Monday, December 11, 2006

"a curtain political stand"

Engage reports a motion passed at Leeds University Student Union (LUU) against the Jewish Society (JSoc) there. The money quote from the motion is right near the end:
This union resolves: "3. To formally advise the LUU Jewish Society that promoting and defending Israel in its activities indicate that JSoc is taking and advocating a curtain [sic] political stand in behalf of the Jewish students on campus. Therefore JSoc is expected to expect and accept having other parties declaring and promoting opposing stands in the University, as long as Judaism as a faith is not offended."
I've read this over again, and can't quite fathom it. Basically, the body of the motion says that JSoc again and again objects to Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG) activities on campus as anti-semitic, but that it should cease to do so unless these activities specifically criticise Jewish religion. No other society or ethnic group is singled out in LUU policy as being ordered to expect criticism.

Sometimes I think that I'm getting hysterical about the current situation, then something like this happens...

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[Added 12 Dec]
Some Engage-niks think the motion is fine (see comments on this post). Which of course illustrates the gap between us nice sensible Engageniks and the kneejerk Israel-lovers. And, on the surface, the motion isn't that objectionable (apart from the fact that university students can't spell the word "certain").

The JSoc response to the PSG "Peace Wall" stunt was disproportionate: there was nothing racist about the PSG action.* The Balfour Declaration incident is different, as it is a bit dodgy to put up a banner saying Balfour gave Palestine "to the Zionist Jews". But the JSoc response was a bit weird too: getting the student union to make them change it to "to the Zionists". (In fact, of course, Balfour declared Palestine a national home for the Jews; he didn't give it to anyone, and certainly not "the Zionists". In other words, the change was a bit of a shot in the foot for JSoc.) So, I kind of don't blame the PSG and its bien-pensant supporters for thinking the JSoc is trying to stop free speach with its false Anti-Zionism=Anti-Semitism equasion.

So, why am I upset at the motion?
(a) I don't like the idea that criticizing religion is wrong, but that criticizing ethnic groups is OK, which is the implication of the motion.
(b) I don't like the way the motion seeks to define the identity of the Jewish students for them, saying that they can be religious and not anything else. As one Engage commentor, says: "If Jewish students believe that Israel is connected to their identities as Jews then that is their business. But now the Leeds Union knows better how to define the identity of Jewish students than the Jewish students themselves."
(c) I don't like the fact that it is now the union's official policy that Apartheid South Africa was a picnic, at least compared to the Occupation of Palestine.
(d) I don't like the idea (contained in the motion's "This union believes" no.2) that complaints about anti-semitism should not be treated seriously.
(e) Most of all, I don't like the idea that the union passed a motion demanding that one socieity, and one society only, the Jewish Society, should expect criticism. Imagine the outcry at a motion saying that, because of the Jack Straw hijab debate, the Islamic society should expect criticism. Of course the JSoc should expect criticism, but to pass a motion saying this, and not telling any other ethnic group to expect it, is racist.

And if you still think I'm overreacting, read the Leeds Palestinian Solidarity Group blog from which the above image links come from, Bonsoir:
it wasn't the PSG committee who achieved this victory, WE DID IT ALL TOGETHER! Yes, it was the fact that we all (PSG, ISoc, Respect, Socialist Workers, Stop the War, PSC, Saudi Society, Omani Society, and many others) worked in unity, shoulder to shoulder, which made this a reality. This is proof that when we join hands together no one can stop us from achieving our noble aims. (source)

Finally this is a message to Leeds University's Zionist J-Soc, to the Zionist UJS, and to all advocates of the racist illegal Zionist regime called "Israel", nothing on earth would stop us from fighting for the Justice and freedom of not only the Palestinian nation (in Palestine and in Diaspora) but also for all victims of the evil Zionist virus anywhere in the world. If you think that Leeds motions are our biggest victory you are very mistaken; this victory is so little for us and we haven't even started yet. If you decide to keep defending and advocating the Devil then don't blame us for being offended every time we expose your beloved Zionists' crimes, because "Israel" itself is the biggest offence to humanity. (source)
*UPDATE: Please read the comment box for a clarification, by a Jewish student at Leeds



(Previous: Atzmon in Scotland)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You write in the above blog:
"The JSoc response to the PSG "Peace Wall" stunt was disproportionate: there was nothing racist about the PSG action."

I'm a member of the Leeds JSOC and i think you have the wrong end of the stick here. The "Peace Wall" was OUR stunt! We erected it on the opposite side of the road to the PSG's stand. It's purpose was to contrast that we (JSOC) are interested in a peaceful two state solution. Whereas they (the PSG) constantly try to de-ligitimise, in the minds of students, Israel's right to exist.

If you look back at akram awad's blog (bonsoir) you'll actually see the comment under the picture says "This is JSoc's "Wall 4 Peace". Cool, isn't it?!"

It might also interest you to note that akram (second to the right, behind the desk, wearing a kafir, in this picture http://static.flickr.com/122/301134803_3932d5e3fd.jpg) is the event organiser for the psg and the one who proposed and organised the motions that were passed.

With regards to jsoc's reaction to their wall - It was actually a previous year's mock security barrier they put up that we complained about. I wasn't involved in the jsoc so much back then (i had just started uni), but from what i remember it reffered to Israel as racist and apartheid and the uni made them remove those two words. I was at a union council meeting last semester where akram claimed it cost £150 to repaint the wall!
well either way, we're (myself and other jews on campus) are not happy about the direction things are taking at our uni.
I'd appreciate it if you'd edit the blog re. the 'peace wall' thing. Thanks.