Hard cheese, sour grapes and they want to make me eat them

Via Engage. Socialist Worker reckons the academic boycott has fallen victim to a “well-funded Zionist campaign” and recommends a vindictive kind of climb-down. Which will in all probability leave those who oppose the boycott (in the most unedifying ‘debate’ I’ve ever had the shame to participate in) dealing with undiluted diehard nutcases.

The left faces two problems here. The first is that the boycott is an issue that divides critics of Israel. Even as sterling an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist as Noam Chomsky opposes it.

The second is that any ballot would be dominated by a well-funded Zionist campaign that would enjoy the overwhelming support of the mass media. Under such pressure, the boycott would almost certainly be heavily defeated. Such an outcome would set back the cause of solidarity with Palestine in British universities for many years.

The left should refuse to walk into Hunt’s trap. We should make it clear now that we do not intend to propose an actual boycott of any Israeli academic institutions at the next union congress.

We should do so in order to achieve the maximum unity over the question of Palestine.

Many opponents of the boycott have been fulsome in their support for the Palestinians. We should put them on the spot and demand to know, if a boycott were off the agenda, what they intend to do help the Palestinians.

And, rather than apologising for raising the issue of a boycott, we should go onto the offensive. Not only should we put the spotlight on places like Ariel, but we should argue that UCU campaigns against the complicity of the British government in the US-Israeli policy of dividing the Palestinians and blockading Gaza.


Which david t interprets.

What do I intend to do to help the Palestinians, ask the SWP members. (Using, incidentally, the only instance of the world ‘fulsome’ on the entire SWP Online site. Fulsome: “unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech”. Well. They really know how to make you want to work with them.)

In UCU? Nothing. I’ll be regarding UCU activists who claim to want to help Palestinians with suspicion for a long time to come. Just can’t seem to envisage myself settling down to business with them. Just seeing certain names in my inbox gives me recoiling pavlovians. They can’t be trusted to deal sensitively with Jewish issues, is the thing. Well, OK, depends what kind of ‘help’ is on the table. Never say never.

In my institution? Will help with initiatives as required (after vetting for the wrong sort of enthusiastically antisemitic kind of stuff which masquerades as ‘helping the Palestinians’ in UCU) and take any opportunity that presents itself. But I think there are more urgent causes for an institution than the Palestinians – most people realise this and I predict that, denied the opportunity for Israel bashing, there’ll be very little in the way of positive initiative from so-called pro-Palestinian activists.

In my personal life? As before but perhaps more intensively.

Is that too fulsome, or not fulsome enough?

Two good things have come out of this ‘debate’ though – I understand Jewish and Arab Israelis’ points of view a lot better and I can spot antisemitism at 50 paces.


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