UCU remembers the past but ignores the present

BY Ex-UCU member.

I am afraid that this reference to antisemitism and the Holocaust by the UCU which, in the words of David Hirsh,
focuses on things “a long time ago” not only ignores the antisemitism that is currently rife in its ranks but also acts as a means of legitimising it.

It is, in effect, nothing more than a fig leaf so that when anti-racists complain about contemporary antisemitism within its ranks they can point to this poster and claim that how can they, the UCU, be antisemitic when they have this poster about the Holocaust.

In many ways, this public relations exercise is similar to that adopted by the far-right in other parts of Europe. When asked if they deny the Holocaust, they now tend to say that it did happen and what a terrible thing it is. And, in so doing, they get a pass for the antisemitic bile (often, but not always in the guise of anti-zionism) that they still propagate.

Whilst of course not of the far-right (even if some of the “anti-Zionism” that its activist spout is of the same kind), the function of the new poster serves the same purpose. By recognising past antisemitism, they think they can get a pass for the present.
After all, if they were serious about combating antisemitism then they would begin to wonder on why so many members, many of whom are Jewish, have resigned over the recent boycott issue; why those opposing the boycott have been subject to abuse and bullying; why conspiracy theories about “Zionist Lobbies” and “Zionist power” are a constant topic of discussion; and so on and so forth.

Apart from the far right and other assorted groups, the idea that the Holocaust was a terrible and tragic thing is hardly controversial. More difficult is the recognition of contemporary antisemitism, the antisemitism that attaches itself to anti-Zionism that the UCU against which the UCU nor only fail to challenge, but which it regularly propagates.

Ex-UCU member.

UCU’s poster on the Holocaust

UCU has released a timeline poster outlining what happened to victims of the Nazis. It begins:

“Why we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January…

As educators UCU members recognise our unique responsibility to tell the truth about our past to ensure the lessons are learnt for our future. The millions who died at the hands of the Nazis and their allies during the Holocaust must be remembered not just as the victims of an unparalleled man-made tragedy – but also as a warning that we must never
allow it to happen again. We must continue to educate our children against the dangers of anti-Semitism, fascism
and racial discrimination. Encouraging them – and us – to take a stand against hatred and intolerance wherever they
find it is the best way to ensure a just, democratic and tolerant society where all can live free from fear.

Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary”

UCU is interpreting commemoration of the Holocaust as the need to educate about the events of Nazi antisemitism in Europe between 1933 and 1945. This is welcome and keeps good faith with trade union anti-fascist tradition. Here’s a link to the poster [pdf], which you can order in hard copy from akhan@ucu.org.uk.  But, so far, the way UCU chooses to think about the Holocaust in relation to its own activities hasn’t been sufficient to keep it free of other forms of antisemitism.

Irish unions host ‘anti-Israel’ parley

Ireland’s national trade union federation is hosting a conference in Dublin on Friday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a majority of speakers either firm advocates or not opposed to a complete boycott of Israel.

Jonny Paul in the Jerusalem Post.

Berkeley’s Israel boycott: The occupation’s new friend

Bradley Burston in Haaretz.

“The proof is in the performance. From Britain to Berkeley to Toronto, the only actual consequence of the BDS movement has been to dramatically inflate the importance of its proponents in their own eyes.

Think about it. If you wanted to do something direct and concrete to protest the killing of civilians and journalists by a U.S. Army Apache helicopter gunship in Baghdad, you could take direct effective action in a number of ways. You could organize and hold a demonstration. You can contact public officials directly. You can take your case to the media, and do community organizing.

Alternatively, the next time you fly home, you could politically spin your wheels by boycotting Boeing, which made the helicopter. You’ll be doing the government a favor, getting yourself off its back.

Should you decide to go this route, which, the path both of least resistance and of least likely good, it’ll be easy enough for you to remember. Boeing refers to its division which manufactures the Apache, by the initials BDS. ”

Read the whole article Here.

Hat Tip Modernity.

Far right discourse

Gerald Kauffman: Just as Lord Ashcroft owns most of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the rest.

The Britons Publishing Society , publishers of The Protocols : To protect the birthright of Britons and to eradicate Alien influence from our politics and industries. (quoted in “Very Deeply Dyed in Black” by Graham Macklin).

Jenny Tonge : The pro-Israeli Lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party.

Nicky Davison 19, was accused of co-founding the “Aryan Strike Force”, an online far-Right movement that aimed to bring “total victory” by toppling a Government they claimed had been “taken over by the Jews”.

Martin Linton : There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends.

What does a settlement boycott actually mean?

This is a guest post by Jak Codd.

On March 31st UNISON, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, announced their support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s effort to end the sale of Israeli settlement produce in Britain. On the face of it this is hardly a controversial position – the settlements established from 1967 onwards are widely considered illegal and a barrier to the peace process.

However, a closer look at the ideology and discourse of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign show that all is not as it seems. The PSC have an interesting article on their website entitled 62 Years of Nakba in which they state the following:
The United Nations had proposed a partition plan giving 55% of ancient Palestine for a Jewish state but the Zionists – who had targeted the whole of Palestine for the creation of a Jewish State long before the Nazi atrocities – took 78% of the land by terrorist tactics and military force.

The clear implication here is that it is not the land taken in the 1967 war by Israel that is occupied, but rather much of the land that Israel controlled after the 1948 War of Independence. Under this thinking, the cities such as Ashdod, Beersheva and Jaffa are considered occupied Palestinian land. Does the PSC consider produce from these areas as ‘settlement goods’ that should be boycotted?

The PSC’s ‘Settlements – The Fact’ briefing sheet again reiterates this position :

In 1947, the UN partitioned Palestine (whose population was 70% Palestinian Arab) and decreed that 55% of the land would be used to create Israel. In 1948, Zionist forces seized more land, razing about 500 Palestinian villages to the ground and driving 750,000 Palestinians abroad as refugees. More than 13,000 Palestinians were killed.

The PSC is deliberately blurring the line between the lands occupied in 1967, and the State of Israel as established in 1948. The TUC, UNISON, and other trade unions that sign up to the PSC campaign to boycott settlement goods should clearly distance themselves from any attempt to conflate the two. Failure to do so could result in a full scale boycott of Israeli goods, which would be a barrier to peace and significantly damage Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and workers on the ground. Opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank should be accompanied by solidarity with grassroots activists in the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. It is the workers on the ground that want to see a just and long lasting peace for Israel and Palestinian – and it is groups like the PSC that seek to undermine them at every turn.

Anti-Ciganism and Anti-Semitism

This is a guest post by Karl Pfeifer. Karl has translated an article from www.galamus.hu/.

Not yet rotten to the core.

By Julia Lévai on the Hungarian blog galamus

Translated by Karl Pfeifer

People adapt themselves to circumstances. Sooner or later everyone is forming a strategy on how do deal with today’s continuous anti-Semitism and anti-Ciganizm.

Somebody opens his mouth and you do not want to believe your ears. That’s what started about seventeen years ago. You’re shocked and try somehow to get things straightened out. When you succeed you’re calm and in times like these you have a good one or two-liner ready for any eventuality. And sometimes you can even shame the foul-mouthed fellow and leave him perplexed and speechless.

Say you go to the coffeehouse and see a table where they’ve made anti-Semitic remarks for quiet a time. The people look so cheerful and happy that you’d almost like to be part of them. They might even push out a chair with a spontaneous inviting move.

So you interrupt and state calmly: Please be so kind to stop the anti-Semitic remarks, this is a public space and we’re in Europe.

Until now this trick has just failed once. When somebody asked me, pointing to the cover of a magazine: “Is this journalist a Jew?” – I asked reflexively whether he was registering Jews, to which he menacingly replied “yes”, which is the conviction of a man who has just found his vocation. I was at a loss for words. He won. But that’s the only exception to the rule.

However now we seem to have entered the phase of apathy.

It happened in the changing room of a swimming pool – now shared between men and women, with little cubicles for the ultimate change of clothes. There is always a slightly frivolous atmosphere. A woman in a bikini feels naked amid men with scarves and overcoats. While I redid my eye-make-up I saw about seven-eight men getting undressed and chatting at both ends of a long bench. They could have come from the same place of work; they could have been an organized group.

I received some appreciative looks for the make up of my left eye, but more exciting was the amusing short man who talked to them. A story about himself in the supermarket where he could not pay for the goods.

– They have stolen my whole wallet. With money, credit card with everything from here from my side-pocket. Now it has some compartments.

He does not need to change his underpants for he has already put the swimming trunks at home.

“-” In the supermarket?”

– “No, on the tram. They could have taken it out of the inner compartment. They are very well trained. Dirty gypsies.”

He just puts away his swimming cap and his towel and he starts to put things into the closet.

– “Have you seen them?

– Nope! I would have served them well me if I had seen them. These damn gypsies should be shot into the Danube like the Jews at the time. Then we would have order here“.

The communication of an almost naked man with moles in the warm, always steamy and snug dressing room.

This is not just everyday anti-Semitism and not just everyday anti-Ciganism, this is something very different, something I can’t classify. While it is true that you can make anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy remarks openly and with impunity, the direct wish to kill is shocking.

I have no one- or two liners to deal with it. The best I could muster in such situations was a “stop it!” but what should the man stop? His wish to kill? But I feel as ridiculously dumb standing there.

Interestingly all the others are silent too. Nobody is curious what happened to his full shopping-basked, how he solved the problem of payment.

The storyteller has finished with his dressing and goes to the pool. He stands up with some difficulty, he has a stick with him.

“Kiss your hand, see you again“, he greets me in passing. Then walks past the dressing-room attendant.

A young boy who sighs deeply, and then says to the short fellow and to nobody in particular: “And the time has come” – the slogan of the Fidesz-party that just won the election.

Our country is not yet rotten to the core.

The Article was published on April 14, 2010

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