I imagine you are aware of the AUT proposed boycott against two Israeli universities, which is covered in excellent detail at Engage; I hope I need not state that I am (along with many others) utterly opposed to it. I was a signatory of a letter put out by David Hirsh, an academic who has been instrumental combatting the boycott from a reasoned left perspective. Today I attended a meeting organised by the anti-boycott meeting, which is described in brief below.
I was at the Public meeting against the boycott at University of London today; speakers there seemed confident the boycott would be overturned tomorrow with a fairly large majority. The underlying mood was that this was just one battle in a long war, another front being the motion soon being voted on by NATFHE – in this case for a straight boycott of all links between universities in the United Kingdom and those in Israel. There was also a mood of hope that the real left would shake up the ‘pretend left’ and the groupthink which has led a cartoon rendition of the complexities of the Middle East situation. Many speakers expressed solidarity with Palestinians and condemned current Israeli policy – this was truly no Trojan horse for neocon perspective – and to the extent it was raised, a plurality of opinion on Iraq.
What brought them together was opposition to the snaking, repeated attempts to shove through a discriminatory motion that draws a scar across the face of British academia, impedes the pursuit of knowledge, corrodes the good faith of Jews worldwide for causes of the left, and hurts the very institutions that are working their hardest to improve the sitation on the ground. (Who else are, like the lecturer from Bar Ilan, educating the next generation of civics teachers who will make both Israelis and Palestinian aware of the value of democracy?) Finally, as one attendee put astutely, what could more betray the spirit of a trade union than the endorsement of political tests in order to get jobs? If this boycott were a cheque you’d never get it to the Council floor – it wouldn’t stop bouncing.