Today the university and college lecturers’ union UCU passed a motion supporting the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel (158 for, 99 against, 17 abstentions) and a further motion calling for a “moratorium on research and cultural collaborations with Israel”.
Quite apart from the affront to such notions as academic freedom, human solidarity and Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation that the boycott campaign represents, it is also worth noting that motion #30 (“Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions”) contains the following extraordinary statement: “Congress believes that in these circumstances passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic“. Now what the hell is that supposed to mean? That no criticism of Israel can ever, possibly be anti-semitic? Or that not all criticism of Israel is necessarily anti-semitic? It could be read either way, couldn’t it? Which is a bit worrying, coming as it does from university and college lecturers, who might be expected to know a thing or two about writing clear English.
But of course, they also know a thing or two about dissembling, covering their tracks and hiding their true motives. Just like the superficially plausible UCU member Tom Hickey, interviewed on BBC radio today. It was very regrettable, he said, that the union had to even consider the question of a boycott, and all the union had done today, in fact, was to vote for an ongoing discussion about the possibility of a boycott, to be decided once such a discussion had taken place. Very reasonable: until Mr Hickey made it clear that the entire purpose of such a “discussion” was to endorse the boycott. This, it turns out, is the same Mr Hickey who “invited” NATFHE members (immediately before it merged with the AUT to form the UCU last year) “to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those (Israeli academics) who do not publicly disassociate themselves (from Israel’s “apartheid” policies). It is also the same Mr Hickey who was filmed last year giving a talk in front of a screen upon which was displayed a recommended reading list, which included the holocaust-deniar Roger Garoudy’s “The Case of Israel”. Not surpisingly, it turns out that Mr Hickey is a member of that leading purvayor of “left-wing” anti-semitism the “S”WP.
No doubt it is also the “S”WP who are behind a similar bid to commit UNISON, at its conference in June, to support a boycott of Israel.
As David Hirsh of Engage, the left-wing campaign against anti-semitism, comments (refering to the UCU vote): “…this vote demonstrates that we live in dangerous times. The zeitgeist is now such that a representative body of te British intelligensia is prepared to say, in all seriousness and after due consideration, that criticism of Isreal can never be anti-semitic”.
On a positive note, however: whenever the arguments of the boycotters and the “left” anti-semites have been subjected to proper debate amongst rank and file union membership (as they were in the AUT, and are at the moment within the NUJ), they have been resoundingly defeated. That’s what must happen now within the UCU.
As some of you may know, I have recently been subjected to questioning whilst in the Dentist’s Chair of the ever-charming Hak Mao, as part of what may become a regular feature on her blog. One of the questions asked was if I could have three people shot, who would they be?
My initial response at the time was to take the opportunity to off the obnoxious “Barry Scott” from the Cillit Bang commercials. However, I then did a little research, and realised that some people are much, much worse. For instance, I think that slow torture followed by a hail of bullets would be too lenient for the sort of deviant who could make the video below. It features Barry Scott, but as you’ve never seen him before. Be warned, watch at your peril – your life will never be the same again.
I’m off to sit and hug myself, rocking, whilst sobbing silently, in a darkened room…
Some people think I’m some sort of tough guy; but I tell you, I’m a real ol’ softie. Lots of things make me weep - for instance, this 1957 film of Billie Holiday singing with Lester (‘Pres’) Young on tenor sax. Billie and Pres had been very, very close both musically and personally in the late 1930′s: it was virtually a love affair. But by the time this film was made, they’d drifted apart and hadn’t seen each other for some years. On this film, we can hear that Billie’s voice is still wonderful, but ravaged, and Pres staggers out (in an alcohol and/or marijuana haze) from the “all star” band (including Ben Webster, who precedes him on tenor, and Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax), to play a beautifully constructed, but slightly out-of-tune solo. Within a couple of years both Pres and Billie would be dead.
When Pres takes his solo, you can see Billie smiling, shaking her head, and nodding: it’s clearly – at least in part – encouragement, as Pres struggles through his solo; but I believe it’s also an expression of her regret over their lost love, and their failure to consumate it . But whatever: it’s clearly love, in the purest form:
Margaret Hodge may or may not be a racist. But she sure does a good impression of one. Having boosted the prospects of the BNP in her Barking consituency at the last general election, she now states that “even if we were vastly to increase the amount of social housing available, we would still need to ration what will always be a limited resource” (a strange argument that she noticeably fails to explain – surely it depends upon exactly how “vastly” the stock of social housing was increased?), and then goes on to state that “the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants”.
Hodge raises some important issues, but the charge against her -as with Enoch Powell and the “rivers foaming with much blood” speech- is that she is surely intelligent enough to realise that the way she raised the issues, and the language she has used, will inevitably legitimise racism and give aid and comfort to fascists.
This woman is unfit to be in government (she’s presently Industry Minister) or even to be a Labour MP.
John Cruddas, MP for nearby Dagenham, gave Hodge a well-deserved rebuke and put out a welcome call for more council housing. For one brief moment I even considered the possibility that he might just be worth voting for as Deputy Leader…
The best response so far, however, has been from the brilliant Catherine in today’s Graun:
“Not for the first time, Hodge raises a subject that must seem of crucial importance to a large number of unhappily housed, forgotten-feeling families, only to do it so ineptly that their concerns, as represented by her, can readily be dismissed as racist and illegitimate by people whose principal contact with immigrants is leering at Polish girls in Starbucks. And, not for the first time, Hodge gets herself compared with Enoch. It is beginning to look careless”.
How many of us have called “openly called” for the overthrow of capitalism? Well apparently Tariq Ali doesn’t see the irony in his statement about Chavez’s failure to renew a TV licence for the anti-government channel RCTV. By his logic most of the newspapers of the far left could be legitimately closed down in Britain.
The argument for cenorship of alternate points of view being aired within a society via radio and television is Stalinist to the core. In Cuba, Castro has done this for years and gotten away with it in the name of “the revolution”. Yet what was that revolution fought for if not freedom from tyranny? Chavez is following Castro in one of his worst legacies, despite many positive advances which remain due to the Cuban Revolution.
I have always argued for “no platform for fascists” and stand by that argument. However, this isn’t a “fascist” TV station – it simply opposes the government in the strongest terms. That is not a reason for shutting it down. The way to silence such critics is to give them less and less to criticise. In fact this kind of behaviour merely emboldens critics and gains them further adherents.
The response of the left to this development should be watched closely and one can pass their own view on those organisations which support Chavez’s latest move without critical comment.
Is there any way I can vote to say you’re a miserable, grovelling, anti-working class piece of shit?
Steve McCabe MP
House of Commons
London SW1A OA
18 May 2007
I told you a couple of weeks ago that I would be backing Gordon Brown to be the next leader of the Labour Party. I am proud to tell you that I was one of 313 MP’s who nominated Gordon this week.
As Gordon said in his acceptance speech yesterday “the scale of the nominations shows to the country a Party united in its determination not to retreat into the past, but going forward as new labour to address the opportunities and challenges of the future……..for me a new conversation with the country is just beginning.”
I couldn’t agree more.
It would have been good to have an all members meeting to allow you to have your say but I don’t think that is going to be possible. However there is an Executive Committee meeting on May 24 and I would like to demonstrate to them that Gordon Brown has the backing of this constituency.
Please let me have your vote of support for Gordon Brown, return the reply coupon; email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 0121 622 4408, with your name and address. You need to do it quickly so that I have them by 4pm on Thursday 24 May.
I have nominated Hazel Blears for Deputy Leader. I’m a geat admirer of her no nonsense approach to getting things done. She’s coming to Birmingham on Friday 29 May to open the new Allenscroft School and afterwards there will be an opportunity for you to meet her.
So, please join me and Hazel at 5.30pm-7pm, Friday 25 May, the Pavillion, Kings Heath Cricket Club, Alcester Road South.
You will have your chance to hear directly from Hazel and ask her questions.
One of the tragedies of Labour is that we can become so procedure driven that we forget that it’s the members that really count. Gordon’s promised a more open and inclusive politics. Let’s get that off to a great start by ensuring a large ballot return from new Selly oak, add a personal message too and I will make sure that Gordon gets it.
Some may say it’s a done deal or it doesn’t matter but it does. Gordon needs your support. He will be our Prime Minister. Let’s pull together and make sure he gets off to the best possible start.
Steve McCabe MP
( ) Yes, Gordon Brown has my vote for Leader of the Labour Party, pass this on to the Executive Committee
( ) Send me a copy of Gordon’s acceptance speech
——————————————————————————————Please pass this message of support on to Gordon Brown
( ) I would like to meet Hazel Blears on 24 May add my name to the guest list
My vote for Deputy leader will go to
Please return to Steve McCabe MP by 4pm Thursday 24 May
Today’s best search comes from someone who apparently found us by googling the following terms:
Friends in every port, I tell you.