It is sad that in order to begin such a debate I must affirm that I am not anti-semitic, sad but not surprising. These days the zealots have sought to polarise the moderates into acquiescence with the “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” tactic. It is a clever use of political correctness the way political correctness is often used by the right to avoid debate on questions they wish to sabotage.

I am not a holocaust denialist, unlike many of the fundamental zealots on either the Zionist or Fascist side I have been to Auschwitz and Dachau and seen it all with my own eyes. Having done so I have images in my head which will go with me to the grave. I could not go to Auschwitz again I don’t think. As a committed left-wing activist the evils of nationalism come as no stranger to me and Germany’s quest to promote itself and its cultural model above everything else in the 1930s and 1940s is something of abhorrence. It should provide a beacon as to just what exactly happens when nationalism is allowed to run rampant to its natural conclusion.

And yet to assume that we have learnt from the holocaust is to disregard much of the history of the last 50 years. I am surprised and dismayed that the Israelis were not the most vociferous of critics of the ethnic cleansing perpetrated in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and that Israel did not send its crack troops into Rwanda to prevent the widespread annihilation of the Tutzis. Why is the Simon Wiesenthal centre not now also engaged in hunting down the members of the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi who are still active in lawless parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo? These are war criminals, murderers and ethnic cleansers and yet they remain unencumbered by the Western World. Part of experiencing adversity is the greater understanding it gives you of oppressed groups and what you then do about it. Israel is active in promoting and defending the rights of Jews across the world as one might very well expect it to do, however they are either naive and short-sighted or isolationist and bigoted if they feel that it is enough just to protect their own kind. Would Israel have been more inclined to be involved politically or militarily if the oppressed in Bosnia had been Jewish as opposed to Muslims? Would they be involved in Africa if there was an age-old Jewish community rather than disenfranchised blacks, the lowest of all the global pecking orders?

I am an active member of the UCU, the Union which has been at the centre of recent controversy regarding the motion at recent national congress to debate the pros and cons of a boycott on Israeli academic institutions. Let me make this quite clear it has not been decided whether or not such a boycott ought to take place. Personally I agree with a boycott but that is not the issue. The media reported en masse that the UCU had discussed and agreed such a measure. The Morning Star was in fact the only national daily paper to have correctly reported that the measure was in debate and not a de facto agreed policy.

The motion that has been discussed is that academics from Palestine, of whom many en bloc have called for the boycott question to be upheld, should be invited to speak at UK campuses in favour of the measures they are proposing. Within the framework of such a debate, the Academic Friends Of Israel have also been invited to take part in order that the debate should be as balanced and objective as posible and not merely reflect the traditional line of the left and deny the transparency of an open discussion.

What I particularly object to is the force and rhetoric of the US Zionist activists coming out from under their stones at the merest hint of a discussion and proclaiming that they will seek to put us anti-semites to the sword and drag us through the courts and break the resolve of UK academia.

That the academic freedom of a sovereign nation should be threatened by the political and mainly economic pressure of a single group is alarming enough. It is compounded by the lack of any defence from the self same nation states government. Disappointing but of course by no means surprising. If the Zionists had faith in the validity of their argument then one might expect them to rely on this winning the day in a debate conducted by academics but it cannot really surprise anyone that they choose not to leave this to chance because their argument is weak and does not stand up favourably when pitted against that of the Palestinians.

The United States of course is no stranger to the question of democracy by the ‘our way or the highway’ approach. This question has simply underlined the arrogance at the extent to which certain parts of its establishment wish to forward this policy and the complete faith in their right and ability to do so across the world. Personally when I see the ultra-reactionary big guns come out so forcefully and so quickly I can’t help but think we must be doing something right.

Song Of The Day ~ The Cinematics – Trapped Behind This Face