Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Flexing some legal muscle:
British Academics take up a notch their battle against the antisemitic boycotting movement

Normblog posted this letter, redacted by Mishcon de Reya, Solicitors, addressed to Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary. Here is an excerpt, explaining why Motion 25 is essentially and to all intents and purposes, antisemitic:

Motion 25 is anti-Semitic because it is, in combination:

(i) Irrational, that is:

(a) It does not flow from any general principle, given general application. On the contrary. It is no different in character to a motion that resolved to boycott all Jewish-owned businesses considered delinquent, but no other businesses, though similarly or more delinquent. Its promoters could not give a non-anti-Semitic answer to the question: why just those businesses?

(b) It is contrary to the equality principles that the UCU itself embraces, and which it constitutionally binds itself to promote.

(c) It is incoherent on its face. The merely "apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy" cannot furnish the justification for any sanction by the union. What is "apparent" may not be real. In addition, the "complicity" identified by the Motion is not related to any specified vice. It is enough, it would seem, for the promoters and supporters of the Motion that Israeli academics are "apparently" complicit in some or all of the things that the Motion lists in its opening section. This should not, however, be enough for any rational or fairminded person.

(ii) Continuous with episodes in anti-Semitism's history, that is, in

(a) Its completely false claim that attempts were made "to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions," which rehearses the anti-Semitic trope that Jews endeavour to stifle free expression in pursuit of their own nefarious interests.

(b) Its stipulation that Jews ("Israeli colleagues") submit to questioning on their views as a precondition to continued collaboration with UCU members, which revives the anti-Semitic programme that what others may enjoy as of right, Jews must work for.

(c) Its conceptualising of the Israel/Palestine conflict as a melodrama (pure villain confronting pure victim), which reproduces the anti-Semitic scenario of wicked Jews preying upon defenceless and innocent gentiles.

(d) Its proposed boycott of Jews, which has been a staple of anti-Semitic programmes for at least 800 years. Indeed, the history of anti-Semitism is in substantial part the history of boycotts of Jews.

(iii) Frivolous (both intellectually and morally), that is, it is

(a) Indifferent to the pain it will cause Jewish members.

(b) Indifferent to anti-Semitism, by implication treating the charge of anti-Semitism as made in bad faith.

(c) Indifferent to the anti-Semitism it will foster.

(d) Dismissive of the possibility that some "criticism" of Israel may indeed be anti-Semitic, and fails to consider whether its own proposals fall within that category.

(e) Ignorant of/indifferent to the impact of a boycott campaign on Israeli society, and/or Palestinian society and/or research projects currently being undertaken by UCU members.

Signing the letter is Anthony Julius:

Anthony Julius (born 1956) is a prominent British lawyer and academic, best known for his actions on behalf of Diana, Princess of Wales and Deborah Lipstadt. He is a senior consultant for the London law firm Mishcon de Reya.

Julius is known for his opposition to new antisemitism, the expression of antisemitic prejudice couched in terms of criticism of Israel, and gives frequent talks on the subject all over the world to raise awareness.[1] He is a founding member of both Engage and the Euston Manifesto.



Shalom Lappin explains what it means to live in a hostile environment.

Boycotted British Academic's blog is a long, lone, anguished personal record of one academic's life dealing with the war of attrition waged by the boycotting academics:

Not only am I stuck in a time warp, it seems the moment has been frozen in the absurd, where even academics can't make the most essential and, you'd have thought, basic of distinctions between demonization and scapegoating, on the one hand; and legitimate criticism, on the other. And not only that, in doing so, they then even want to make us think that a boycott is not a boycott. And that the sort of hate-fest on display in the hydra comments is debate. The swamp is overtaken with absurdity, on top of every thing else.


At 11:10 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the appreciation, Noga, it means a lot...


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