Sunday, April 15, 2007

This report from the Guardian:

The National Union of Journalists has voted at its annual meeting for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year's war in Lebanon.

"The vote on the motion was taken after it was split from a larger motion that condemned the "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel" last year.


This motion, known as Composite B in Order Paper 4, was carried by a large majority and also condemned the "slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the IDF's [Israeli Defense Forces] continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah".

The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories."

In 1966 movie "What's Up, Tiger Lily?", Woody Allen removed the voice track from a Japanese spy movie, and replaced it with one of his own creation. He never even bothered with the original script at all. The result was very entertaining.

The motion of the National Union of Journalists and its provided rationale reads like Allen's adduced script. It has very little to do with the actual events that unfolded last summer, or their conclusions. And the result is not very entertaining. It is actually quite frightening in its insistence on disowning knowledge. It cannot be excused away as merely an interpretation. It is an assault upon historical truth. And it is a new concept in academic scholarship, determining what truth is by a vote; those who voted for the boycott were voting for its moral underpinnings, presented as unquestionably factual and true in the motion's proposal.

This is the third beat in a series of events which have gained prominence in the war against the idea of Israel's legitimacy and survival as a Jewish state and a democracy: The cancelation of the lecture by Keuntzel, the appointment of a self-declared anti-Zionist historical revisionist for a History chair at Exeter University, and now this, from a union of journalists, no less.

As I gaze at this concentration of events from a distance of an ocean, I wonder what's happening to British intelligentia. Haven't these journalists been given a "carte blanche" now to report about and interpret anything concerning Israel and its Arab enemies in light of these "amendments" to the events of last summer as we know them? Here is another example of such guidelines, meant to poison public attitudes towards israel.

The unfolding of the events was recorded by the UNSC, hardly known for its sympathy for Israel.

There is a de-facto symbiosis between what journalists report and interpret and how they are sustained by academic scholarship that provides the ethical support for their interpretations. The two prosessions, journalists and scholars, depend on, validate and feed each other to a certain extent, with journalists practicing what scholars theorize about.

So here we have three events in rapid succession, the silencing of a lecturer whose thesis suggests Islamic culture has fostered a legacy of nazi-type antisemitism, the honouring of a anti-Israeli intellectual whose thesis strays from verifiable history into the fantasy world of a dedicated anti-Zionist, and now a union of journalists boycotting Israeli goods.

There is a mood in British academia, and among its chattering classes, which sustains these decisions, which tolerates tinkering with facts and ethical principles, which easily disregards information that sympathizes with Israelis, and that seeks to criminalize Israel.


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