Congress motion on Palestine and the Occupation
Comment: It is surprising that the title of the resolution does not refer to Israel. This makes the reference of some of its contents unclear - and this is critical. Advocates of dissolving Israel into a single Palestinian state, like Tom Hickey, generally use ‘Palestine’ to refer to the whole area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. The resolution title seems to endorse that view. If ‘Palestine’ refers to the occupied territories, then the resolution makes no reference to civilian casualties in Israel.
Proposed by Tom Hickey, (SWP) seconded by Linda Newman (President of the UCU)
Comment: For Linda Newman’s anti-boycott election platform click here. For more about the twists and turns of SWP policy, click here. The SWP moves with the wind on the boycott issue and the leadership has proved unable to hold its position, articulated by Alex Callinicos, that the boycott is divisive and unpopular. At the moment it is Tom Hickey who is dictating the SWP line, not the Central Committee.
Conference notes the
• Continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
Comment: The killing of which civilians? Those in Gaza only or also those also in Sderot and in Jerusalem? The ambiguous naming of the resolution leaves this unclear. This clause also seeks to muddy the distinction between the deliberate murder of civilians on the one hand and the deaths of civilians which occur as a consequence of military action against military targets, on the other.
• Humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU
Comment: The humanitarian catastrophe is at least in part imposed upon Gaza by Hamas and those who are responsible for rocket attacks on Sderot - who are widely opposed by the people of Gaza.
• Apparent complicity of the Israeli academy;
Comment: What is noting ‘apparent’ complicity supposed to amount to? Appearance is usually contrasted with what is the case (as in Marx’s claim that “if essence and appearance coincided, all science would be superfluous”). Is the ‘apparent’ complicity that we are asked to note, real or not? If not, why are we noting it? If real, why not say so? In fact, of course, the claim is so general – look at the pretentious term ‘the academy’ rather than the naming of any particular institution – that little or no sense can be made of it. In truth, Israeli universities are universities much like any European or American university.
• Criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;
Comment: The ‘as such’ clause does no work. Rather, this formulation aims to do two things: 1) it seeks to burnish the antiracist credentials of those who move the resolution and 2) it seeks to body swerve all the concerns of those in the UCU who are opposed to the exclusion of Israeli academics from the international research community and who believe that such an exclusion would be antisemitic. This exclusion is not 'criticism of Israel'. No-one serious says that criticism of Israel is necessarily antisemitic. This is a repeat of last year’s ‘criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic’ clause which was passed by Congress. If Congress wants to make itself look stupid, and if it wants to look complacent about antisemitism, it should go ahead and vote for this clause.
• Pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;
Comment: Nobody says they are. However, this pompous clause seems to be directed at academic freedom arguments against a boycott, and presents them as claiming that the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences. But academic freedom arguments don’t claim this. Rather, they tend to claim this.
• UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;
Comment: So, testimonies - not facts, not statistics, not analysis, not formal narratives of trade unions in Israel or Palestine?
• The testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued education links with Israeli academic institutions;
Comment: This clause commits the UCU to licensing acts in the UK which break links with Israeli academics and institutions: the clause calls these into question and thereby endorses breaking them. This constitutes encouragement individual acts of 'boycott' along the lines which Mona Baker pioneered in 2002. Mona Baker, remember, claimed that she was acting on her own interpretation of an institutional boycott. This clause leaves the UCU with no defence against the charge that it is encouraging individual (and perhaps secret) acts of discrimination against Israelis. It licenses direct acts by UCU members that are effectively antisemitic. The movers of the resolution doubtless reject this, but we suspect that they have not understood the argument.
It seems likely that this promotion of a wide discussion of effectively antisemitic acts will be widely discussed – through a reference to the Commission on Equality and Human Rights, and in Court. The people responsible for this are the NEC majority and the movers of the resolution.
• UCU facilitate twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;
• Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.
Click here for what Engage said about Ariel College in 2005.
The National Executive Committee's motion for UCU Congress 2008
Added by David Hirsh on March 26, 2008 08:57:56 AM.