argue that the existence of a tunnel on it’s own (being dug, or complete) is, yeah, a “ticking tunnel” if that’s the buzz phrase. “Imminent” sounds too much to me like watch-n-wait. This isn’t an enlarged prostate, it’s a lump on the breast. This isn’t kids playing with shovels here digging to China in the backyard. These tunnels are part of a paramilitary strategy to cross an international border. And like I said, I’m not the biggest fan of preemption by a long shot, but those “tunnels” were (and are) not playing nice by the rules of war and I have a lot of trouble accepting that you have to wait for them to have a ribbon cutting ceremony with a kidnapped Israeli as the guest of honor to take them out because then its too late. Once again, we took out subs clearly prepping for a committed attack before the declaration of war was(n’t) delivered. (We can argue about the theory where FDR was “itchin’ fer it,” at a later time. though I have issues with that too since the Japanese were the ones with the fleet of Hawaii). Similarly in the cold war, let’s not forget that we were to launch not on launch but launch on warning for some time and the Soviets in the early days were somewhat more hair triggered since their missile infrastructure was above ground. And as such, I really can’t hold the Israelis to a higher standard (not to mention 23rd century standard as they so often are) than us.

  4. fred Says:

    so how do you explain barel & barnea? maybe they need to learn some WW2 history?

    • Bill Says:

      and cuban missile crisis too maybe (not sure that was “imminent” either… It wouldn’t hurt I think.

      But seriously, was a showdown between Hamas and the IDF ahem… “accelerated” by the IDF’s move against the tunnels? Yes, I do think so. But we also have to ask, seriously & honestly, when we look at the IDF vs the not-so-imminent-yet tunnels, was Hamas going to use those tunnels and fire more rockets when they were “reloaded”? Heck Yeah. (Pretty much “tahadiyeh” means, not preparations for a run at serious peace, but a somewhat unilaterally controlled, start-to-finish, break from fighting). And I’m sure any excuse, real or “convenient” would have been found to resume. And under any circumstances, I have trouble accepting the premise of “tahadiyeh” in the first place so I have more than a small problem debating it as an serious provision.

      For david’s comment, here’s another deal… US teaching unions are “specialized” to US teaching interests, and while “The Teacher’s Unions” are likely more powerful than “The Israel Lobby,” they look after their own first and last and don’t get “entangled in foreign affairs” (or SWP’s for that matter!) as their british cousins.

  5. david Says:

    Congratulations to the AFT. It’s really very simple when you don’t have an SWP to deal with, isn’t it.

    Perhaps Sally Hunt will take the hint. Although I rather doubt it.

  6. Anthony Randall Says:

    I’m trying to figure out how boycotting people whose actions you disagree with is an attack on free speech. I could boycott my next door neighbour but it doesn’t stop him talking, and academics are often quite eloquent.
    What this is about is people taking a moral position, on both sides. If my (British) government was dispatching catholics in northern ireland at a kill rate of 200 to 1 and I was keeping my head down and not protesting against it I wouldn’t be surprised if foreign academics wanted to boycott me and fellow UCU members, I wouldn’t be complaining. But I wouldn’t be feeling like my freedom of speech was violated either.

    • modernityblog Says:

      Anthony Randall you wrote:

      “I was keeping my head down and not protesting against it I wouldn’t be surprised if foreign academics wanted to boycott me and fellow UCU members,”

      you might remember, and hopefully a historian or specialist of the period might assist us, but during the 1980s there was a campaign by the British State in committing ex-judicial executions of Irish republicans, yet no one ever spoke about boycotting Britain, nor was anyone ever brought to account for these killings.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/7/newsid_2516000/2516155.stm

      Also, you might notice the tone of the Beeb article, equally, I don’t remember any critical articles in the British press of the period concerning State sanctioned murder, which is somewhat of an anomaly, when you think about it.

  7. David Hirsh Says:

    Anthony, here is a passage from my paper http://www.yale.edu/yiisa/workingpaper/hirsh/index.htm

    Howard Jacobson (2007) tells that a supporter of the boycott campaign wrote to him denying that they threatened the academic freedom of Israelis. He was not in favour of gagging or silencing Israeli voices but merely of refusing to listen to them. Jacobson argues that refusing to listen, closing your ears, is not primarily an act of violence against the speaker but is in the first place an act of violence against oneself:

    “To say you intend knowingly and purposefully and on principle ‘not to listen’ is to say you are waging a sort of war on your own faculties, because listening, if you are a reasoning person, is chief among the tools you reason with….. Most of what Socrates did was listen. No longer to listen is no longer to engage in the dialogue of thought. Which disqualifies you as a scholar and a teacher, for what sort of example to his pupils is a teacher who covers truth’s ears and buries it under stone. A university that will not listen does far more intellectual damage to itself than to the university it has stopped listening to.” (Jacobson 2007)

    Anthony Julius and Alan Dershowitz (2007) make the same point in a different way:

    “…freedom of expression must incorporate freedom of address. It is not sufficient for my freedom of expression for me simply to be free to speak. What matters to me is that people should also be free to hear me. There should at least be the possibility of dialogue. Boycotts put a barrier in front of the speaker. He can speak but he is prevented from communicating. When he addresses another, that other turns away.”

    The point here is that the harm of the academic boycott begins at home. The boycott intends to harm Israeli universities and it may or may not, in the end, succeed in this aspiration. But it definitely and immediately harms the universities doing the boycotting or the universities in which the campaign for the exclusion of academic colleagues rages.

    In hosting the false claim that Israeli universities are not genuine universities and should be shunned, British universities face the danger that their own status as universities will be degraded.

  8. Anthony Randall Says:

    That argument works well against the person who wrote to Howard Jacobson, but many people are a little cleverer than that person. They do keep listening, in the hope that they will hear something positive from more Israeli academics. That in fact is how I happened upon this site, because I wanted to listen. my hope, however, has not been answered. I read the welcome to the site, then I read a couple of the threads and realised, with no joy, that they did not match up. If you believe in the boycott it’s your right, you’re not necessarily a devil or a moral criminal. Maybe you just think that what is going on is wrong. I will keep listening, but I do not think it is right to let people who are condoning what is happening believe that it doesn’t matter, that they can carry on accepting this murderous business and expect ‘hail fellow, well met’.

  9. Anthony Randall Says:

    Finally, I went off and saw the Fish article http://tinyurl.com/df66dl and was very impressed. A good result for you, he is on your side in the end. But a good result also for those of us who abhor the horrid and cheap retreat into incinuations of racism that so many of the respondents on this site employ. I don’t agree with the professor’s conclusion but I admire and respect his argument.
    I don’t think the boycott should be blanket. I don’t think there should be a ‘test’ that Israeli academics should pass. It seems right that individual academics should make up their own minds. I hope that a significant number feel as I do, and get the message across. Because we decided to do nothing last time round. Did it help? No, the slaughter goes on.

  10. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anthony Randall, I want to marginally disagree with David Hirsh and Howard Jacobson, probably to my detriment, as I admire both as eloquent communicators.

    I think that there is a significant difference in me, as an individual, deciding not to read or otherwise pay attention to a particular author or authors and my campaigning for a boycott of them, the institutions they work in and the country in which their institutions are based. I have noted more than once in these columns that, following some (in my view) rather silly comments by Naomi (“No Logo”) Klein, not having yet got round to reading her work, I would save myself time and energy by not bothering now.

    Admittedly, it’s easy enough for me: I no longer teach and therefore only I suffer. But I would never attempt to persuade others not to read her work: that has to be their decision, although I reserve the right to tell them what I’m doing and why.

    However, this is hugely different from leading an attack on academic freedom on _any_ country. As I’ve also said in these columns, again more than once, an attack on academic freedom anywhere is an an attack on it everywhere. This becomes even more true when the (attempted) attack is on _only_ one country and its institutions, and that country is hardly the worst offender against human rights anyway, although the last point is a smokescreen. (Although why people who propose a boycott want to hold Israel to higher standards than they are prepared to hold, say, the USA or Britain to [let alone all the other breachers of human rights frequently mentioned here] is beyond me.

    So, Anthony, “boycott” your neighbour, for whatever real or imagined offence they have done to you, but don’t try to persuade others to join you or seek to further damage them. You never know, your efforts (as David H. says with absolute clarity) may turn round and bite _you_.

  11. benw Says:

    Anthony, to follow up to what David said, notice what Lee Bollinger said: “If you boycott Israeli academics, you boycott
    us at Columbia.” Israeli universities do all sorts of good work in lots of areas and are at the forefront of research in many fields, e.g. medicine and computer science. International collaboration in academia is the norm today and a boycott harms everyone, not just Israel.

    Consider also that Israel is a country of extraordinarily diverse opinions, and most university professors there, just like elsewhere, are left of center in their viewpoints and more likely than others to be working to combat Israeli excesses. An academic boycott assumes that Israel is a monolithic country where everything and everyone works for the benefit of the state, where in fact the reality is completely the opposite.

    Notice also the comments from the AAUP: “We especially oppose selective academic boycotts that entail an ideological litmus test,” the AAUP declaration said. What I and I think many others here find to be among the most repugnant aspects of “boycott Israel” campaigns and similar strident anti-Israel rhetoric is the hypocrisy of focusing consistently on *only* the bad behavior of Israel while ignoring similar or much worse action on the part of other countries. For example, if you are going to call for academic and commercial boycotts against Israel and complain about “Israeli Apartheid” based on their actions in Gaza and the West Bank, why aren’t you insisting on boycotting Chinese academics and Chinese corporations for the “Chinese Apartheid” being committed in Tibet? By any objective measure, China’s actions are much worse. They are facing no armed resistance, no suicide bombings, etc., yet they have settled *millions* of ethnic Chinese in Tibet, have systematically destroyed Tibet cultural institutions, give Tibetans no autonomy whatsoever, massively discriminate against Tibetans in favor of ethnic Chinese living in Tibet, force Tibetan monks to attend indoctrination ceremonies where they are required to disavow any support for Tibetan autonomy and cultural rights, etc. etc. In the 50 years of Chinese occupation, there has been AFAIK no significant concessions whatsoever made towards Tibetan autonomy — no Oslo accords, no withdrawal of settlers, no Tibetan elections, nothing. (This is not even to mention the enormous economic and political support that China provides for Sudan, Angola, North Korea, and other truly evil regimes whose actions are orders of magnitude worse than anything Israel has ever done.) If leftist condemnation of Israel is truly based on moral considerations rather than simple bias, its condemnation of China should be much louder than its condemnation of Israel — but this is clearly not the case.

  12. Inna Says:

    “What this is about is people taking a moral position, on both sides.”

    Anthony would you feel it would be moral of me to boycott Gazan products because I consider the Hamas Government of Gaza a terrorist government and therefore decide to punish the Palestinians who live under that government? (I can for example purchase Holy Land Olive Oil–there are also fish products I can purchase… or not).

    However, would you feel it right or moral of me to boycott these Palestinian products because rockets from Gaza keep slamming into Israeli schools? Or because the Hamas Charter calls for the elimination of all Jews (including, I presume myself?) In other words, should I punish the Palestinian farmers for what their Hamas Government of Gaza is doing?

    Regards,

    Inna

  13. Saul Says:

    “I will keep listening, but I do not think it is right to let people who are condoning what is happening believe that it doesn’t matter, that they can carry on accepting this murderous business and expect ‘hail fellow, well met”.

    Does Randall know any Israeli academics (Jewish, Muslim or Christian)? and who is an official capacity “condones” what is going on?

    Does Randall really believe that Israeli academics “condone” Israel’s actions (actions that of themselves are current in many other regimes but from which follow no calls for boycott)?

    Perhaps he could point to us to where an official Israeli HE institution or Union states that it “condones” what is currently going on?

    • anthony randall Says:

      Condone: To overlook, forgive, or disregard (an offense) without protest or censure.

      • Bill Says:

        Yes, that’s what it means.. but if you look at Israeli institutions, you’d see that that answer to Saul’s questions is going to be a hearty NO for most academics. Indeed, the Israeli peace movement is strongly tied to the Israeli university culture. The boycotters response? Since it clashes with their narrative, they ignore it or, worse still, they will then say, OK, let’s require what is effectively a loyalty (to the boycotters) oath to (Jewish) faculty which is creeping towards application in the UK towards British (Jewish) academics as well, as was discussed here a few weeks back (and they call that exercising their academic freedom, which doesn’t seem to apply to anyone else).

  14. Kant Says:

    Jews have suffered enough from “morality” over the centuries, thank you very much, without its faux piety being extended to the Jewish state.

  15. Saul Says:

    How does Randall know that Israeli academics “condone” what went on in Gaza?

    Can he point to any statement from the Israeli Academics Union stating that it “condones” it?

    Can he point to any statement by an Israeli University that states it “condones” it?

    Perhaps, also, he can define what “it” is? Which leads to the next point,

    Of the hundreds of conflicts around the world, it seems that only Israel and Palestine gives rise to such moral ire.

    Why is that?

    Perhaps those, like Randall, who call for a “moral” basis boycott, can state what is exceptional about Israeli behaviour that makes it such an exceptional case that demands such exceptional responses.

    • anthony randall Says:

      Hello Saul,
      I’m going to sound like Columbo here. I didn’t mention Gaza. It is intriguing that you brought it up.

      As for ‘it’. ‘It’ is this murderous business.

      I think the important thing you say is ‘why have a go at Israel?’, when in the scale of evil things that men do to each other there sadly isn’t much that is exceptional about the Israeli case. But this is not a competition of scale (and I thought it was good to read what Fish says about this part of your argument, he is lucid and logical).

      There are other ways of explaining why, to some, Israel’s occupation and conduct is especially important.

      One is that Israel is overwhelmingly the dominant actor in a conflict believed by many across the international spectrum to be the most significant on the planet, a signifier of a larger battle betwen the West and the Muslim world. Wrong or right, that’s how many people see it. That’s why so many of us care so much about it. We think our children’s lives are at stake.

      So when Israel’s government launches its strategic, lethal campaigns of military domination and social engineering against Muslims, those who feel they are using their unrivalled power to make a bad situation worse, while dragging the West down into calamitous disrepute alongside them, are bound to listen out for voices of dissent from within.

      But what do we hear from the academics – the most identifiable bright thinkers in Israeli society? How many of them are sufficiently moved to remonstrate with their government over what is being done in their name? I found this in this site’s archive, http://tinyurl.com/cya9bb .

      Last year four Israeli academics individually emailed 8500 colleagues in the country inviting them to protest against Israeli government policies on freedom of Palestinians to study which were leading to the ‘ongoing deterioration of the system of higher education in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip’.

      ‘What academic wouldn’t support that?’ you might say. In the event, 8000 academics didn’t support that, 409 did. The leaders even got hate mail. Imagine that. And it was hardly a call to pull out of the territories.

      So what are the rest of us supposed to think about the 8000 who declined? ‘Oh that’s all right, we can still meet up and swap stories about wacky research briefs and the irritating bureaucracy in our faculties, not mention the war and pretend that we don’t have to have a conscience because – we’re academics!’

      No.
      Many, many, many of those who do not protest will be good men and women. It would be sad if some advancements and knowledge were lost for a few years amid a boycott, of course it would. But weigh it against what is lost if, to paraphrase Burke, those good men and women continue to do nothing.

      • Mira Vogel Says:

        Anthony, “So what are the rest of us supposed to think about the 8000 who declined?”

        There are lots of reasons not to sign a petition. One of them might be that you are worried it will appease academic boycotters. Boycotters claimed that petition, you know. I alerted one of its authors that it had been promoted on the Boycott Israeli Goods site. They were grateful and hurried to get it taken off because they knew that it would alienate and pressurise some potential signatories. And they wouldn’t let Engage promote it either. Eventually when the petition came out, we drew attention to it.

        So, we should maintain an open mind about the people who didn’t sign. We have absolutely no business supposing that they do nothing.

        • anthony randall Says:

          Mira, I’m sorry, but in this case we do – that is, if the account of the petition organisers is correct.

          They laboriously sent individual emails to all those academics – imagine how long that must have taken – and they attached the petition to the email! No one had to go to any site to find it, it was in their inbox. No pressure groups were there giving it the hard sell, it was sent to people directly with no intermediaries involved. All people saw was a message from four fellow academics. All they had to do was click reply, type their name and click ‘send’.

          Except that they didn’t.

          A phenomenal 95% didn’t, quite literally, lift a finger.

          But it does mean that 5% of the Israeli academic population contacted by the petition’s organisers did protest. And that is a start.

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          I don’t believe for a minute you think that signing a petition is the extent of lifting a finger.

          Petitions are about nailing your colours to a mast for other people to see. The organisers say themselves that petitions almost never change political circumstances, and that the petition was mired in rumour about the motivations of its authors.

          It’s just unfounded to deduce that 95% are “good men and women who do nothing”.

          I mean, what are you doing, Anthony? You are responsible for Palestinians. You fix it. Go and fix Hamas and Hesbollah, so that Israel can open its borders. See what I mean?

        • Bill Says:

          And honestly, among all the invitations to participate in “Business Opportunities” from Nigeria, along with the countless NSF, NASA, DOE and such RFPs that come across every day, V-!-@-G-R-@ spams, not to mention people offering up an extra desk that they put in the hallway, and people leaving their lights on, invitations to seminars on how to use a Tablet PC, invitations to seminars where I actually may learn something useful, the Missus asking me to pick up the little one, the meeting we’re going to have five minutes ago, I’m amazed that I even notice important time-sensitive emails, let alone calls to sign petitions.

          But in all seriousness, Email blegs for petitions are just not effective no matter how many faculty mailboxes you spam. Getting responses from on-campus surveys relevant to the university mission, even from VP, Deans and Provosts can be called a resounding and incredible success if they get a 25% response. Similarly, experiments with non-in-class student opinion surveys have similar failures in large class sections, so much so that people have a dumber idea that includes a “raffle” for those who participate. If that’s as good as it gets when it’s immediately job-relate you should be happy to get 5% for an I-care petition, no matter now serious the issue.

  16. Alex Says:

    Back to the original topic of what Sally Hunt should do, here is what she is actually doing:

    http://www.altg20.org.uk/

    The usual suspects given a nice little platform at UCU’s expense. Is a prerequisite for speaking there that you must have publicly evoked antisemitic imagery or over-the-top rhetoric when criticising Israel and then used the standard mantra? Do I really keep paying my subs for this?

  17. Bill Says:

    Heres some other reasons (some of them more practical than moral, I admit, but important none-the-less) to opposing the bocyott. If professor X wants to not read any journal articles, no matter how cutting edge and relevant to his field from Israel, as Jacobson says, he’s doing damage to his own career and professional development. That’s his problem.

    And similarly no one, administrator, chair, head, director, or colleague, should hold a gun to someone’s head and say, “you’ll collaborate with that fellow from Israel.” Likewise, we’re all likely to be too busy to accept every invitation to collaborate that rolls across our email. So, I’ll go against some of the grain here, to say that just saying NO to working with Israelis and leaving it at that is likely well within the rights of any faculty member or investigator. Quiet boycotts-of-one happen and unless we mind meld with everyone on a campus, you’re not going to stop it. And once again, they’re only hurting themselves.

    The problem is that they don’t want boycotts-of-one. And they want to be smugly self-righteous about it, and then they want the union, which is hardly monolithic on this issue, to support it. The “bocyotteers” want to single out one group and one only by national origin and when pressed, they start edging into religious affiliation. In the UK that violates the RRA, and other countries have similar legal anti-discrimination constructs. That puts not the union in jeopardy but the university that houses the bocyotter. And, in turn, that puts the union at odds with the institution more so than it already is. For an issue that is NOT related to local scholarship, teaching and service, that’s not good to say the least. More still: the university (not the union) is going to loose any legal battle that emerges for it or otherwise have to settle out of court. Which means that someone is going to pay. In the US system (can’t speak for the UK) such spoils can too often come out accounts (including faculty discretionary accounts) that did NOT contribute to the initial offense. And that produces an incredible amount of ill will on campus when it just happens to balance a budget during times of monetary shortfall (let alone to cover a punitive payoff). And this time it will be rightfully directed from the faculty to, in this case, the bocyott-supporting union. Once again. Not good.

    On the boycott-of-one-to-boycott-for-all, also consider that in the british faculty union’s movement to push for the boycott has used a number of dirty tricks that don’t befit an academic union. Dissent is censored, whistleblowers who point out clear antisemitism are blacklisted and so on (two great examples are the black listing of unimpeachable unionist David Hirsch from the activist list — and on the same list, the appalling acceptance of a post from DavidDuke.Com that no reasonable person would accept, their response, close ranks and retaliate against people who brought that information forward to the larger community. Acceptable? Uh. no.

    Add to that the sneaking suspicion I have that if this movement gets traction, they’re not going to stop at Israel (but won’t go near China, Russia, the Sudan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela or other authoritarian regimes, especially those for whom the clique in question have some kind of “affection”). Once emboldened, I have no doubt they’ll try to make more of their policies, the shadow policy of their institutions. Campus small-p politics are already enough of a pain to navigate to include more Capital-P Politics, don’cha’think?

    So as David indicates in his moral arguments (as wells as the others here after him), the boycotters are acting against not only their unions’, colleagues’ and institutions’ interests they are aggressively and maliciously acting against academic freedom and contributing to a very toxic atmosphere. And for some time they’ve wanted to share that vision with us across the pond. No thanks, I’ll pass!

  18. 701 Says:

    “UCU’s UEL branch is hosting an alternative G20 summit at the University of East London’s Docklands Campus on 1 April starting at 4pm until 9pm. I will be there alongside speakers such as Tony Benn (Jews control the BBC) Caroline Lucas, (You can’t say a word without being labelled antixemitic) Tariq Ali, Samia al-Botmeh, Ken Loach (I understand antisemitism – it is the Jews’ fault), Paul Mason and Ken Livingstone (I was only criticising Israel).”

    But Jews welcome!!

  19. Bill Says:

    “But Jews welcome!!”

    And if they bring rope (for the meeting’s participants to hang them with), they get 50% off admission. Chris’ll be serving coffee.

  20. Alan Says:

    Well, 701, the 1st of April sure is the right day for it.

  21. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I have a not-so-sneaking suspicionm that most (if not all) university administrations would hang boycotters out to dry (leaving ’em twisting gently in the breeze from a _high_ branch – they’re not liberals) at the first whiff of a court summons for breach of the RRA. And might use it to rapidly derecognise the union, too.

  22. Inna Says:

    Anthony–

    Let us suppose that all your arguments re: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being at the root of the conflict between the East and West are correct, etc. If this is the case, there are still issues to be worked out regarding the boycott:

    1) Why you would not want to punish the other party in this conflict–e.g, Hamas. If your children” lives are really at stake here you want to make sure that no-one can hurt them, and as a conflict is never one-sided you have to punish both parties equally. In other words, if you feel that it is a moral imperative to stop the conflict And that a boycott is an effective way of doing so, then you should be boycotting Palestinian goods such as olives, olive oils, books, fish products, etc. to the same extent as you are boycotting Israeli goods.

    2) But there is the question of whether a boycott does, indeed, work. Has any member or leader of any anti-Israel boycott movement ever declared success? I am genuinely curious because I have never heard a leader of the boycott movement say we have boycotted Israel because of policy Y and now it is X, we won.

    3) And of course there is a reason for that. Because you are not actually targeting Israel or even the Israeli government. You are targeting; you are Punishing individuals. Individuals, I might add, whose support you need if your intent really is to change Israeli Government’s policy. So here’s how your boycott is playing out on the ground. You stop buying some Israeli goods. Demand for those goods falls. Some plants in Israel that made those goods or publishing houses that published those books, etc. are forced to close and people are laid off. Some of those people were Labor and Kadima supporters who back in 2005 were assured by the their government that pulling out of Gaza would be good for Israel’s image, economy and obviate the boycotts and save their jobs. Well, that didn’t work (obviously) because look: here’s a boycott, they’re out of work, Israel is given no credit for pulling out of Gaza and rockets are falling on Sderdot and Ashkelon and beyond daily. So, why not vote for Netanyahu or someone even more conservative? So, maybe the boycott is changing Israeli policy–just not in the direction you might want.

    4) And then there is another effect. A movement that demonizes Israel–I am not saying that is what you do but many boycotters do indeed do this–the boycott movement also creates a very difficult atmosphere for Jews in your own community. An atmosphere in which many leading figures are (increasingly) finding anti-Semitism (racism against Jews) “understandable”. An atmosphere in which violence against Jewish persons and identifiably Jewish places of congregation has become common-place.

    I am therefore suggesting that an anti-Israeli boycott is morally inconsistent, that if it has any impact on Israeli policy at all (which is doubtful) that effect is in the opposite direction than what you are aiming for, and that it contributes to an already terrible atmosphere for Jews who live next door to you.

    Because a boycott does not punish a government; it punishes individuals.

    Regards,

    Inna

  23. Alex Says:

    Inna –

    I think you’ve got the idea pretty right, but you’ve missed the formulation. It goes something along the lines of:

    “What choice do they have? They’re constantly demonised by world opinion and major media organisations? What choice do they have but to vote for Yisrael Beiteinu? Particularly after they tried voting for peaceful moderate left-wingers like Sharon.”

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      You need a lot of faith and vision to vote for actual peaceful moderate left-wingers in Israel today – and in the OPTs. Building or sustaining that vision is the job of anybody who wants peace.

  24. Another Observer Says:

    “a signifier of a larger battle betwen the West and the Muslim world. Wrong or right, that’s how many people see it. That’s why so many of us care so much about it. We think our children’s lives are at stake.”

    “So when Israel’s government launches its strategic, lethal campaigns of military domination and social engineering against Muslims’.

    Left and critical thinking demands of us that we get beyond appearances, that we do not accept the superficial view of things.

    Instead, you fall back on some eschatological nonsense about Israel waging a war against Muslims; and Israel becomes the standard bearer for something you call “the West”.

    The conflict in Israel and Palestine is mired in enough mythology; it is a pity that you base your call “criticisms” in the realm of fantasy.

    In this context it is telling that you did not mention Gaza. It is completely in keeping with your eschatological view of the conflict that specific incidents do not matter – again a sign of the paucity of thought.

  25. SaulM Says:

    well, well, well…………

    Israel a symbol of the “clash of civilization”

    But do make up your mind,

    At one point you claim that Israel is a or the symbol of a crusade against Muslims;

    and then you say,

    Israel is “dragging the West down”.

    Mind you, contradictions are nothing new in within the imaginary realm of epochal conflicts – this time between Muslims, the West and rogue Zionists.

  26. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anthony Randall “Brian, you enjoyed that little reverie, didn’t you? Nothing like a good lynching!

    Strange fruit hanging from the Engage tree.”

    Bill says it all: “Didn’t one UK university do this already?”

    Yes they did: Nottingham University. Are we living in the same universe, Anthony? You’re clearly no trade union politician, if you believe that your employer wouldn’t take an opportunity to derecognise your union, especially if _not_ doing so and being sued under the RRA might result in severe financial penalties, adverse publicity, and all to satisfy some UCU activists’ political dreams of boycotting Israeli universities. Your employer would hang your union (and the members therein) out to dry, as I said.

    Now, where in my comment do I say that this is a good thing, that I would welcome it, that I hope for it? I don’t, and an apology for traducing me would be good here. The apology should also acknowledge that you have insulted me and made an ad hominem attack on me.

    As it so happens, you are clearly new here, because I have said on these comments threads from the start that this is the risk that AUT, Natfhe faced and now UCU faces, and I clearly stated that I wouldn’t welcome such an outcome. I was a branch officer for over a decade, so I’ve paid my dues. Have you?

    I await your apology, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Anthony Says:

      Bryan, Bryan, no need to fight. It amused me, honestly. It was the way you described the scene: ‘leaving ’em twisting gently in the breeze, from a high branch’. I always tell my writing students, ‘imagine it in your head, find the words to paint a picture’, and you did just that, beautifully, and I could imagine you putting the words together, adding that last little kicker – from a high branch – to really get the point across. It just made me smile. That emotional reverie of writing you went through in the middle of all this to and fro.

      Anyway, ease up, it wasn’t an attack on you per se, I don’t even know you. I don’t even know what traduce means. I can’t imagine that a union branch officer is the kind of guy who would go round wanting to hang people, and I’m sorry if you think I do. Though I must admit that across five years as Father of the Chapel at my newspaper I was sometimes tempted to punch people in the beezer. Now, see what I did there? Managed to get a sort of softening ‘sorry’ in whilst trying not to give up any man ground, then tried to answer your bareknuckle challenge to my union chops by slipping in the macho incinuation that ‘I’ve led a strike or two in my time too, matey’.

      It’s pathetic isn’t it, the way men go on.

        • Bill Says:

          Meow, Mira. Does this mean that I can dress up as Zorro now? (Note, btw, how nice we’ve been on this thread.)

        • Anthony Says:

          Mira, I know we kinda got off on the wrong foot here but, uhh, maybe we could discuss it over coffee?

          Only joking only joking only joking!! Honest. I don’t want to discuss it over coffee, I was just trying to amuse you by playing to a type. Look, I had a look at some of the other stuff you’ve been writing. This isn’t about doubting people’s sincerity and I can see much of where you are coming from in the interviews you write up and the questions you pose. The thing is, no one has a monopoly on sincerity, brains or the truth, but what happens on these forums is that instead of being open discussions they so quickly turn into reinforcement zones, so much so that if someone comes in whistling and says hey, what’s going on here, he can walk out again 20 minutes later with two black eyes, his clothes ripped off and a couple of loose teeth.

          So don’t worry, I shan’t be back to bother you all. But I’ve got a feeling that if I’d met you in person we would have said the same things but parted agreeing to differ.

          All the best

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          Maybe.

          “so much so that if someone comes in whistling and says hey, what’s going on here, he can walk out again 20 minutes later with two black eyes, his clothes ripped off and a couple of loose teeth.”

          I do worry about that. Discussion boards are a terrible medium for this kind of thing. Maybe we should additionally enable video for talking heads.

          Hopefully our vivacious, passionate and dedicated commenters will remain even after I put up the comments policy i’m working on, next week.

      • Jonathan Romer Says:

        Some men, Anthony.

  27. Anthony Says:

    Hello Inna,

    On 1) If there are Palestinian academics who are not speaking out against the random shelling of Israeli settlements then, equally, I’d not welcome them to my faculty or wish to share a chat and a slap on the back with them. I think they should be made aware that averting their eyes to viciousness is not seen as a reasonable moral stance by very many people.

    On 2) I can’t see how a boycott of academics is going to have the direct effect of leading the Israeli government to say ‘we can’t take this kind of pressure from all those UCU people in Britain, we’ll have to reverse our policy against the Muslims’.

    But I can see that if a censorious international attitude prompts Israeli academics to question whether they are doing their best for their country and the young people they teach by not boldly encouraging rigorous and genuine inquiry into the social, political, economic and cultural drivers and outcomes of their government’s policy, then Israeli academia will have more chance of doing what academia is supposed to do, promote understanding, and in turn, hope.

    3) I’m not arguing for an economic boycott here. I’m arguing for a way of trying to get the people whose job it is to help a nation to think to think just a little harder themselves. So maybe there would be a few less conference invites, and maybe when the academic does go overseas he or she might feel some unease concerning what people may be thinking about them. But there is no physical or economic punishment involved. Even so, I understand the point of your argument, people don’t like being told off. Yet if a professor at Haifa says to himself, ‘well, I could register concern, and I could look at new approaches to solving intractable old problems, but I’m not going to because those UCU activists are making me mad, so there,’ then perhaps we should all review our interviewing procedures for professorial candidates.

    As for 4, I have read other threads here and recognise that in terms of the genesis of the site which is enabling us to have this discussion, this is a slippery slope to go down. And I’m not going to. What I should say is that in the several responses made to me no-one has hauled out the big AS card, and I’m grateful for that. In fact, though I imagine I have not changed people’s positions, I get the impression that we’ve learned a few things. I certainly have. A small triumph for discourse.

    • Alex Says:

      No one has played the AS card because you haven’t crossed the line (although you do get close by suggesting that we would automatically as a sign of bad faith…)

    • Inna Says:

      Anthony:

      “If there are Palestinian academics who are not speaking out against the random shelling of Israeli settlements then, equally, I’d not welcome them to my faculty or wish to share a chat and a slap on the back with them. I think they should be made aware that averting their eyes to viciousness is not seen as a reasonable moral stance by very many people.”

      To the best of my knowledge only one Palestinian academic has in fact spoken out against the terror committed by Hamas. So are you saying you are in favor of an almost complete boycott of Palestinian academics? (Incidentally, that one academic is also against an anti-Israeli boycott.)

      “But I can see that if a censorious international attitude prompts Israeli academics to question whether they are doing their best for their country..”

      Can you? I first became aware of a movement to boycott Israeli academics and goods in 1989. Please name the successes the leaders of that movement claim to have achieved.

      “I’m arguing for a way of trying to get the people whose job it is to help a nation to think to think just a little harder themselves.”

      So if in response to a boycott of Israeli academics British academics are boycotted, it stands to reason that the British academics will stop their boycott? I ask because this is not a hypothetical question–it is happening in American academia. It is not a formal boycott movement by any means but if there is an international conference being held and the question is do we invite a British expert who may be complicit in the boycott or (say) a Canadian one, increasingly the Canadian gets picked.

      “What I should say is that in the several responses made to me no-one has hauled out the big AS card”

      No “card” is being hauled out here. I am trying to explain that although a boycott of Israeli individuals has no effect on Israeli policy (except arguably in the opposite direction) by contributing to an already toxic atmosphere it may well be having an immediate impact on the people in your community.

      Regards,

      Inna

  28. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anthony “I’m not arguing for an economic boycott here.” No, but you _are_ arguing for an _academic_ one. Your rationale appears to be that this might just get an academic (“whose job it is to help a nation to think to think just a little harder themselves”) to reconsider (or consider for the first time) about what their nation is doing.

    Let’s leave aside for the moment what it is that “their nation” is doing and even what the academics’ own stance on this is. Let’s play a little game of Weberian “verstehen” (taking the role of the other): you are an academic who has been published in peer-related journals, possibly even in internationally respected ones. Then your application to deliver a paper (on your special scientific subject area) is rejected, along with your application to attend the conference – again and again, and in one country only.

    How do you react? Do you offer a (dis)loyalty oath, so that your application will be reconsidered? Do you apologise for your country’s policies? Or do you say something rude to the country boycotting you? Maybe even, as has been suggested, vote next time _not_ for the peace-seeking left-wing party of your natural choice, but for one that similarly says something rude to your boycotters?

    Perhaps you make sure that your invention (a new medical treatment, perhaps, or an advance in electronics) can’t be used in the country that is boycotting you, which is within your power if any patents are held by you personally, but you do make sure that other countries, which don’t disinvite you, can and do share the fruits of your intellectual labours.

    What makes you think the academic will just roll over and do _your_ bidding?

    Note that I have made no reference to the breaching of academic freedom involved in boycotts, nor have I commented on the presumed policies of the to be boycotted country. But we all know that we’re talking about Israel and not Russia, China, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, the US or the UK. Not least because we know that the governments of those countries would take not the slightest notice (or in the two last cases, sue the universities doing the boycotting). We also all know that Israel is the target for the reasons stated by Tom Hickey in his infamous essay in the British Medical Journal of 20 July 2007 (link elsewhere in these pages).

    And finally, it’s only the English & Welsh higher education union that is seriously pursuing this policy. You need only re-read the article to which this comments thread is attached to see what the attitude of even more influential academic unions elsewhere think of this idea.

    Or don’t you accept that academic freedom is indivisible? If not, why aren’t you calling for boycotts of all those countries’ universitieis which are even worse breachers of human rights than Israel?

  29. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I can see that if a censorious international attitude prompts Israeli academics to question whether they are doing their best for their country and the young people they teach by not boldly encouraging rigorous and genuine inquiry into the social, political, economic and cultural drivers and outcomes of their government’s policy, then Israeli academia will have more chance of doing what academia is supposed to do, promote understanding, and in turn, hope.”

    Again, the question arises, why should only Israeli academics be given this task? (Indeed, the nonsense about a “clash of civilisation” would appear to make it incumbant on all of “the West’s” academics to spend their time entering into a critique of the nature of their own states)

    Of course, the demand (at the pain of punishment; in this case exclusion) that academics leave their own field of research to speak in a political voice is the hallmark of totalitrian regimes. After all, why should a maths professor’s views on Israel and Palestine be of any more value than that of the campus creche worker or vice-versa. (Unless, of course, Randall still holds to the romantic view that after 200 years of specialisation, academics are still the carriers of universal wisdom.)

    Again, Randall’s comments keep an unhealthy distance from reality and from the messiness that makes up that reality.

    “What I should say is that in the several responses made to me no-one has hauled out the big AS card, and I’m grateful for that……..I get the impression that we’ve learned a few things”.

    Why be grateful? A far better “lesson” would be for you to reflect on the malicious idea that “Zionists” “haul out the AS card” and see it for what it is – a libel.

    So, if we take Randall’s idea as a whole what do we have?

    Israel is a symbol of “the West’s” crusade against Muslims.

    A demand that all Israeli academics should focus on one question and one question only, and to ensure one answer and one answer only (since the wrong answer would bring exclusion down upon them).

    Most, of not all, discussions of Israel are met with accusations of antisemitism.

    Politeness may be a more pleasant mode of discussion, but, with the upmost respect, bullshit is still just bullshit however it is wrapped up.

  30. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anthony, if you don’t know what “traduce” means, then look it up before coming over all faux apologetic – shucks, using all those long words to me, a mere former father of the chapel sort of regular guy. If you think that the posting I responded to was a joke, then you need to think _very_ carefully before you put fingers to keyboard next time.

    • Anthony Says:

      It’s because I’m black Bryan, out of the dark continent by way of Houston. I always get a little het up and feverish when people start talking about ropes and trees. You weren’t to know that, and I wasn’t to know that you were going to take me literally when I said that your image of a hanging man was lovingly depicted. If I’d know I wouldn’t have written it, so I’m sorry.

      And by the way, miles and miles ago on this thread I wrote:

      ‘I don’t think the boycott should be blanket. I don’t think there should be a ‘test’ that Israeli academics should pass. It seems right that individual academics should make up their own minds.’

      Everyone’s ignored that. Why does that happen?

      • Bill Says:

        Sorry Anthony,

        As someone who was raised in a diverse community, and also raised in the south (NC), and is sensitive to internalized racism (including antisemitism), and has the full suite of “diversity” and federal harassment/discrimination training, I gotta tell you that the use of hanging is not a “red flag word” in a UK-run discussion board. And playing that card isn’t, as they’d say, “cricket” or even valid.

        As for the blanket, while you don’t believe it, the boycotters that have been the object of discussion here for so long have, trust me on this! We weren’t ignoring you. We were paying attention to what the UCUs’ are doing, have been doing and likely are going to continue to do, very likely even after a few of them have been “hung”, “hoisted on their own petard”, had lawyers all over them “like white on rice” (brown on rice in Boulder), and a whole host of colourful metaphors.

        And as Brian indicated, indeed, what he had said has already happened at Nottingham (even if it was done as a “pretense” so as not to deal with the union), similarly for Pete’s Sake a boycotter posted to David-Freaking-Duke.COM (with big graphical and text side bar links that even a “sheltered European” would know were racist to high heaven), look at the archives here and definitely go to HurryUpHarry.org under “Jenna Delich” where they covered it in gory detail (since the UCU tried to take the site down after the whistleblowing!). Similarly someone in their parliament (I forgot about this) was trying something I think with blanket legislation to provide amo for universities to decline collective bargaining with the UCU). Believe me, this isn’t a “free speech” thing, this has the potential for doing serious damage to the UCU’s ability to negotiate, and their environment between union and university is much more antagonistic both-ways than our system.

        So yeah, they are now being hung by the very rope they brought to the necktie party.

        • Bill Says:

          sorry, the boycott supporter *linked* (not posted) an article posted on DD.Com to the UCU Activist Listserve(the same listserve that had banned David Hirsh). My bad (and most definitely her bad as well as the “bad” of the UCU “Activist List,” who were caught with their pants down with that rotten episode).

          And that rope by the way that the boycotters have brought to the party? The UCU members bought that rope with their dues. Just another mixed metaphor to add to the pile.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        At least spell my name right: it’s at the head of any reply I submiot. And thank you for your apology, which is gratefully accepted. Reading my other comments you’ll see that I don’t often take offence, generally only when I think I’m I’m being insulted rather than my ideas and arguments attacked. The latter I can take: it’s what this site is all about.

        But I still stand by the other comments I’ve made, including the long one timed at 12.39 today. If I and others are misreading you, then you need to examine carefully how you are expressing yourself: you are coming across as a “let’s boycott Israeli universities” supporter. If you aren’t, but are exploring other options, what are they? If you are supporting an academic boycott, why? Beyond the idea that it might concentrate the minds of those boycotted – which many of suggest won’t be the outcome of a boycott – that is.

  31. Saul Says:

    On 2) I can’t see how a boycott of academics is going to have the direct effect of leading the Israeli government to say ‘we can’t take this kind of pressure from all those UCU people in Britain, we’ll have to reverse our policy against the Muslims’.

    What is Randall talking about, “reverse our policy against the Muslims”??

    Not only does it exhibit a lack of understanding of what is going on in that (rather tiny) part of the world, but is amplifying into a “battle” of fantastical proportions that normally appears only in the fevered imaginations of the more messianic elements of the far-right.

    How silly.

  32. Anthony Says:

    Guys, and girls, I thought I was doing ok, but I was wrong. OK, forget the arguments I made, they were of no use to you because they disagreed with you. Forget the idea of discourse, of weighing opinions, of trying to understand someone else’s point of view. Stay where you are, refuse to move, castigate all critics equally. Refuse to listen. Resort to vituperation, demean and diminish. Comfort yourselves that no one else knows what it’s like. Throw in a few more insults to finish the job, then high five yourselves and say, ‘yeah, whipped his ass, didn’t we? Bring on the next guy, we’ll do the same to him.’

    Forever and ever.

    It’s a crying shame.

    There are better places to be.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Please see my comment attached to your apology to me (assuming the moderator lets that one and this through). I don’t think we’re merely insulting you to drive you away.

      You are giving the impression that, at the least, you support an academic boycott. If you don’t, please explain yourself more clearly. If you merely repeat what you have already said, we, collectively, will just keep requesting evidence and argument based on that evidence.

      If we’re wrong in our interpretations, why are we wrong?

  33. Efraim Says:

    “So, if we take Randall’s idea as a whole what do we have?

    Israel is a symbol of “the West’s” crusade against Muslims.”

    Assuming Samuel Huntington’s thesis about a clash of civilizations is correct, and that’s a big assumption, Israel in that Professor’s book is seen as a unique civilization which he had trouble identifying with either camp.

    Moreover, Anthony’s view of Israel as a “symbol of “the West’s” crusade against Muslims” is nonsense. Israel is a symbol of the Christian world’s as well as Islam’s longstanding war against the Jews which almost wiped them out in Europe and relegated them to a “protected” people without equality in Islamic societies.

    That the West is friendly to Israel, and this is liable to change, as Anthony who is openly campaigning for such a change know very well, has as much to do with its desire to make amends for its treatment of Jews a generation or so ago and hence preserve its liberal culture as is does for reason of strategy. That Muslim countries don’t see a need to make any amends for past treatment of Jews is a sign of its illiberal culture.

  34. Sabato Says:

    “Forget the idea of discourse, of weighing opinions, of trying to understand someone else’s point of view. Stay where you are, refuse to move, castigate all critics equally. Refuse to listen. Resort to vituperation, demean and diminish.”

    Your parting shot is typical of self righteous people who refuse to listen and blame others for not listening to them.

  35. Saul Says:

    Oh spare me the martydom crap!

    You made some points.

    People disagreed with them.

    People asked you about them.

    People asked you to clarify your points.

    Some you answered which led to other questions and calls for clarification.

    Some you refused to answer.

    I and others pointed out to the mythological aspects of your “opinion” and asked for clarification.

    You refused to answer.

    I pointed to contradictions within your “opinion”.

    You did not answer.

    Judging from your last (final?) post and your frustration that many posters were not overly impressed with your arguments, one can see why you support the idea of a boycott.

    That way, you don’t even have to worry about listening to those who disagree with you, let alone responding to them.

    “OK, forget the arguments I made, they were of no use to you because they disagreed with you.”

    Actually, people disgreed with thembecause most of them were nonsense – in the literal sense of making no sense at all.

    But, off you go and play the victim; it is so much easier that way.

    • Anthony Says:

      Saul,
      It was interesting to hear your points of view and the way your arguments are formulated, it was instructive. I won’t rehash what I’ve said about the Chinese Whispers nature of these threads but perhaps the twists and turns which one’s words are taken through may have contributed to your confusion about my arguments. To a small extent.

  36. Absolute Observer Says:

    Anthony Randall,

    Oh, please don’t go.

    I know what, how about you discuss these points below? To be honest, they are rather weak as they stand.
    How about you spell them out for us in more detail; you know, really make the case for them so that “we” can “weight” them up?

    “Israel is a symbol of “the West’s” crusade against Muslims (but as someelse noted, also drags the West down).
    (To which one can add Obsrver’s point – “Again, the question arises, why should only Israeli academics be given this task? (Indeed, the nonsense about a “clash of civilisation” would appear to make it incumbant on all of “the West’s” academics to spend their time entering into a critique of the nature of their own states)”

    A demand that all Israeli academics should focus on one question and one question only, and to ensure one answer and one answer only (since the wrong answer would bring exclusion down upon them).

    Most, of not all, discussions of Israel are met with accusations of antisemitism.”

  37. Saul Says:

    “has as much to do with its desire to make amends for its treatment of Jews a generation or so ago.”

    If only the world did operate like that!!

    Such a view ignores Jewish opposition to the then colonial power/mandate; the US’ initial hesitation to recognise Israel; etc. and so forth.

    The world is not making “amends” to the Jews; it is merely following what it sees as its interests.

    If “amends” were the case, African nations would not be the bottom of the heap after two centuries of imperial exploitation. And, Israel would be the most powerful nation of earth.

  38. Anthony Says:

    One of you talks about me mythologising, misquotes me, and from that point on everybody on the thread takes the misquote as gospel that I said I’d worked out that the end of the world is nigh with Israel fighting Muslims.

    What I actually said (or go up and see for yourself if you don’t believe me) was that this is a conflict:
    believed by many across the international spectrum to be the most significant on the planet, a signifier of a larger battle betwen the West and the Muslim world. Wrong or right, that’s how many people see it.

    There was a time when we burned witches. There are no witches, but that’s the way enough people saw it, and so they cheerfully set light to perfectly innocent (at least of turning people into frogs) women anyway.

    And I don’t know if the Israel/occupied territories struggle in itself is the most important on the planet or not, but many people, from dispossessed nihilistic angry peasants to angry clerics to oil rich potentates and businessmen, seem to believe it is, and they believe that a totally dominant force is using its power to grind a boot into the neck of Palestinians. So when people see that actually happening, and hurrah, I will mention Gaza now, their prejudices, right or wrong (remember that bit if you should try to misquote me again) are reinforced.

    That is what matters. Perception.

    There has to be a better way of dealing with this, and it won’t come if the people who are paid to do the thinking spend their time thinking about something else. I know Mira valiantly defended the non responders to the academic freedom petition (above) but come on guys, 7500 academics out of 8000 refusing to put their name to a protest against unfair treatment of academics and students in the territories? Come on! There’s no spin that deals with that one.

    Maybe it is true what several of you have intimated, maybe many many academics in Israel are going for it, firing in letters of complant, marching in the streets, holding fund raisers in support of their OPT colleagues, meeting in coffee shops to plan how to best mount a peaceful, effective resistance to what they see as a mishandling of the situation by the government.

    Well if it’s true why not tell us about it! Tell the world about it! You don’t need to put people’s names in, just tell us what’s going on. Show us the pictures, blank out the faces so that no one can be identified if that is a problem for you. If the academics are out there doing that stuff then within a fortnight any talk of a boycott will be history, this site will have to close down for the best of all possible reasons, because there is no boycott of Israeli academics because Israeli academics are taking their government to task.

    And doing something.

    • Alex Says:

      Anthony,

      “This is what matters. Perception.”

      Not facts? Or truth? So every blood libel that gets published in a media that too often veers from sensationalist to anti-Israel is what matters?

      So when Palestinian figures on a death toll are automatically accepted and broadly published (see Jenin) – that is perception, so that is what matters?

      So when the UN in Gaza repeats every accusation about Israel attacking their schools (even if they do quietly retract later), that is perception, that is what matters?

      While we’re at it, when the media publishes every scare related to MMR injection, but never follows up with the story that the scare is unfounded, that is perception, that is what matters?

      If there was a diligent, unbiased, accurate, competent media that behaved according to the highest journalistic ethics, I may be inclined to let that slide. But there ain’t.

      And I do like your optimism that the boycotts can be countered with facts. But they can’t – it is ideology, not a rational response. (See Inna’s discussion earlier regarding the *actual* effect of a boycott.) The boycott is a stick to beat Israel with, while letting people feel good about themselves that they are showing “solidarity” with the “poor, struggling victims of the colonialist imperialist empire”.

  39. Duncan Bryson Says:

    I disagreed with Anthony’s arguments, but I think the responses he recieved carried the wrong tone. What matters is not that anyone feels they proved that they were right and he was wrong, but that he may leave the encounter questioning some of his current beliefs. I don’t think that is the case in this instant. I am sure Anthony is motivated by high ideals, maybe anti racist beliefs that lead him to want to do something about the racist treatment of Palestinians. Perhaps responses that emphasise those shared anti racist beliefs, that stress commonality and understanding may have been more productive. in persuading him he was going about things the wrong way.

  40. Jacob Says:

    “And I don’t know if the Israel/occupied territories struggle in itself is the most important on the planet or not, but many people, from dispossessed nihilistic angry peasants to angry clerics to oil rich potentates and businessmen, seem to believe it is, and they believe that a totally dominant force is using its power to grind a boot into the neck of Palestinians. So when people see that actually happening, and hurrah, I will mention Gaza now, their prejudices, right or wrong (remember that bit if you should try to misquote me again) are reinforced.

    That is what matters. Perception.”

    Anthony, your witches’ hysteria analogy is appropriate, however, I prefer not to give in to the retrograde politics issuing from these perceptions.

    You also forget that at the same time as people were burning witches they were putting Jews in Ghettoes in the West. (Yes the ghetto system was a Renaissance and not a medieval phenomenon.) Moreover, Jews have been at the receiving end of negative perceptions for most of our existence and the last time this happened in the 30’s resulted in their near annihilations. (In the 30’s Jews were also presented as oppressors (either racially or economically depending on people’s political persuasions at that time).

    Why you expect people here to agree with you that they should give in to their bigoted and resentful perceptions rather than to fight them is beyond me. This is not what “progressives” are supposed to do.

  41. Efraim Says:

    “Such a view ignores Jewish opposition to the then colonial power/mandate; the US’ initial hesitation to recognise Israel; etc. and so forth.” Saul

    Maybe, Saul, but at what point was the land where Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Israel occupy was not under colonial or imperial mandate?

    Under Turkish rule? Under Arab Muslim rule? Under Byzantium or earlier Rome? These too were imperial powers who had conquered the land. It seems that at no point in history, until after WW2, was there a time when that strip of land was under Imperial domination.

  42. Duncan Bryson Says:

    OK Anthony, I am going to comment on what you just said. After my previous post I hope you will take this as genuine criticism (in the positive sense of the word) of your arguments and not an attack on you.

    Firstly you are right, many, many people see the Israel / Palestine issue as being at the core of world conflict between Islam and ‘judeo-christianity’ (!?!?), between black and white, oppressor and oppressed, east and west. This perception does a great deal to harm the chances of peace in the area, it over simplifies and forces people to take sides rather than looking at the local problems and how they can be resolved. This view therefore needs to be challenged.

    It needs to be challenged because you are right a second time, people see what is going on, the undoubted mistreatment, racism and oppression that results from the actions of the Israeli securtiy forces and their prejudices are reinforced. What you are wrong in saying is ‘prejudices right or wrong’. Prejudices are always wrong.

    This is what makes this whole situation so difficult. We must be critical of current Israeli policy and express solidarity and support for Palestinians who seek to affirm their rights and freedoms without compromising those of others. What we must guard against is using Israeli misdeeds as ‘evidence’ to back up our prejudices.

    On the subject of Israeli academics, I think you are expecting a lot. Perhaps many disagree with the wording of the statement while being sympathetic to its message; perhaps many do not like the politics and tactics of the particular group that circulated the request; perhaps many do not wish to become embroiled in a complex and heated debate. Again you are right, it would be great if Israeli academia was protesting loud and hard against occupation, but I think to punish or exclude somone not for committing a crime, but for not protesting enough about a crime committed by their fellow countrymen is tough to justify and likely to be counter-productive.

    There are groups within Israel who are campaigning for peace, you will find links to some of them on this site. Lend your support to those making the difference on both sides, they’ll appreciate it and it might make a difference. If one is demonised or attacked it tends to lead them feel isolated and to a firmer defence of their existing position. I’m sure you will recognise this feeling from your recent experience😉

    All the best

    Duncan

    • anthony Says:

      ‘This perception does a great deal to harm the chances of peace in the area, it over simplifies and forces people to take sides rather than looking at the local problems and how they can be resolved’

      Thank you Duncan for accepting there may be some validity in my argument about perception. It is not a point of view which has been very well understood or received on this board.

      Being demonised (I’m an Imperialist it seems!) hasn’t left me feeling isolated – I recognise people with my views have no place here anyway – but also, you’ll be pleased to know, it has not led me to a firmer defence of my position. I’m actually softer on the boycott issue now.

      There’s no question I still believe that if an Israeli academic believes that what his government is doing is acceptable then he should be shunned by his peers. People who condone oppression should not be made welcome anywhere, and that applies equally to blacks, women, Muslims and anyone else you choose to name.

      I know some of you disagree with this but I can’t help it, I simply think it is appalling to stand by and say nothing in the face of injustice, especially when you are supposed to be part of the intellectual elite. Especially when your job is working with the minds of your country’s future.

      But I recognise that although their numbers appear (there’s that perception thing again) to be pitifully small, some of Israel’s academics actually are exhibiting a conscience. I learned about Menachem Fisch, Raphael Falk, Eva Jablonka and Snait Gissis’s petition and their declaration that Israeli academics have a ‘duty’ and a ‘responsibility’ to stand up against the system. I learned that they got threats from their peers. I read an account of an academic who really did make a fuss, and was essentially ostracised and exiled.

      There are bound to be others, perhaps just making their way in the profession, who daren’t speak out, and the attitude Israel’s government has to academic freedom for Palestinians shows that they are not squeamish about crushing what they do not like. Maybe there is fear of the state.

      Maybe, maybe not. Maybe most of those 95% who didn’t sign the protest just don’t care, but some of them almost certainly do, and it would be wrong to have a boycott because they would get caught up in it when, given their head, they would be questioning the regime.

      I think the UCU policy should be one which does not involve boycott at all. The demand should be that any member of faculty with a genuine conscientious objection to working with, supporting or affording hospitality to any foreign academic institution or its reps should be allowed to say ‘no thanks’, with no threat of sanction or impediment to career.
      Under those kind of conditions I wouldn’t expect to see many Mugabe-supporting researchers wandering the campuses of Britain. For instance.

      • Bill Says:

        They already can reject requests to work with israel, the US, the neighboring school, their neighboring colleague and the family dog. As I indicated, any faculty member can say “No” (and leave it at that) to any external request to collaborate and nearly all internal ones, and no one should start digging for questions. Similarly they have full academic freedom to protest and oppose Israel, or any other country’s or people’s policies as long as they don’t cross the lines drawn by standing H/D law. What they cannot do, and that’s true for this side of the pond, is that openly do so on basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, vet status, etc…. You know that drill. The boycotters have already tried to split hairs on this matter several times by requiting double-plus-ungood faculty members to do, effectively, loyalty oaths, or worse still, try to admit arab israeli faculty but reject or try to apply such oaths to jewish faculty before they stop resisting their participating in the university community, even if a) they’re just talking hypotheticals, and b) are talking about people with whom they aren’t even going interact anyway (in other words, impacting the academic freedom of other faculty & investigators beyond themselves). A little due diligence will show you not only the inexcusable Jenna Delich affair but the cases where journals editors have blacklisted other editors and authors (for the benefit of their respective communities, of course, since the editors don’t exactly read every article that gets published), rejected graduate student applications from Israel (explicit violations of their RRA) etc. They aren’t talking about boycotts of one. They want to share, whether you agree with them or not.

        Yeah, that’s not what you want, that sure as heck not what I or others here want, but who cares?

        Once again, we can talk about what you want or I want or anyone here wants all safely embubbled in our respective perfect worlds, but it’s immaterial to reality. “The Box” in which we must operate when dealing with the very real prospects of a very real boycott and the very real negative impacts that it will have and has had in academia is the one that the boycott clique in the UCU (and wannabes in AAUP and other Canada unions etc) have decided to construct and play in, (and have require several of the participants form the UK on this board, to clean up after). And what they are doing is illegal, unethical, uncollegial, unprofessional and overall a damaging and stupid idea. The kind of stupid, as Orwell said, you gotta to college to learn.

      • Mira Vogel Says:

        “Being demonised (I’m an Imperialist it seems!) hasn’t left me feeling isolated – I recognise people with my views have no place here anyway – but also, you’ll be pleased to know, it has not led me to a firmer defence of my position. I’m actually softer on the boycott issue now.”

        You do have a place here, Anthony. We are, after all, attempting to Engage. I only wish I had time to participate just now.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          Anthony “There’s no question I still believe that if an Israeli academic believes that what his government is doing is acceptable then he should be shunned by his peers. People who condone oppression should not be made welcome anywhere, and that applies equally to blacks, women, Muslims and anyone else you choose to name.”

          Okay, so what do “you” (impersonal) do about otherwise highly qualified, highly respected, UK academics (and/or US ones at that) who support their government’s efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan? What should have been done about ditto who wholeheartedly supported Thatcher and her attacks on trade unions, as well as the Falkland Islands? Or, in the US, a Bush supporter?

          It’s a _very_ slippery slope you’re suggesting be trodden, because as I hope I’ve shown, it cannot be restricted just to a country “you” happen to think should behave other than it does.

          If “you” do believe that this can be so confined, then “you” risk running into _exactly_ the sort of questioning you’re facing. Let me be absolutely blunt here: why are you (now it’s Anthony I’m talking to) holding Israel and only Israel to higher standards than any other country? And if you’re not, prove it.

        • Anthony Says:

          To the first part of your post – what do you do about British academics etc …

          You oppose them, you oppose them if they are condoning murderous, oppressive behaviour. You get in their faces, let them know you think they are wrong. You shun them, you do what Deborah Lipstadt did to the Oxford Union and David Irving. What else would you do? Invite them for a good supper and talk about football? And yes, I would try to get them off my reading list, especially if they were writing on ethics!

          You have to DO something Brian, not just turn the TV off when your army is bulldozing an entire village simply because they can. It’s all I’m really saying.

          And for the very last part of your post, well, you said I was singling out Israel and yet, I actually said this:

          People who condone oppression should not be made welcome anywhere, and that applies equally to blacks, women, Muslims and anyone else you choose to name.

          And those words mean what they say Brian – ANYBODY, whether they’re from Haifa, Cape Town, Mississippi or Slough, who condones oppression, should not be made welcome. How clear can a sentence be?

          And I know you saw those words because you used them to start your post. So why on earth are you saying that I am referring to only one country?

          And I said this:
          any member of faculty with a genuine conscientious objection to working with, supporting or affording hospitality to any foreign academic institution or its reps should be allowed to say ‘no thanks’, with no threat of sanction or impediment to career.

          Similarly, what I meant by ‘any foreign academic institution’ was, actually, any foreign academic institution. That is, whether it’s in China, Harare, Angola, the Isle of Man, or Tel Aviv.

          I’ll admit it, I am getting frustrated. It’s like having an argument on Groundhog Day, no matter how many times you say ten, the next question is what’s five and five? I know that I am being goaded, it feels kinda creepy, but I do understand why three or four of you always keep trying to bend the issue down to ‘why Israel, what is it about Israel, come on fella, say it, why do you single Israel out, come on, just let go, you know you want to, why, why…?’

          I know what you want me to say. You want me to say it so much that it’s kind of eating at you. It sent one of you over the top and that was horrible to witness. But I’m not going to say it Brian, not to you or anybody. Ever. And you know why?

          Because I don’t believe it.

          Love to you all

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          Anthony “You have to DO something Brian, not just turn the TV off when your army is bulldozing an entire village simply because they can.” Which army are you talking about Anthony? I’m a British citizen (never said I was anything else, otherwise I wouldn’t talk so much about AUT, Natfhe & UCU). I haven’t seen any footage of the British army bulldozing an entire village just because they can. If you mean the _Israeli_ army, then…that’s conflating Jew and Israeli with a vengeance.

          Remember I said way back, be careful when you next put fingers to keyboard?

          Otherwise, are you telling me that I should be boycotting British, US, etc academics. If you aren’t doing that, as (you did say you were a member of UCU didn’t you? or was that meant to be _if_ you were a member?) a UK academic, why aren’t you? Or is it only _Israel’s_ actions you so radically disapprove of? To prove us wrong and show us how wrong we are, tell us just what you are doing to combat _all_ the evil in the world.

          And, BTW, loads of us are doing our bit to try and show that we are far from uncritical supporters of Israel – as any careful reading of these columns and comments would soon demonstrate, to anyone with an at least partly open mind.

          Dangerous ground, Anthony, dangerous ground.

        • baconsandwich Says:

          I left UCU cos dont like the way they are only interested only in big pay rises and there is a big recession going on but I think the bpoycott idea is good if it doesnt get the members into trouble. I understand whaat Anthony is saying, he says, ok, if you’re an Israeli professor and you see the Israel army bullldozing all those people’s houses like they did then there should be a protest because it’s not right, but all the professors don’t do anything. I think you’re jusg pretending to be confused so you can have a go at him because you are backing what Israel’s doing.

  43. Sabato Says:

    “This is what makes this whole situation so difficult. We must be critical of current Israeli policy and express solidarity and support for Palestinians who seek to affirm their rights and freedoms without compromising those of others. What we must guard against is using Israeli misdeeds as ‘evidence’ to back up our prejudices.”

    Excuse me Duncan, but what about Palestinian misdeeds?

    The Israeli government under Labor did agree to a two State solution. Even Sharon and then kadima embraced such a vision. it was the PA authority that refused to sign a final greement.

    Your post is too one sided for my taste.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Sabato, you are equally one-sided. Duncan has taken some of what Anthony has said and responded to it. And responded strongly. If Anthony is not aware of the charges against Hamas of committing war crimes, of staging a bloody coup in gaining control of Gaza, of diverting aid to its own ends and coffers and away from those it was intended for, then no amount of telling Duncan off for failing to include this in _his_ comment will impact on Anthony.

      Of course, if Anthony is unaware of any of this (and he has shown no indication of being unaware), then we can but hope that he will do his research on this.

  44. Saul Says:

    This is Randall’s comment

    “So when Israel’s government launches its strategic, lethal campaigns of military domination and social engineering against Muslims, those who feel they are using their unrivalled power to make a bad situation worse, while dragging the West down into calamitous disrepute alongside them, are bound to listen out for voices of dissent from within.”

    And this,
    “On 2) I can’t see how a boycott of academics is going to have the direct effect of leading the Israeli government to say ‘we can’t take this kind of pressure from all those UCU people in Britain, we’ll have to reverse our policy against the Muslims’.”

    This looks more like your position than a perception.

    Be that as it may,
    “That is what matters. Perception.”
    Yes, it is perception that makes a white person pick out a black person from a identity parade (the result of a controlled experiment and the”offender” was white).
    It is perception that made the majority of Germans complicit in Hitler’s antisemitism.
    It is perception that claims Israel is the only relevant party in the present conflict.
    It is perception that claims Israel is killing a million and a half people as we speak.

    As I mentioned before, serious, critical thinking, brings to the fore the myths and distortions of “perception”. It is a step Randall has yet to take.

  45. Absolute Observer Says:

    Well, Anthony Randall has shown admirable skills in highlighting the perception of the conflict and the calls to boycott that follow from such perception.

    Maybe he will now take the next step and show the underlying reality that such a perception distorts. After all, he implies in his latest post that his own comments,
    i.e. “So when Israel’s government launches its strategic, lethal campaigns of military domination and social engineering against Muslims” and ”
    I can’t see how a boycott of academics is going to have the direct effect of leading the Israeli government to say ‘we can’t take this kind of pressure from all those UCU people in Britain, we’ll have to reverse our policy against the Muslims”.
    are but perceptions.
    So, assuming these are false perceptions – why do these (false) perceptions arise, and how are they to be countered?

    I am not sure why Randall expects academics to speak out any more than anyone else, other than the tautological claim that a couple of Brits raised the matter in an English newspaper.

    I know, I’ll call on the Iraqis to boycott flagmakers in the UK and then demand that the boycott be called off unless all flagmakers (including employees) do not make public statements about the illegal war the UK is conducting.
    Failing that, I will ask the Iraqis to boycott the bicycle riders, and then demand that the UK bicycle riders speak out against the illegal war.
    After all, this is the tactic of gangsters; to make threats that lead to the need for protection and then offer “protection” themselves. It is no different than making threats of a boycott
    and then demand a McCarthyite test to withdraw the threat.

    Of course, my view of Randall as a thug and a bully could just be a “perception”, but, after all, “that is what matters. Perception”

  46. Absolute Observer Says:

    Is Anthony Randall really serious?
    Israeli Jewish academics are under not more obligation than any other nationality’s academics to “take their government to task”.
    What world is he living in?

    Anthony Randall, who freely admits that his “knowledge” of the conflict is limited to that of “perception” and yet he feels embiggened (see Jebediah Springfiled) to set conditions on Israeli academics’ freedom.

    Well, not to put too fine a point on it………….Screw you!

    The days of morally outraged Brits setting conditions and tests on whether Jewish academics (in Israel or elsewhere) can and cannot partake within the academic world; a world which Randall wants to reintroduce, is long gone. He may dream his imperial dreams as much as he likes; for the rest of us the world has moved on.

    And, related to this point, early on, Randall was asked to “state what is exceptional about Israeli behaviour that makes it such an exceptional case that demands such exceptional responses.”

    HIs response was, to say (prior to what he now claims is a reportage of perceptions) that there “isn’t much that is exceptional about the Israeli case. But this is not a competition of scale.”

    Well, if there is nothing exceptional but that the reasons for an “exception” is but mere perception and that there is nothing to place Israel atop of a league table of “scale” – his argument for a boycott falls to the ground; or rather exposes it for what it is, selective treatment with no rational basis.

    So, the question remains.
    Why despite the fact that Israel is no exception; despite the fact that the reasons he gives for a boycott are but “perceptions”, does he continue to call for a boycott, one that is conditional on Israeli Jewish academics doing something that he does not demand (but, no doubt would like) of any other body of academics; be it those from the USA (following the “legality”of torture) Iran (and one need only look to the recent purging of liberal academics in that country) of German Catholics (following the recent statement of a German pope that condoms makes the AIDS pandemic worse)’ of Chinese academics folllowing the annexation of Tibet and the recent repression there); or of British academics following its activities in Basra and elsewhere.

    In other words, in the absence of facts, what is it about Israel – and only Israel – that for Randall attracts the threat of boycott?

    Until he is able to answer that question the rest of his discussion of what he believes Israeli Jewish academics must or must not do, what test they must pass for him to withdraw the threat of exclusion. is not only irrelevant, but beginning to sound at its best, somewhat hollow; and at its worst, mere persecution.

  47. anthony Says:

    I’m sorry AO, I’m not going to respond to that, because it misunderstands and profoundly misrepresents my arguments and opinions, and because you lapse into offensive behaviour once more. Other respondents on this thread have been able to follow my arguments and discuss them in a genuine way, even when they make it clear that they feel they are not sound. I planned to return to the thread later but I saw your post here, and I have to tell you, this is not the way to persuade people that you are worth listening to.

    I do try to work out why you are so angry, and I get worried.

    I can’t stop you and would not seek to, but I’d be grateful if you would not respond to my posts if you can’t hold your temper. It doesn’t help anybody.

  48. Alex Says:

    Anthony,

    I don’t know specifically why AO is angry, and the use of language veering from argument to attack has been discussed sadly far too often, but one possible explanation is this:

    No matter how neutral and balanced an argument is, no matter how “good” or “right”, neither criticism nor calls for action are divorced from broader context or from their effect.

    “Criticism” of Israel cannot be divorced from the global history of Jews. (This does not mean criticism of specific policies cannot be done. It just requires sensitivity.) Same with calls for action. When you call for a boycott of Israel (in one form or another), it reminds us of boycotts of Jews throughout history. When you require academics to express a given view, it raises the spectre of “Jews have dual loyalty and must publicly disavow their Judaism”. When you automatically accept the perception of Israel’s crimes (when brought by Israel’s enemies), it reminds us of blood-libels past.

    When people talk about all-powerful Israel/Zionist lobbies (eliding into Jewish lobbies all too often), it reminds us of the conspiracy theories of secret Cabals of Jews controlling . When people claim that anyone who criticises Israel is shutdown by claims of anti-semitism, it reminds us of the stereotypes of the perfidious Jew.

    And when memories of anti-semitism are evoked, it is upsetting. Can you blame people for getting angry? (This does not justify any action in response to the anger – there is a difference between having an emotion and acting on it. It is part of being civilised).

    Another possible reason for the anger is this:

    When Israel is criticised, no matter how fairly or legitimately, this is picked up by people who wish to do harm to Israel and/or Jews. It is adapted. Morphed. Twisted. It is used to stir up hatred. It is used to legitimise anti-semitic rhetoric and actions. It is used to justify and accept violence and discrimination.

    Do you know how it feels to have barbed-wire fence and security guards on your school because of fears of attacks? Do you know how it feels to go to your place of worship on the holiest day of your religion’s calendar, and the first thing you do is read the pamphlets provided regarding security arrangements? Do you know how it feels to go and visit a place of worship in a foreign country while you are travelling and be questioned and frisked? Do you know how it feels to be asked to stick a symbol of your religion in your pocket when leaving your place of worship because it raises security issues?

    And when you have all of these asked of you – with the attendant costs and stress, and you hear people telling you that the threats which make these precautions necessary are “understandable”, maybe you’ll work out why you get some emotional responses from people if you use language a little too loosely, even though you personally don’t mean any harm. This does not justify sharp words being said against someone who was acting in good faith and wasn’t being malicious, but I hope it helps you work out why careless language can elicit emotional responses.

    • anthony Says:

      Alex, you show how emotional responses don’t need careless and aggressive language to be powerful. I know it’s seen as nerdish by some to spend too long on forum boards, but I’ve just had an extraordinary couple of days when really I should have been doing something else, and I feel like finally we’ve got down to the guts of it.

      Thank you. I really didn’t come here to cause trouble.

      Anthony

  49. Absolute Observer Says:

    I have no “lost my temper”, please do not flatter yourself that your evasions have disturbed my equilibruim.

    However, I do find it deeply “offensive” – and politically frightening – that people such as yourself desire a “pleasant. rational” discussion about excluding Israeli Jewish academics – and only Israeli Jewish scholars – form the world community of scholars. (btw,

    I too get worried when “decent” folk like yourself follow the herd and call for measures that are premised on errors, contradictions, falsehoods and false “perceptions”. After all, decent folk like you have a bit of previous behind them.

    Considering that you have offered not one reason (salient or otherwise) why, of the 180 or so states in the world, Israel is the exception that needs exceptional measures taken against it, I find your refusal to answer my points telling.

    You, like so many others, are a fraud.

    You claim to have insights but when asked to clarify and expand on them, your lack of substance is brought into relief.

    To hide the want of such substance, you put on a masquarade of civility. Such underhand strategies to hide you own shortcomings may work with others, but for me it doesn’t wash.

    So, again,

    Why despite the fact that Israel is no exception; despite the fact that the reasons he gives for a boycott are but “perceptions”, does he continue to call for a boycott, one that is conditional on Israeli Jewish academics doing something that he does not demand (but, no doubt would like) of any other body of academics; be it those from the USA (following the “legality”of torture) Iran (and one need only look to the recent purging of liberal academics in that country) of German Catholics (following the recent statement of a German pope that condoms makes the AIDS pandemic worse)’ of Chinese academics folllowing the annexation of Tibet and the recent repression there); or of British academics following its activities in Basra and elsewhere.

    In other words, in the absence of facts, what is it about Israel – and only Israel – that for Randall attracts the threat of boycott?

    Or, have I misrepresented and misunderstood this point. If so, perhaps you can tell me what is “exceptional” about Israel that calls for exceptional measures. (After all, I was merely quoting your own words)?

    Of course, you could simply “boycott” me. That does seem to be your preferred tactic. At least you won’t then have to make up facile excuses for your own shortcomings, but instead, hide behind a faux “political” “principle”; a principle you are incapable of substantiating in any meaningful sense.

    Oh, and one other thing, I know damn well I am worth listening to (your inability to answer my criticisms (for that is what it is) is evidence of that). However, I cannot help it if you refuse the hear, think and speak.

    Finally, Just as Jews refused to “help” Mel Gibson “understand” his comments, so I am not here to “help” you or anyone else for that matter “understand” your mistakes.

    If you want therapy, don’t expect me to be your counsellor.

  50. Absolute Observer Says:

    Alex,
    Thanks,
    But, I was not angry (and, even if I were to have been, anger is an legitimate emotion in the civilised world – it is those who not only repress it themselves, but seek to repress it in others that the dangers lie…………where the anger turns into a cold, detached violence which they then project onto others.)

    But, let’s be honest here.

    Reading over Randall’s comments, it is apparent that he is typical of that guy in the pub, who, while he thinks what he has to say is serous and important and demands “respect” for his views, is, for anyone in the least familiar with the topic, a rehash of ideas that are shallow, superficial and frankly, dull.

    But, thanks, anyway.

    One other thing.

    I agree with you that stuff can be used by those wishing harm; but that is not reason of itself for not making it known (which I note you are not arguing for).

    All the best,
    AO

    • Alex Says:

      AO,

      Anger is a legitimate response. The emotion is fine and healthy. It is when that anger turns in to a concrete response that affects others that there is the potential for danger. Without passing judgement on who did what, who was angry, etc: If you had got angry and said something offensive to Anthony, who has then got offended and hardened position and retorted, and the whole thing has escalated, while both your being angry and his being offended would both be reasonable and legitimate emotional responses, you saying something offensive would have been less legitimate, and the escalation would have been unfortunate.

      I’m not arguing for it to not be known. I’m arguing that it needs to be handled with carefully considered language and with sensitivity.

      The really sad thing is that people who were at the forefront of effecting social change – so that a yung’un like me know has grown up in an environment where we just know why comments like the one that got Carol Thatcher into trouble are wrong; why the prince’s names for his pakistani colleague are offensive; why diversity should be treated with respect – think nothing of interweaving anti-semitic imagery and language into their “criticisms” of Israel. It is why I find left-wing racism worse than right-wing racism: they should know better.

  51. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anthony, this gets complicated, so a time line: attached to a comment by you dated 26.03 @ 3.05pm is one by me (after two intervening comments) dated 26.03 @ 9.43pm; then a reply by you dated 27.03 @ 12.05 pm, and another by me 27.03 @ 6.49pm.

    Your last comment goes on about “watching your army bulldozing a village…” I said that I’m a UK citizen and haven’t seen any tv footage to switch off of the British army bulldozing any villages. You’re either in danger of, or actually, conflating Jew and Israeli here. If you are, that’s bloody close to demonising British Jews for what Israelis do: and is arguably antisemitic. Do you want to reconsider your comments? And if not, why not?

    I should have added to that last comment of mine that there’s a huge difference between confronting/debating/arguing with colleagues one disagrees with politically (ie, other than over academic discipline matters) and _boycotting_ them to make them think again (and presumably differently – ie, to think as _you_ want them to think).

    If this is what you actually mean by your last post (dated/timed 27.03 @ 12.05pm), then as Israeli academics and politicians will undoubtedly say, “fuck you”. If you deny me legitimacy in my academic persona by denying me academic freedom until I agree with you, then I will ignore you and take my academic business elsewhere. And quite possibly others in your country will sue you and/or your employer for breach of the RRA.

    It will be utterly irrelevant if you consider the law as, somehow, an attack on _your_ academic freedom to deny me my academic freedom. It will also be ironic, given the efforts by academics in the UK to _actually_ get such laws on the statute book in the first place.

    If I have misrepresented you in any way (based on your last response to _me_), then you’d better get writing, hadn’t you, to correct me. Or expect further attacks from all sorts of quarters, and not ad hominem ones, either.


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