31 May 2007

Springboks? You bet!

The boycott fever consuming the fair island of Albion has erupted again yesterday.

Delegates at the first conference of the new University and College Union in Bournemouth voted by more than three to two to recommend boycotts in protest at Israel's "40-year occupation" of Palestinian land and to condemn the "complicity" of Israeli academics.
There are some strings attached to the boycott resolutions, which will become clear as time goes by.

The 158 UCU members who voted for the motions are by no means a homogeneous group and there were several motivating factors that caused them to vote this way. I am not even trying to suggest anti-Semitism as a main factor, although it is definitely one of them. The problem with this specific subject is that the usual crowd will drag out the usual straw man "Jews always cry anti-Semitism", and the resulting brawl will lead to a dead end.

Of course, sheer ignorance and indifference of the majority made it that much easier for the shrilly group of anti-Israeli lobbyists to pass the resolution. And the best proof of it is the fact that hardly anybody of the pro-boycott crowd ever tried to answer one simple question: why it is Israel that is singled out? And hardly anybody of the indifferent "pro" voters ever asked this question.

But all this is a subject for in-depth analysis of the whole story that will inevitably follow as the dust settles. I would like to focus on an example of a "grass-root" pro-boycott scientist, which example is courteously provided by that linked Guardian article.
During the debate, which lasted well over an hour, Michael Cushman, from the London School of Economics, said: "Universities are to Israel what the springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity."
I don't know from springboks and South Africa (interesting choice of imagery, by the way - kinda indicative of the trend). However, I am also not at all sure that universities are that symbolic. What about, you know, Jerusalem, the Western Wall, Ben Gurion, gefilte fish, "never again" and all this stuff?
Israel wanted to claim it was a normal democratic state and universities were integral to that, Mr Cushman said. "[But] it is not a normal state. They are not normal universities. "Senior academics move from universities into ministries and back again," he said.
Only Mr Cushman knows what is the meaning of the above. How Israel is different from a "normal state" in these movements of academics is a mystery that shall remain unresolved without an investigation, and the question is hardly worth investigating. Anyway, here comes the main point:
"Regularly, lecturers take up their commissions in the Israeli Defence Force as reserve officers to go into the West Bank to dominate, control and shoot the population."
This is really the essence of the primitive black and white vision so typical of the learned discourse one can easily find on the talk-backs and discussion forums of British press. This is the rotten fruit grown in a mix of ignorance, indifference and, in case of Mr Cushman who seems to be Jewish, an ardent desire to distance himself from the bloodthirsty Zionists.

Yes, Mr Cushman, you have succeeded admirably. You shall never be required by your dean to bring several fresh scalps of Palestinians from your reserve service, unlike your less fortunate brethren in Israeli universities. So rest assured that your "not in my name" was heard loud and clear and the next time they come for you, they will see that "Pass Over" sign on your door.

To end this long post, I have found another example of the mind-boggling sloganeering idiocy that shows the depth of analysis a scientist is able to display - when he/she wants to:
Is it unfair to single Israel out? It is not clear that there are other heavily militarised, nuclear-armed, expansionist apartheid states with extensive illegal settlement, land seizure and wall-building activity.

· John Chalcraft is a lecturer on government at the London School of Economics
Now - should we be surprised by the education level of some graduates with teachers like these?


Cross-posted on Yourish.com.