In an extraordinary admission, the (British) Socialist Workers Party, leading champions of the campaign for a boycott of all things Israeli, have acknowleged that, given a free vote, rank and file union members would reject a boycott.
The SWP’s supple-spined intellektshul-for-hire Alex Callinicos, says:
“The left faces two problems here (with regard to a membership ballot in UCU -JD). The first is that the boycott is an issue that divides critics of Israel. Even as sterling an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist as Noam Chomsky opposes it.
“The second is that any ballot would be dominated by a well-funded Zionist campaign that would enjoy the overwhelming support of the mass media….
”…The left should refuse to walk into Hunt’s (Sally Hunt, Gen Sec of the UCU – JD) trap. We should make it clear now that we do not intend to propose an actual boycott of any Israeli academic institutions at the next union congress”.
A few straightforward questions to “Comrade” Callinicos;
1/ If even “as sterling an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist as Noam Chomsky” opposes the boycott, how come your organisation and its friends have spent the last decade denouncing opponents of the boycott as “well-funded Zionists”, “pro-imperialists” and various other varieties of foul reactionary?
2/ If you fear losing a membership ballot in UCU, then what has happened to your organisation’s much-vaunted tradition of championing “rank-and-file” democracy within the trade union movement?
3/ If, as you say, comrade, “We should make it clear now that we do not intend to propose an actual boycott of any Israeli academic institutions at the next union congress”, then we who oppose the boycott have a right to ask you: is that self-denying ordinance simply because you’ve calculated that you’ll lose? If so, we presume that your intention is to come back later, once you’ve calculated that you’ll win. So much for the SWP’s and Mr Hickey’s disingenous protestations of ‘we only want a debate’: what they mean is, “we only want a debate that we can win”.
4/ Do you, on mature consideration, stand by your claim that “…any ballot would be dominated by a well-funded Zionist campaign that would enjoy the overwhelming support of the mass media”?
The forces that defeated the previous boycott policy within the old AUT (now part of the UCU), were “Engage” and the Alliance for Workers Liberty: are you suggestiong that either of them are “well-funded Zionist” campiagns, with the “overwhelming support of the media”? You should know that by recycling such utter bollocks, you are recycling anti-semitic stereotypes, and the “socialism of fools”.
Shame on you, Callinicos!
But at least we now have, in writing, your admission that your anti-Israeli “boycott” campaign does not have the support of the likes of Noam Chomsky, nor of most rank and file trade unionists in Britain…and that you fear the result of a rank-and-file ballot…and have had to resort to anti-semitic conspiracy theories in order to defend your position.