Engage Journal Issue 2 – May 2006 Editorial – Alexandra Simonon

Issue 2 of the Engage journal appears on a strange day: yesterday, NATFHE conference voted in favour of resolution 198C, which ‘invites’ members of that union to examine their conscience before engaging with Israeli academics. It urged them to ‘consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies’. This is of course a great disappointment for all those who have argued and fought against the singling out of Israel for harsher punishment.

But Natfhe will cease to exist on Wednesday when it merges with AUT, and it is our understanding that the blacklisting policy will not bind the new University and College Union (UCU).

On Wednesday, we will expect UCU to state clearly that NATFHE’s policy does not have any standing in the new union.

Of course, the question of a boycott of Israeli universities is likely to come up again at UCU’s first conference, in May 2007. The insidious campaign, lead by those who want to isolate and single out Israeli academics but fail to propose real measures of solidarity with the Palestinians, must be defeated.

Engage, its supporters and its friends, must win the arguments on a number of levels. One of these levels, no less important than the others, is academic: this is the role of the Engage journal. John Strawson’s article on South Africa, for example, shows clearly why it is wrong to call Israel an apartheid state. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as you have enjoyed the previous one. Here is an overview of what you will find:

Karl Marx, it is often said, was one of the founding fathers of left antisemitism. Robert Fine attempts to deconstruct this myth, arguing that Marx’s “On the Jewish Question” is a critique of antisemitism and not, as is widely believed, an example of it. Many readers will want to argue with Fine’s position: please do send in (alex@engageonline.org.uk) short replies (about a thousand words) and we will carry a number of them in Issue 3.

John Strawson shows that the way the apartheid analogy is used by the boycott campaign in the context of Israel/Palestine is casual, unhistorical, and unhelpful.

Olaf Kistenmacher (Germany) and Leonard Epafras (Indonesia) both present an analysis of anti-Jewish forms of thoughts in a particular newspaper. Kistenmacher looks at the German communist party’s daily newspaper Rote Fahne(‘Red Flag’) during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), and Epafras concentrate on how ‘the Jew’ is portrayed by one Muslim newspaper, Indonesia’s Republika daily.

‘The’ Jews as products of globalisation is a translation of a paper first published by Evelien Gans (Netherlands) in ‘De Groene Amsterdammer’, in which she, amongst other questions, asks why there was no general outcry when the Arab European League and newspapers in countries such as Iran published antisemitic cartoons following ‘toongate’.

Winston Pickett looks at the use of antisemitic topoi in the left-liberal media.

Christopher MacDonald-Dennis examines the antisemitism some Jewish students experience at purportedly multicultural institutions of higher education in the US.

Finally, Karl Pfeifer (Austria) discusses the implications of freedom of speech, in the particular context of revisionism and negationism.

Alexandra Simonon is managing editor of Engage.

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