Tuesday, January 30, 2007


This year, my trade union, UCU, will once again debate an academic boycott of Israel. A trade union which has no consistent international policy, which does not condemn abuses of academic freedom in Iran or Saudi Arabia or Cuba or countless other places, contains a sizeable number of activists who think that the best way to deal with the Middle East crisis is ostracising Israeli lecturers. Is this because Israel is the most evil nation in the world? Or is it perhaps that hatred of Zionism has utterly skewed the moral compass of its membership?

Leading the fight against this is Engage, a collective of left-wing union activists who understand that boycotting Israel would be counter-productive to peace in Israel/Palestine, would be racist in practice, and would be a violation of democratic values.

David Hirsh, Engage's editor, has been interviewed in the Independent, a good introduction to Engage's political position. His excellent letter to the Jewish Chronicle further stakes out this position: against both the hysterical Zionism of some of the Jewish communal leadership and the hysterical anti-Zionism of that leadership's official opposition.

Enage's letter to the union leadership is here, and further discussed by Eve Garrard at Normblog.


1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

It looks like boycotting Israel (or, at least, discussing it) will displace cricket soon.

Oops! Sorry, it is because of too much Norm lately ;-)