It’s now become a ritual, and a worthless one at that: every year the UCU (the University and College Union) national conference passes a motion to boycott Israeli universities and academics; every year the union is told that such a boycott is illegal under anti-discrimination laws, and they back down. The same old routine has just happened again. It’s no longer worrying - now it’s just tiresome. And it does not one iota of good for the Palestinian people.
No doubt most of those voting for the “boycott” resolution, are well-meaning supporters of the Palestinian cause and don’t know that they’re being used by long-standing “left” anti-semites like the SWP, and the likes of Cushman (see below), now turning the UCU into a Jew-free zone (though, of course, it will always allow space for those Jews willing to abase themselves and disavow Zionism and Israel):
May 28, 2009 — David Hirsh
Mike Cushman is one of the leaders of the boycott campaign in UCU. In the past he has pushed antisemitic conspiracy theory. He has defended union members who passed material from David Duke’s website around the union. He has rhetorically employed antisemitic stereotypes. He has been feted by the Iranian state propaganda machine. He has fawned over Hamas.
Now Cushman has provided the following breathless commentary of events at yesterday’s UCU Congress debate:
“It was brilliant. The Zionists bareley showed up. John Pike was totally isolated. On the first vote about invetigsting institutional anti-semitism in UCU he got about 6 votes out of 350.”
“On the key motion there were only two speakers against Pike and a woman from Workers Liberty, when the president asked for other speakers against no-one put their hand up. The vote was on my estimate about 300-30 (we should have asked for a count to rub salt into the wound).”
“What we must remember this was a victory built not just on hard work but even more on 1400 murders in Gaza.”
“Mike, in haste from Bournemouth”
This commentary requires a little bit of unpacking. Two years ago, at the first Congress of the newly merged UCU, there was a big, very tense, very nasty debate about the boycott. Cushman kicked off the ‘debate’ that day by declaring that he was “not going to be intimidated” – and received a huge cheer for it. What he meant, and what Congress understood, was that he was not going to be intimidated by Jewish power. And Congress followed his lead and voted for a boycott, many delegates showing clear signs that they were collectively excited at the feeling that they were standing up to the Jews. Sorry. To the Zionists. This 2007 Congress was a horrible Jew-baiting Congress and it voted for a boycott motion. When somebody stood up and mentioned antisemitism that day he was howled down by the delegates.
The Jew-baiters in UCU had a de facto deal with the union leadership – which was to allow them their fun at Congress but on the condition that the union would not actually do anything at all to implement any boycott.
Two years later, yesterday, the atmosphere was different. There was not much cheering and there was not much howling.
Why? Because there were no Jews left to bait. As Michael Cushman says above, “the Zionists barely showed up”.
The Chair of the Open University Branch showed up to make a case for debating whether to have a ballot. Congress voted him down.
Jon Pike showed up to argue that Congress should ask the union leadership to find out why Jews are resigning from the union. Congress said it didn’t want to find out why Jews are resigning from the union.
Camila Bassi showed up, a member of a small Trotskyist group, she made a brave Trotskyist speech against the boycott. Congress voted her down.
But there were speeches against the boycott available for anyone who wanted them. But there was nobody left to make them.
There were no Jews there to speak against the boycott. “The Zionists barely showed up”.
The soft left faction of union activists, the “reasonablists”, the people who had always said they were against the boycott, remained silent, except for Mary Davis’ procedural question. Perhaps some of them had gone soft on the boycott. Perhaps some of them were frightened of being made into pariahs in the union if they stood up against antisemitism. Not one of them spoke. Not one of them insisted on making their argument.
Michael Cushman is excited by his victory. He hasn’t noticed the significance of the fact that Congress is now free of Jews. Except for Jews like him, the Jews who speak “as a Jew” but who are quite unable to recognize antisemitism. Haim Bresheeth. John Rose. Michael Cushman. These are the Jews now, at UCU Congress.