"...in May 2010 then-First Minister Alex Salmond rightly attacked the idea that Scottish Jews "should be judged or affected by the policies of Israel. The Jewish community is not liable for those policies”. It is therefore troubling that the Lord Advocate has now accepted the Zionist claim that the Israel State represents in some way Scottish Jews. Having officially endorsed this central tenet of Zionism, the Lord Advocate’s office cannot now offer justice to the victims of Zionism, the Scottish-Palestinian community, nor to political opponents of Zionism".

Today (12 Oct 16) in GlasgoSPSC 4 0 Zionistsw Sheriff Court charges that SPSC members Jim Watson and I have faced for the last 25 months, including aggravated trespass and racial aggravation arising out of BDS campaigning in Braehead Shopping Centre were deserted due to the presiding Sheriff’s illness.

That now means that four vicious legal attacks over eight years on SPSC members have failed (with two feeble efforts outstanding ). Ally Coutts in Aberdeen is still charged with saying ‘Viva Palestina’ within earshot of an Israeli Dae Sea cosmetics stall that was selling goods made from materials pillaged from occupied Palestinian land. Four members who protested inside Barclays Argyle Street, Glasgow Branch against investments in arms companies face charges of aggravated tresspass that would seem to have little chance of succeeding.

It remains to be seen whether a senior legal official, called a Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, will raise fresh "racism" charges within the next two months but the fact is that Jim and I currently have no racism charges that require to be disclosed. No charges mean bail conditions fall.

Disturbingly, FoI (freedom of information) requests from SPSC to the Procurator Fiscal offices reveal an overly-cosy relationship between legal officers in Scotland and pro-Israel lobbyists. The Israeli Embassy successfully sought a meeting with Scotland’s most senior legal official, the Lord Advocate, and legal experts of the Apartheid State to discuss “Jewish relationships in Scotland” and the “Israeli and Scottish prosecutorial systems”.

It is not clear why the Lord Advocate would meet with the diplomats of a foreign state to discuss issues affecting a Scottish community nor how Scottish legal experts could learn from experts running an openly racist legal system.

It’s one thing for Polish, Chinese or Israeli diplomats to meet Scottish officials to discuss the Polish, Chinese or Israeli communities living in Scotland but in May 2010 then-First Minister Alex Salmond rightly attacked the idea that Scottish Jews "should be judged or affected by the policies of Israel. The Jewish community is not liable for those policies”. It is therefore troubling that the Lord Advocate has now accepted the partisan Zionist claim that the Israel State represents in some way Scottish Jews. Having officially endorsed this central tenet of Zionism, the Lord Advocate’s office cannot now offer justice to the victims of Zionism, the Scottish-Palestinian community, nor to political opponents of Zionism.

At stake is our right to campaign peacefully for boycott against the genocidal State of Israel, a right the Westminster Government has openly said it will try to revoke, building of previous efforts by PM Gordon Brown. The trials of SPSC members past, ongoing and future are our contribution to the worldwide campaign for BDS and the lavishly financed worldwide campaign against BDS being waged by the Israeli Government with, possibly, support from the Lord Advocate on behalf of the Scottish Government.

For the record:

  • Between 2008 and 2010 five members of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign went through an extended legal process before Sheriff John Scott dismissed with ridicule the charge that saying the words “End the siege of Gaza! Genocide in Gaza!” was racist. Two years and a lot of effort and solver were spent to see off this absurdity.
  • In 2011 police were forced to publicly apologise to SPSC member Mick Napier for illegal arrest, assault and attempted cover up while pretending to investigate a related complaint. The illegal police assault arose when a dozen or so SPSC members bought tickets on an open-top Edinburgh city tour bus and draped a banner reading ‘End the siege of Gaza’ over the side while travelling around the city centre.
  • In 2016, fit-up charges for alleged “assault” collapsed at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court after two members of the Zionist CST (Community Security Trust) gave evidence against Mick Napier. A fierce-looking Sheriff Watson viewed some TV footage of the area during the alleged assault and quickly threw out the charges, ruling that clearly no assault had taken place. The charges had been laid three months after the 2014 day-long protest against the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund) in a remote shooting range in Ayrshire. The annual protests finally succeeded in 2014 in getting these annual fundraisers cancelled. The Zionist CSTs aim was to get a conviction for assault on some technicality; one witness was reduced to claiming there had been a “a bit more than a nudge” inflicted upon him.
    Had a guilty verdict been achieved however, the CST and their allies would have run with headlines of “Palestine solidarity activist thug attacked two Jewish men”, frequently recycled by their allies.

It is an axiom of political Zionism that Jews cannot live safely anywhere outside Israel and those who do so are inferior to those who emigrate to Israel (olim) to take part in the Zionist project of dispossession of the native Palestinian people. The original European project to colonise Palestine makes no sense unless one accepts as axiomatic, i.e. so obviously true as to require no need for any proof, the notion that Jews cannot live safely among non-Jews. Zionist assertions, thus, often need no proof in the eyes of their authors.

Below is an Israeli Zionist analysis of Scotland on the eve of the referendum, which well qualifies as one more 'Project Fear' aimed at Scottish Jewish citizens, not merely asking them to vote No, but to prepare to emigrate for fear of their fellow ctizens.

Scottish Rabbi with official Jewish kosher tartanMost Scottish Jews, however, seem to enjoy life in Scotland. Scottish Rabbi Mendel Jacobs, who commissioned Scotland's official kosher Jewish tartan, notes that 

"The Jewish people have been an integral part of Scottish Culture for more than 300 years, with the first Jew recorded in Edinburgh in 1691. In Scotland, the Jews were never persecuted and there were no pogroms, no Holocaust, no national or state sponsored antisemitic laws. When England was burning and exiling its Jews in the Middle Ages, Scotland provided a safe haven from English and European anti-Semitism."

Anti-Zionism is a duty; anti-semitism is a species of racism as ugly as islamophobia and equally deserving of condemnation.

The Times of Israel conflates - of course - opposition to apartheid Israel and hatred of Scottish Jews. The author damns the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister, Church of Scotland, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and much else before picking on us: "The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is particularly active and displays a fanatical hatred of Israel and by implication, Jewish self-determination."  We accept the "particularly active" as a compliment, but argue that our hostility to apartheid Israel is based on generally accepted notions of human rights for all citizens of a country.

For the record, Scottish PSC opposes "Jewish self-determination", as well as Catholic, Mormon, Muslim and Jehovah's Witnesses "self-determination". We are happy to be hated by those who support the massacre and dispossession of Palestinians. It seems, from the account of the Times of Israel, that we are in very broad company.

Scottish PSC urges Scottish Jews to remain in Scotland as equal citizens in a generally tolerant society, rather than emigrate to apartheid Israel and support a state committing genocide against the native people of Palestine. We wish to alert all Scots to the sinister, never-ending effort by political Zionists to implicate Scottish Jews in the crimes of the state of Israel. Just as most British citizens felt the need to tell the world that the massacres and mayhem committed by Tony Blair (aided by Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy) were committed "not in our name", a similar danger confronts those on whose behalf the Israeli State claims it carries out its barbarous acts.  This writer has two passports; two states claim to be committing gross war crimes in my name. Jewish citizens of the UK are in a similar situation.

The article below should be read together with opposing reports and analyses:
Scotland: 'little or no antisemitism' is coupled with 'rise of anti-Zionist political activity'
Scottish Council firm against demented Zionist hysteria

Mick Napier
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
West Calder 11 September 2014

=======================


SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: GOOD OR BAD FOR THE JEWS?
by Brian Fink
Times of Israel 8 September 2014

...Fast forward now to 1997 when the then Labour government included plans for a devolved Scottish assembly, which came into being in May 1999. After the Scottish National Party became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament and later won an overall majority, pressure for a full independence referendum became irresistible.

Scotland avoided the anti-semitism of other countriesWhere does this leave the Scottish Jewish community? There are an estimated 6,000-7,000 Jews in Scotland, mainly located in Glasgow with smaller communities in Edinburgh and Dundee and small pockets scattered around the country. Historically Jews have not been oppressed in Scotland but there is palpably much animosity to them north of the border. This is sometimes disguised as anti-Zionism but often without even this fig-leaf. Operation 'Protective Edge' this summer stripped away any pretense that this antagonism was merely directed at Israel and not at Jews per se. In the first week of August, more anti-Semitic incidents were recorded than in the whole of the previous year. Insulting graffiti on synagogues, verbal and written threats, incitement to violence, open hostility to Jews in universities, trade unions and town and city councils (some of which have flown the Palestinian flag) are everyday events and are making life difficult for Jewish Scots. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is particularly active and displays a fanatical hatred of Israel and by implication, Jewish self-determination.

Yvonne Ridley, a former reporter captured by Jihads and 'turned' by them to their cause, tweeted that she wanted a 'Zionist-free Scotland' As many, if not most, of the community support Israel's existence, this implies a Jew-free Scotland. The Scottish Parliament itself has debated more anti-Israel motions than against all other countries combined despite the horrendous slaughters all over the Muslim World. Alex Salmond, who stands to become an independent Scotland's first Prime Minister has variously called Israel 'not a normal state' and 'a criminal state' and one 'which should be subject to sanctions.' An independent MSP, Jean Urquhart on her website denounces 'Israel's genocide of the Palestinian People' while four local councils have publicly said they will boycott all Israeli goods. The Church of Scotland issued a document denying any Jewish claim to the Holy Land although this was partly ameliorated after a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community. Scot, George Galloway who is notorious for his anti-Israel obsession and is one of Bradford's MPs, said that no Israelis should be tolerated in that city. The Scottish Human Rights Commission has issued seven statements condemning countries, six of those were against Israel. These are just a few examples of the unhealthy and manic obsession that Scots have with the Jewish state and which is directed at no other country, no matter how evil.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities in August this year issued a statement calling on public bodies to recognize the growing number of incidents of antisemitism in the country. Should the Scots vote for independence and the restraining hand of Westminster be removed, one wonders how long it might be before motions to ban schechita (kosher animal slaughter) and brit milah are debated in the Scottish Parliament. This has already happened in some European states and is a 'respectable' way to make life difficult for Jews.

Would Scottish Jews be required to swear an oath of non-allegiance to Israel? Would an Israeli ambassador be even allowed into Edinburgh? These hypotheses may seem fanciful but given the climate of hostility, I suspect not. There's an old, wry joke about a Jew who receives a telegram (these days it would have to be a text message, email or Tweet) from a relative which says "start worrying- details to follow". Scottish Jews, I'm sure are worried, very worried. As always, and as reaction to this summer's events in Gaza has thrown into sharp relief, prudent Diaspora Jews need to keep a bag packed at all times.
Full article Scottish independence: Good or bad for the Jews? by Brian Fink, Times of Israel

 

Article in the Guardian, Scottish antisemitism row is divisive 
 

The row reported in the Guardian is highly significant. The row it refers to is linked to the long-term campaigning work of the Scottish PSC, and successfully dealing with the Zionist counter-attack, which predictably was nothing more than a consciously fabricated series of accusations of 'anti-Semitism'.

Two unambiguous legal victories have been secured against the insidious version of events propagated by SCoJeC (Scottish Council of Jewish Communities) that Scotland faces rising anti-Semitism, linked either directly to the activities of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, or the wider pro-Palestine sentiment as obvious in Scotland as it is around the world.
 
The Zionist claim derives directly from the fundamental axiom of Zionism that Europeans are irredeemably anti-Semitic and, hence, European Jews have to leave Europe.  In the words of political Zionism's founding father, Herzl, in 1895:
"I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism."

Without this initial false assumption, the Zionist next step to colonise an area outside Europe makes no sense. Thus there is no need to SCoJeC had to pulp 6,000 copies of their libellous first versionsmash up anyone obstructing the Zionist project of building a Jewish state - Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, and others.

These issues are world-wide, but in Scotland recently a Zionist organisation had to pulp 6,000 copies of one of their publications , the first edition of Scotland's Jews, that claimed that SPSC is anti-Semitic. This followed legal action from Scottish PSC.

To this bitter taste in the mouths of the premier Scottish Zionist advocacy group, SCoJeC, was then added the ‘SPSC 5’ high-profile court victory, which further weakened their core strategy for dealing with Palestine solidarity by smearing it as ‘anti-Semitism’. The Sheriff derided the claim that the actions of the Scottish PSC were in any way anti-Semitic. The smear-mongers now face a significant legal barrier in propagating their fundamental political strategy.

These two legal successes taken together were bound to force a re-think among Zionist circles in Scotland.

Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, also waded in recently to take the last of this ‘anti-Semitism’ wind out of SCoJeC’s sails by, in effect, insisting they separate off Scottish Jewish issues from advocacy for the State of Israel.

The Zionist fabrication of a vicious rise in anti-Semitism in Scotland is clearly alarming many Scottish Jews, who see it as a dangerous ploy, a self-fulfilling prophecy that could actually bring about communal strife.

Political Zionists, please note, have no interest in opposing communal strife around the world – indeed they might hope to benefit from it by increased emigration to Israel - but it is now clear that Jews feel very welcome where they are, thank you, and have no wish to flag up a quite non-existent wave of anti-Semitism.

Scottish PSC and other human rights campaigners, as well as the Scottish Government, oppose all racism from any quarter. We wish the Jewish community in Scotland a long and prosperous future.  Why leave a tolerant, welcoming society (with the usual small element of bigots found everywhere) and emigrate to Israel to violate Palestinians and incur the rising wrath of world opinion thoroughly sick and fed up with Israel's never-ending criminality? 

Why is this issue important and why do we need to continue to engage with such matters? Because
1. Palestine campaigners need to be consistently anti-racist in opposing an apartheid State. As with anti-apartheid South Africans, we fight to end a racist system, not to oppose any group of people other than the criminals who support the violation of Palestinian human and national rights.
2. we need to counter the lies of our political Zionist opponents to build a more effective campaign of solidarity with the beleaguered people of Palestine.

Mick Napier
SPSC June 15th, 2010
 

Does Scotland manage to be anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic?
Anshel Pfeffer in Glasgow 
Haaretz   2 November 2012

  • No one I spoke to there seems to have ever personally experienced anti-Jewish bias...
  • Similar boycott efforts also occur in England, there is a consensus that "it's worse in Scotland."
  • An Israeli diplomat says, "Every appearance by an official Israeli representative in Scotland is like a visit to enemy territory."
  • Every scheduled event in Scotland involving an official or even semi-official Israeli figure will be disrupted by demonstrators.
  • SPSC "We have a record of not tolerating any species of racism and anti-Semitism"
  • Scots with a political conscience are usually pro-Palestinian.
  • It's getting more and more difficult to be supportive of Israel, especially since two of my sons moved there. I just can't understand why they [Israel] do those things."


...How prevalent is anti-Semitism in Scotland? In a country where the official census records only 6,580 Jews - though the real number is probably somewhere around 10,000 - it is hard to gauge the scale of racism against the community, especially since no one I spoke to there seems to have ever personally experienced anti-Jewish bias...

There is a proud radical left-wing tradition in Scottish politics and public life...This previously included the anti-apartheid struggle and, in Anti-Israeli crimes, possibly even anti-Zionistmore recent years, the Palestinian issue.

...it seems that feeling among locals regarding Israel is much more negative than south of the border in England.(1) The BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions ) movement calling for a ban on anything Israel-related is particularly prevalent in Glasgow. In the city center there are weekly demonstrations outside branches of the Waitrose and Marks & Spencer chains, calling upon shoppers to boycott them until they stop selling Israeli products.

In Edinburgh, pro-Palestinian campaigners have lobbied the city council not to hire French utility company Veolia, due to its work on the Jerusalem light rail system. And while similar boycott efforts also occur in England, there is a consensus that "it's worse in Scotland."

As one Israeli diplomat says, "Every appearance by an official Israeli representative in Scotland is like a visit to enemy territory." The diplomat may have been exaggerating, but not by much. Every scheduled event in Scotland involving an official or even semi-official Israeli figure will be disrupted by demonstrators.

This was demonstrated very clearly in February 2011, when Israeli diplomat Ishmael Khaldi was invited to speak by the University of Edinburgh's Jewish society. As he began to speak, dozens of activists from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC ) stormed in, pulled down the podium and prevented him from uttering a word. Khaldi, a Bedouin, was called a Nazi(3) by the protesters and, for over an hour, was not allowed to continue and eventually left without speaking...

The head of SPSC, Mick Napier, said..."We have a record of not tolerating any species of racism and anti-Semitism. We work very hard to distinguish between them and it is our opponents who seek to conflate the two issues. A national flag is a political symbol and an Israeli flag is provocation to people who see it as a symbol of a terrorist state."

Khaldi came to Edinburgh to promote his master Lieberman's defence of massacre and ethnic cleansingScots with a political conscience are usually pro-Palestinian. Dundee's council voted to twin itself with Nablus as far back as 1980, and some members of the community remember anti-Israeli graffiti on the local synagogue around that time. In 2007 Glasgow was paired up with Bethlehem, but there are no similar relations with Israeli cities.

Anti-Israel motions and initiatives will usually be sponsored by a member of the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party. Unlike other major British parties, the SNP does not have a "Friends of Israel" association. "It's the left-wing tradition but also the fact that the Muslim community here is much larger than the Jewish one, and SNP politicians are pandering for votes," says one Jewish activist...

The SPSC is considered provocative(4) even by its English counterparts. Among the group's stunts is the annual event it holds to commemorate the Holocaust with Hamas supporters(5) speaking of Palestinian suffering. But SPSC head Napier insists: "We keep anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism strictly apart. Scots have always been very friendly to Jews."

Life isn't simple for Scottish Zionists, either. "We were always very strong Zionist left-wingers here," says Mervyn Lovat, a lecturer at Glasgow Business School, "but it's getting more and more difficult to be supportive of Israel, especially since two of my sons moved there. I just can't understand why they [Israel] do those things."

Says Nick Black, a member of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council: "You have to support Israel, whatever it does, because if you criticize here in Scotland, there will be those who exploit what you say."

ExtraExtreme right - anti-Semitic and pro-Israelcted from a substantial article in Haaretz 2 November 2012

SPSC Notes

(1) There is no evidence for this.  On the contrary, popular opinion in every country in Europe is hostile to Israeli behaviour.This is consistent around the planet and over time.  There is nothing exceptional about Scottish public opinion - Dundee is much like Doncaster.

(2) The protest was organised by Students for Justice for Palestine, supported by Scottish PSC members.

(3) It was actually Khaldi's boss, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who was labelled a Nazi.  One defender of Israel at the protest disputed the 'Nazi' label and claimed that Lieberman was 'just a racist'.

(4) SPSC would dispute whether foursquare defence of human rights and opposition to ethic cleansing is in any way 'provocative'.

(5) Not 'stunts; -  we also host many types of speaker, including an Auschwitz survivor who was censored by the official Holocaust Memorial Day authorities

 

 

 

 

Tom Hickey is a Principle Lecturer in Aesthetics and Political Economy at the University of Brighton and member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) that was established 5 years ago by Professors Hilary and Steven Rose.

Tom is also an elected member of the National Executive Committee of the University and Colleges Union (the UCU) which represents university and college teachers in the UK. With 120,000 members, the UCU is the biggest tertiary education union in the world. 

After four years of debate at its annual congresses, the UCU Congress this year voted overwhelmingly in favour of the policy of boycott, disinvestment and sanctions, and decided to hold an international trade union conference this December to discuss how to advance this policy.

speaking at ISM France conference, 30 June 2009 

A supposedly anti-Semitic cartoon according to Scottish Zionists
What Butler was writing about in 2004 was Israeli policy and its criticism, and of Zionism and the criticism of it, particularly in relation to the charge of anti-Semitism that any such criticism ritually provokes. The challenge that this raises is dual: firstly, what kinds of ideas and positions can be permitted in public space; and secondly, how is it that ‘public space’ is so defined by exclusions from it, and the patterns of censoriousness (if not censorship) that operates within it?

One such public space is the Academy.

In the academy today we are facing a series of major challenges to academic freedom. The first set of these are most obviously political.

In the UK, we have recently witnessed the incarceration of a PhD student for downloading part of the Al-Quaida manual – despite the fact that the student was researching terrorism, was following his supervisor’s advice, and was downloading it from the US State Department website. We have witnessed anti-terrorist swoops on university campuses to arrest suspects who are then never charged with an offence but are immediately deported from the country.

As tutors, we are now being pressurized to report suspicions about colleagues and the attendance records of overseas students, thus transforming academic staff into extensions of the border police and immigration officers. Finally, in the UK as in France, we are facing the creep of the new confessional racism in the form of attempts to ban the burka and the veil.

Yet we also face a series of difficult questions in relation to the idea of academic freedom and the governance of the academy:
• to whom is such freedom to be extended;
• what is the ambit of that freedom;
• what is to be done if the principle of universality that underpins it is undermined by the very exercise of that freedom in practice?

All of these questions are sharply condensed by the debate over proposals to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

But first let me return to Butler. Her concern in the article is the way in which the charge of anti-Semitism is used to silence all criticism of Israel – whether of Israeli policies, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, its treatment of the people of the occupied territories, its treatment of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, and, of course, any more general criticism of the Zionist project. All and any such criticism provokes the charge.

Anti-Semitism! No label, she observes, could be worse for a Jew. But her remark could be extended: ‘No accusation could be worse or more hurtful for an anti-racist and an anti-fascist whether she be a liberal or a socialist.’ The motivation for the criticism of Israel is, of course, exactly the reverse of that implied by the accusation. Such criticism emerges precisely from the ethos that is derived from historical sensitivity to the Nazi Judeocide.

That ethos, that historical lesson of European fascism is that silence in the face of oppression is complicity with that oppression. Not to speak out is to become a collaborator with illegitimate and violent power. That is the relevant ethos for every Jew who carries the legacy of the Shoa as part of their identity. It is the ethos for every anti-racist for whom the Holocaust was one of the outcomes of a failure to prevent the rise of Nazism to power.

The charge of Anti-Semitism, however, is used to quell public criticism. It is used to suppress that ethos. The confusion and conflation of criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews serves a double function: it tends to silence critics who may be understandably reluctant to be tarnished with that label; and it renders the criticism of Israel literally ‘unhearable’ by most Israelis and supporters of Israel. The criticisms are audible to them but are not admitted to significant discourse – they are ‘unhearable’. The criticism is effectively obscured by the presumption of racial malice.

In the UCU, we have faced all of these accusations, and we have resisted them. We have striven to focus our attention on two things. First, was the plight of the Palestinians in the illegally occupied territories, and the systematic denial to them not only of any vestige of academic freedom but even anything resembling a normal education. We described the Israeli-only network of roads that has discontiguated the West Bank, the apartheid wall, the destruction of Palestinian agriculture, the growth of illegal settlements, the discriminatory abduction of Palestinian water, and the check-points designed to render daily life unbearable.

Second, was the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in the maintenance and extension of the occupation. We focused on the role of jurists and anthropologists in legitimizing the occupation, the role of engineers and AI specialist in designing the drones and missiles, the role of psychologist and medics in designing torture regimes and collective punishments, and of philosophers in providing rationalizations. We documented the variety of research and educational activity conducted by Israeli universities on illegally occupied Palestinian land.

Signally, no Israeli academic institution, and no department, and no disciplinary grouping of scholars has ever condemned the occupation or distanced themselves from it. Israeli academic institutions are thus both active participants in the occupation, and silent, and hence collusive, witnesses of it. Moreover, the work of sociologists and historians, with only the rare exceptions, contributes to the extension of the founding myth of the Israeli state: ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’. If that myth conveniently eradicated the Palestinian people, the practice continues today in the form of the continuing attempt to extirpate a whole people – not an attempt physically to annihilate them but rather to deny the existence of their culture and their history; to disappear them from history.

In these circumstances, we concluded, it was the moral and political duty of concerned academics everywhere to boycott those Israeli institutions that fail to terminate their military contracts, and that fail publicly to condemn the occupation and to dissociate themselves from it.

That takes us to the heart of the issue of academic freedom. If there exists this complicity of Israeli academic institutions, is the academic freedom of Israeli scholars to be preserved at the expense of the academic freedom (or even the freedom to study and to teach) of the Palestinians? Is academic freedom truly a principle to be applied universally? If so, what is one to do if its pursuance by one people constitutes its denial to another?

This paralysis only descends on us, however, if academic freedom, as a universal principle, is taken to be absolute. But no such principles are ever absolute. A society or community or institution may be committed to free speech - but not absolutely committed. It is not thereby committed to allowing ‘hate speech’. A society may be committed to freedom of belief and association, and thus opposed to bans on political parties, however odious their policies, but that does not prevent such a society from declaring membership of some organizations (fascist and racist organizations, for example) to be incompatible with work in some occupations (teaching, medicine, the police, social care, etc.).

So too with academic freedom. Only in exceptional circumstances should that principle be infringed. Those circumstances are where general ethical and political considerations must take precedence over academic considerations. The case of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and the complicity of Israeli institutions in that treatment is such a case.

The boycott of Israeli academic institutions is thus a moral duty rather than a moral offence. It is not a boycott aimed at individual Israeli academic colleagues – even if they personally support the occupation. It is targeted at the institutions that are systematically engaged in the support of the occupation. It is not targeted at individuals because part of the purpose is precisely to engage Isreali colleagues in debate, and to encourage them to speak out against what is being done in their name, and by the institutions for which they work.

The boycott is not aimed at any particular outcome – a one-state or a two-state solution. That is a matter for Palestinians and Israelis themselves. The imposition of such external requirements is, after all, part of the historical problem. Had not the maintenance of the Israeli state been in the interests of Western Imperialism, it would not have received the enormous financial and military support on which its continued existence since 1948 has required. External influences that attempt to dictate outcomes, even if in a different register, are unlikely to be helpful.

These are the reasons why even some Israeli scholars are now speaking out in favour of the boycott. It is why the Canadian intellectual and activist, Naomi Klein spoke in favour of it last week when she launched her latest book (published in both Arabic and Hebrew) in the West Bank villare of Bil’in. “Boycott is a tactic”, she said. “we’re trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa.” That is why the campaign is now also developing around the cultural boycott of Israel – the recent success of Ken Loach at the Edinburgh Film Festival, the campaign against the Lenoard Cohen concert tour that is scheduled to visit Tel Aviv, and the campaign mounted by John Berger and other in the arts.

That is why we in the UCU are organizing a conference this coming December in London for all trade unionists committed to BDS in the academiy and in the arts and sciences, and in commerce. It will be an attempt to build a worldwide movement for justice for the Palestinians. We hope that you will attend and that you will participate.

Read talk by Mary Senior, Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)

View video report of conference

Source: ISM France

 

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