Julie Burchill: tedious trade unionist turncoats

Julie Burchill doesn’t need a lecture on antisemitism from today’s trade unionists (HT: Ben).

Here is one of today’s trade unionists. He isn’t representative, but he is permitted an unchallenged outlet for his antisemitic views on UCU’s Activist List.

Mohammed Barakeh’s courageous step

Hadash General Secretary and Member of the Knesset Mohammed Barakeh will join an Israeli parliamentary delegation to Auschwitz, a decision which has split Israel’s Arab citizens down the middle. The Abraham Fund‘s Mohammad Darawshe comments in a Ha’aretz piece which responds to the fear that paying heed to this Jewish narrative will validate a Jewish sense of entitlement while negating Palestinian claims.

“The country’s Arab citizens are probably split down the middle regarding Barakeh’s trip, but many of those who oppose it have suggested that it is too soon to show empathy for Israel’s Jews, as they are responsible for continued discrimination and marginalization of the country’s Arabs, not to mention the ongoing oppression of their Palestinian brethren in the occupied territories.

Others see Barakeh’s participation in a parliamentary delegation as problematic because they fear it may be seen as signaling acceptance of the Jewish narrative, and thus strengthening the argument that the Jews – not the Palestinians – are the victims of history. Some Arabs believe that empathetic gestures should be made by Israel’s majority, not by its minority, and that such a step by an Arab politician should be a “prize” given to the Jews only after they have demonstrated understanding of and offered equality to Arab citizens.”

This is why Mohammed Barakeh’s decision is courageous. Read on for Mohammad Darawshe’s response.

UCU and institutions that boycott

On the University and College Union‘s Activists List, Harry Goldstein (UCL) responds to boycotters’ defence of Norway’s University of Bergen for giving official consideration to an institution-wide boycott of Israel:

xxxx, I think you and xxxx are both being disingenuous.

What would it mean for an institution to ‘take a stance’ on this issue?

Would it (a) mean that the institution bans its employees from making an academic judgement to collaborate with Israeli academics? In which case would the academics be vulnerable to disciplinary action for breaches of this ban? And if this were the case, would UCU support the academic’s freedom to make an academic judgement, or would it support management’s right to override that judgement and punish the academic for making it?

Would it (b) mean that the institution merely ‘suggests’ that such collaborations would be frowned on? In this case would UCU support any academic concerned that their career prospects might suffer if they ignored such ‘suggestions’, as clearly any such detriment to career prospects would amount to victimisation?

Would it (c) mean that the institution encouraged demonstrations or other hostility against the ‘offending’ academic? If this is so, it would amount to intimidation by management of an academic/employee going about his or her legitimate work.

If it meant none of the above, then it is hard to know what such a stance could possibly mean.

It’s really not good enough to say that they’re only having the debate. UCU is not usually so laid back about management ‘merely’ discussing things. For example, discussing attacks on employment security, pay and conditions, etc.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that you are happy for management to attack their employees’ academic freedom provided it is in pursuit of one of your own pet causes.

We will remember this next time you complain about the (alleged) pressures on dissenting Israeli academics.

Reproduced with the author’s permission.

Stephen Sizer, The Police And The Barbra Streisand Effect

More details from Modernity here.

University of Bergen to hold official debate on boycotting Israel

In Norway last year the University of Trondheim’s board threw out an attempt by its anti-Israel pressure group to force all Trondheim employees to boycott Israel. It was a boycott any academic trade unionist must oppose on principle.

Now Principle Sigmund Grønmo of the University of Bergen, one of Norway’s larger HE institutions, is going to open a debate on boycotting Israel. Boycotting Israeli academics cannot build anything positive for Palestinians, and it will harm our academic integrity. By now you know the score – we see again this willingness on the part of boycotters to surrender the free exchange and pursuit of knowledge to one political position, and the enthusiasm for wasting (other people’s) academic energy on performing or opposing hostility against Israel. It seems that Bergen is not considering targeting any other country’s institutions with boycott – for me the singularity of this organised attack on only Israel has always been the most disturbing and ominous thing about the boycott campaign – and it’s still disturbing and ominous. Let’s hope Bergen kicks it out.

Hungary: the writing on the wall

This post is by Karl Pfeifer:

I am told not to be alarmed when I encounter aggressive antisemitism in Hungary. After all there exists a vibrant Jewish culture in Budapest and there is hope the conservative Fidesz will curb the development of aggressive Anti-Semitism’s although it is tolerating implicit and not so implicit Anti-Semitism of some its politicians and journalists at present. Fidesz is supposed to do it only to attract Jobbik voters. A dim hope indeed, when a random sample of Hungarian media shows beyond any doubt that the ongoing antisemitic hate campaigns rank with those of the Hungarian arrow-cross Nazis.

Erzsébet Scipiades wrote in leftwing daily “Népszava” Article “Hello Nazi” about a discussion between teachers and pupils after the performance of a play in which a young German neo-Nazi and a young Pole share the same German cell, which casts a damning light on some Hungarian schools.

A well-groomed lady teacher says: “I think the play is optimistic compared to what I see around me. […] In our school pupils prepare lists of Jewish children and collect signatures demanding them to be expelled. Or they paint a Star of David on the chair of Jewish children. Or they ask a Jewish teacher what are you doing here, why don’t you go to Israel.”


But antisemitism is not limited to schools. Thanks to János Kis and his liberal party there is no law restricting hate preachers. In 1997 Kis published “Freedom of speech and Nazi discourse” demanding freedom of speech for Nazis, considering this a problem of society and not of the legal system. He is very quiet nowadays, when Hungarian society fails to push back racism and antisemitism.


So it’s no surprise to find a long list of Jews and alleged ‘Jews’ in Hungarian public life complete with pictures on ‘Metapedia’, a neo-arrow-cross website claiming to be a ‘national’ lexicon.


Hungarian Nazis have put another absurd list – starting of course with Karl Marx – on YouTube: “Jews, the people of revenge.”


Needless to say a lot of their ‘Jews’ are not Jewish at all.

The old Nazi propaganda can be legally rehashed and many Hungarians take to it. They consider the Jew, pulling strings behind the scenes, the root of evil. The diversity of Jewish existence is taken as proof of the existence of this mythical hate-figure. The intellectual assimilated Jew stands for the despised modernity; the religious Orthodox Jew fits into the traditional image of Christian Anti-Semitism; the economically successful Jew stands for ‘money-grubbing capital’ and liberalism and the Jewish socialist for abominable ‘Marxism’.

So at the beginning of the 21st century we encounter Hungarians who believe in the National Socialist utopia of the “Volksgemeinschaft” – the national community of people to which Jews, per definition, durst not belong.

When in spring 1944 about half a million Jews were deported within six weeks with the consent of Horthy and the zealous help of Hungarian Police and Gendarmerie, the Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators promised the Hungarians a real Volksgemeinschaft. Many ‘little’ Hungarian arrow-cross perpetrators found later their way into the communist party and after the war several pogroms took place. This can partly explain why so many Hungarian Jews avoid any contact with the Jewish community and Jewish organisations.

If you want to understand Hungary in the 21st century, visit Budapest and see a plaque placed in the military history museum in memory of the Hungarian gendarmes, an organisation whose record in the Holocaust can be compared to that of the SS.

I heard more than once in Hungary “Anti-Semitism is typical for old and uneducated people” by those who tend to play its existence down. However 40 years of ‘socialism’ and ‘prescribed anti-fascism’ and 20 years of tolerance and ‘freedom of speech’ did not prevent antisemitism becoming a significant force in all walks of life. Young extreme right-wing educated people are pathologically preoccupied with Jews and Gypsies, as the above websites testify.

The writing is on the wall.

Anglican Vicar Uses Police To Intimidate Blogger

This is a guest post by Seismic Shock.

As some people have noticed, I’ve been rather quiet in blogging about the Reverend Stephen Sizer’s activities of late.

After all, what more can be said of a man forwards emails from Holocaust deniers, shares platforms with Holocaust deniers, and shamelessly flaunts his anti-Zionist theology before Iran’s apocalyptic Holocaust-denying regime? As Iranian pastors are arrested and house churches closed down, why is the Khomeinist regime translating Sizer’s book on Christian Zionism into Farsi? How many more times can I point all this out?

Yet there’s another reason why I’ve been quiet, and whilst I’ve held my tongue and my pen for a while, now is the time to speak.

At 10am on Sunday 29th November 2009, I received a visit from two policemen regarding my activities in running the Seismic Shock blog. (Does exposing a vicar’s associations with extremists make me a criminal?, I wondered initially). A sergeant from the Horsforth Police related to me that he had received complaints via Surrey Police from Rev Sizer and from Dr Anthony McRoy – a lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology – who both objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers.

(Context: Sizer has associated with some very nasty terrorists and Holocaust deniers; McRoy has delivered a paper at a Khomeinist theological conference in Iran comparing Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel via suicide bombing with the Christian’s struggle against sin via the atoning death of Jesus, and describes the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier as an “intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming” man who “gives quick, extensive and intelligent answers to any question, mixed with genial humour”).

The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat, in which I agreed to delete my original blog (http://seismicshock.blogspot.com/) but maintain my current one (http://seismicshock.wordpress.com). The policeman related to me that his police force had been in contact with the ICT department my previous place of study, and had looked through my files, and that the head of ICT at my university would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers (I am sure other people use university property to make political comments, but nevermind).

With my research on Reverend Sizer’s associations with terrorists and Holocaust deniers making its way into a publication of the Society of Biblical Literature, I was quite content to hold my peace. However, now that Reverend Sizer is now misrepresenting what has happened in my case in order to intimidate others, now is the time to speak up.

A Christian blogger – “Vee” of LivingJourney, who is based in Australia – linked to my blog as a resource for Christians to learn about anti-Semitism in the Church, including “lots of info on Stephen Sizer and Sabeel”.

Rev Sizer left her this comment:

Dear Vee,

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.


Sure, Stephen Sizer managed to somehow arrange a police visit to me from within the UK, but does Sizer genuinely think he can use police on the other side of the world to this effect?

Why is Reverend Sizer claiming that I received a police caution, when the police stressed I did not receive a caution? Is Sizer deliberately misrepresenting the same police force that he originally used to his advantage?

Who is Reverend Sizer reporting to, and why does Reverend Sizer genuinely feel he has the power to close down debate by threatening police action? Why call the cops rather than answer his critics?

Political and theological disagreements should never be accompanied with threats of litigation or police action, but instead with logic and open debate.

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