The latest installment of the UCU saga reveals, yet again, the obsessive character of the boycotters.
In the week after the end of the Gaza war 1300 Sri Lankan civilians were killed yet this is not an issue for the Israel boycotters. Nor is the fact that since, this number has multiplied many times – with reliable reports of schools, hospitals and “safe areas” attacked, sometimes with hundreds killed in one incident.
The boycotters appear unconcerned about the way in which Singhalese nationalism has been nourished within some sectors of Sri Lankan higher education. It could be argued that the production and circulation of such nationalism which sets out to exclude the Tamils creates the atmosphere which legitimizes the Sri Lankan military attacks on Tamil civilians. Those who have intellectually sustained Singhalese nationalism through writing books, teaching courses, and working on strategic research could be seen a complicit with the Sri Lankan military – a situation which has existed for at least 30 years. I think this is the kind of argument that the motion is using about Israel, is it not? However, over the three decades of the Sri Lankan civil war – which has been marked by systematic attacks on civilians, racist thuggery, dispossession, targeted assassinations and national exclusion – our boycotters have never raised the idea of an academic boycott of Sri Lanka.
The resolution itself is factually inaccurate and erroneous on international law. First Israel did not set out to remove an elected government. It is a myth that the Hamas was the elected government of Gaza. After the Hamas-led front won the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006, the organization attempted a coup against the elected President (Abbas) of the authority in 2007, and was constitutionally removed from office. It then retreated to Gaza – not as the elected representatives of the people but as failed coup-plotters.
Nor is it legally tenable than Israel’s war (which I absolutely opposed) was “aggression”. Even the rather pathetic Arab League’s report “No Safe Place” concludes “due to the uncertain meaning of ‘aggression’ it could make no finding on the question of whether Israel’s offensive constituted aggression” (16:2). The UCU boycotters are clearly legal experts in a very special sense.
The truth is that the obsessive and irrational character of the boycotters means that for them the actual adoption of any resolution is neither here nor there. What they want is the opportunity to continue to circulate crude anti-Zionist propaganda at every opportunity. Attacking Israel and normalizing historical and political falsities is their aim. It is not the boycott but the continual fueling of hate against Israel, Israelis and Jews whose national identity is shaped by Israel that is the purpose. In this sense the twisted logical of debating a motion that cannot be legally adopted becomes a clear political campaign.