Friday, June 01, 2007

Lecturers' union condemns Israel

The UCU Congress yesterday passed 2 resolutions:


Boycott of Israeli academic institutions
This requires the Union to

circulate of the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches
encourage members to consider the moral implications of links with Israeli universities
organise a UK campus tour for Palestinian academic trade unionists
issue guidance to members on appropriate forms of action
actively encourage branches to create direct educational links with Palestinian educational institutions including nationally sponsored programmes for teacher exchanges etc.


European Union and Israel
This requires the Union to campaign for:

The restoration of all international aid to the PA and all its rightful revenues
No upgrade of Israel’s status with the EU while the occupation and human rights abuses continue
A moratorium on research and cultural collaborations with Israel via EU and European Science Foundation funding until Israel abides by UN resolutions


The Morning Star has the following report of the debate:

DANIEL COYSH writes:>.

DELEGATES at the newly formed university and lecturers' union defied their national executive on Wednesday evening and voted for a nationwide debate on whether to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The debate on whether to hold a debate had always promised to be one of the more controversial aspects of the inaugural UCU congress and the hall was packed with speakers, delegates, observers and hacks, hungry for a juicy row.

In the event, most left disappointed. Strong opinions were voiced, but everyone managed to avoid the hysterical smears and name-calling that so often heralds the hijacking of discussion by hard-line Israel supporters.

Although many opposed any demand for a boycott, every speaker was insistent on their support for the Palestinian people and their condemnation of Israel's actions. Opponents of a boycott instead argued on the grounds that such a step was counterproductive, would divide the union or would stifle "academic freedom."

The boycott call was launched in April 2004 by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). It is supported by 60 Palestinian trade unions, NGOs and political and religious organisations.

UCU delegates discussed a motion calling on UCU to circulate the full text of the PACBI call to all branches.

The motion also condemned Israel's 40-year occupation of Palestine and its "denial of educational rights for Palestinians by invasions, closures, checkpoints, curfews and shootings and arrests of teachers, lecturers and students."

Opening the debate, University of Brighton delegate Tom Hickey welcomed growing international condemnation of Israel as an "apartheid state" and detailed the devastating effect of the occupation on the Palestinian people.

"If we do nothing and look away, we make ourselves complicit in it," he argued.

Executive member Mary Davis spoke against a boycott, calling the motion "divisive and disingenuous."

She said that, if the same principles were applied to Britain, then all British academia would be boycotted over Britain's shameful role in the attack on Iraq.

Instead, she proposed concentrating the union's efforts on pro-Palestinian activities, such as stopping arms sales to Israel and supporting the importation of goods produced in free Palestine, such as olive oil.

However, the final vote saw 158 delegates back the motion, with 99 against.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Hickey said that the next step would be to organise a series of regional debates over the next year, with as wide a range of speakers as possible, including academics from both Israel and Palestine.

He stressed that the form any potential boycott could take was up to the union, but he suggested that it could include such measures as a refusal to attend conferences organised by Israeli universities or a ban on joint grant applications with such institutions.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, who had spoken out against a boycott prior to the debate, commented: "Today's motion means all branches now have a responsibility to consult all of their members on the issue and I believe that every member should have the opportunity to have their say."

She also pointed out that a previous motion had endorsed an official policy on "greylisting and boycott" by the union's transitional arrangements committee, providing a series of "key tests" which would have to be passed before any boycott could be implemented.

33 comments:

Jim Denham said...

For the first time in my life, I agree with Mary Davis - except I'd go further: this is anti-semitism in a (relatively) new "anti-Zionist" guise. I've thought this for a some time, but diplomatically refrained from saying so. The time for diplomacy is over. The gloves are off.

AN said...

Jim. It seems you are now in a half way house then. You have stopped refraining from accusing people of anti-semitism, but you are still refraining from explainig the reasoning for such a slur?

If you are intent on insulting comrades, then perhaps you might explain your allegation of anti-semitism?

Jim Denham said...

Certainly: the pro-boycott people use arguments to justify their boycott of Israel that they use against *no other state* (to jstify a boycott) : that Isreal is occupying and oppressing Palestinian land and people; what about Britain and the US in Iraq, Russia in Chechnia, China in Tibet,Sudan in Darfur, Britain and the US in Diego Garcia...etc...etc...etc? Why is only Israel's occupation that warrants a boycott?

And why are only Israeli (Jewish) academics held responsible for the actions of their government, and set a McCarthyite test whereby they must renounce their government and/or their stae before they meet with the approval of the boycotters? no other academics in the entire world are held to such a test.

And why do the boycotters not want to join with pro-Palestinian academics, trade unionists and progressives, in campaigning for a just two-states way forward? Because, in reality, most boycotters (I except a few "useful idiots") actually want the destruction of Israel.

If that's not anti-semitism for the 21st Century, I don't know what is.

AN said...

Jim,

A serious question, have you ever been to Palestine? Or Isreal?

I have no interest in this turning into another slanging match, but I am interested in what you are saying.

When I was in Palestine last year, what i found quite interesting is that most palestinian activists are quite agnostic about the issue of two-states or one state. Currently, unless the settlments, the wall and the apartheid health, road and economic system is dismantled in the occupied territories then there is no viable two states.

(Don't be offended by the apartheid term, i don't know how else to describe the two peoples, two systems way it works in the West bank)

But for the settlements to be removed, and 500000 Israelis returned into the pre 1967 borders seems as utterly utopian as the idea of a single secular state. And for Two States to work, the Palestinians would have to control their own borders, which would be something I simply cannot see the Israelis accepting.

There is also the problem of the Isreali Arabs to consider, who are increasingly economically marginalised by the guest labour that Isreal brings in under quota from Thailand, Korea and China, and the average familly wage is now below subsistance levels. (The left is generally shamefully silent about the Israeli Arabs). They represent a serious obstacle to a two states solution.

To be fair, i am not a great fan of indiscriminate boycotts either, beacsue I have seen how - when crudely applied - it damages the Palestinian economy.

However, i totally disagree with you that it is motivated by anti-semitism. Or are you arguing it is objectively anti-semitic.

Jim Denham said...

Whether the boycott postion is *objectively* or *subjectively* ant-semitic is of decreasingly little interest to me. When I used to try to avoid spelling out the conclusion that the boycott (and also a lot of other anti-Isreaeli stuff purvayed by the "left") was anti-semitic, I would fall back on the word "objectively" . As a matter of fact, I still believe that most "left" anti-semitism is not motivated by personal hatred of Israeli Jews as a people...but that doesn't really matter. the end result is the same. just like "institutional racism" doesn't necessarily involve personal hatred of black people.
However, as a matter of fact, in the course of 30-plus years on the marxist left, I have come across individuals who I am quite satisfied are/were personally anti-semitic. And more of them have risen to the surface in the last few years, usually using Israel/Palestine as their "justification". This includes members of "Respect" (if you include themn as part of the "left" - which I don't), the SWP, 2Socialist Resitance"/ISG and the CP/"Morning Star" axis. In fact, read the "Morning Star"'s letters column and their new contributor, Ramzy Baroud, who can scarcely conceal his desire to see the destructyion of Israel.

In closing: I do not accept that Israel is an "apartheid" state, and I think the use of that term is politically illiterate and practically misleading. We can talk about that some other time. And: no, I have never visited Israel or Palestine. nor have I visited Vietnam, Northern Ireland,Iraq, Afghanistan. Darfur or Venezuela: but that doesn't stop me (or anyone else) having opinions about any or all of those places and the politics that surround them.

AN said...

I ask whether you had been there, because I was taken aback at how appalling the level of discrimination and oppression is, and that was despite being intellectually prepared in the sense of having read a lot about it and having seen films, etc.

Palestinians are treated like dogs, humilated daily, and their economy and civil society systematically degraded and disrupted.

It is a real obstacle to there being a Two State solution if Palestine cannot be a viable state, is it not? Seeing the scale of the settlements, and the way that there are two seperate systems, and the level of military and economic commitment that Israel has for maintaining the settlers, including the annexation of east Jerusalem, it is very hard for me to see how the settlers would ever withdraw, and how there could ever be peace without them withdrawing?

Whether or not we use the term Apartheid to describe the situation in the West bank (and it is a term used by some of the Jewish Israeli left, such as the Committee Against House Demolitions) it is certainly a military occupation based upon an expansionist racist principle, and that does make it a unique phenomenon in today's world. hence criticism of that unique aspect of it will inevitably be criticising Israel in terms that other states are not criticised for.

As I said before, looking at the facts on the ground (a gloriously Zionist ambition), it is no more utopian to see a twin states solution arising as to imagine a secular liberal Palestine, from the river to the sea, where all the peoples including th Jews can live.

ModernityBlog said...

the boycott is symptomatic of many of the problems with the Left in Britain, too much gesture politics, too mny weak arguments and an unhealthy fixation with one particular country in the Middle East

Jim Denham said...

Andy: believe it or not, I entirely agree with your feelings of immense sympathy and solidarity with and for tyhe Palestinians. Ehat I fail to comprehend is how junking the realiseable aim of "two states" in favour of the utopian "one state" position you describe (and what agency would bring it about?), helps bring the Palestinians' demand for nationhood any nearer?
I am quite prepared to believe that your call for a "secular liberal Palestinaian state from the river to the sea" is benighn (and not -as for some - a code for "drive the Jews into the sea"): but how is it likely to come about? What forces are there that would help create it? Assuming that you are in favour of persuading, and not coercing the Israeli Jews, then what makes you think they are *more* likely to support this than they are "two states"?
Isn't this, in reality, a council of despair? You've written off "two states". so any utopian "solution" will do? In which case, why not just say "only socialism has the answer"? and -of course- you'd be right...

AN said...

As I say Jim, most palestinians I spoke to don't care. There is in practice a pragmatic acceptance that the territories of 1948 have been irrecoverably lost, but because this message is unpalatable it is dressed in the intransigent rhetoric about never recognising Israel (The same sort of rhetoric we get from the TUC - the miners will never be left to fight alone, etc, when they mean exactly the opposite).

The problem I have is that starting from where we are now, then both Two States, and a single secular state seem EQUALLY utopian, and that does feed into the more millenarian "solutions".

I don't really go along with you saying that comrades are being anti-semitic, but equally in the absense of any plausible way out, then the barbarous dystopia of the possible alternatives do become historical possibilities, and perhaps they haven't thought that through.

BUt it seems to me it is the Zionists who have created this situation, and they who have excluded all alternative outcomes except war to the finish. I hope I am wrong.

Alex Nichols said...

As Mary Davis is a Morning Star supporter, do I take it that her arguments represented their official position, or was this her personal one?
Since Ronnie Kasrils, a member of the CPSA and minister in the South African government has been instrumental in promoting the boycott, there seems to be a contradiction developing here.

I'm not convinced by the arguments for the boycott for a number of reasons, including:-

1) It relies on simplistic analogies between the situations in South Africa and Israel/Palestine, which I don't accept.
2) It overestimates how effective the South African boycott movement actually was.
3) It has a dynamic that is purely nationalist, rather than being based on the working class solving the national question.
4) It ties the whole boycott to the two-state solution.

None of this is to say that there shouldn't be trade union based solidarity with those living under occupation.
I don't believe that this is the direction in which this campaign is leading though.

I think a good critique from a working class persepective is provided by Yossi Schwartz here:-
http://www.marxist.com/blanket-israel-workers-boycott3105.htm

Phil said...

the pro-boycott people use arguments to justify their boycott of Israel that they use against *no other state* (to jstify a boycott) : that Isreal is occupying and oppressing Palestinian land and people; what about Britain and the US in Iraq, Russia in Chechnia, China in Tibet,Sudan in Darfur, Britain and the US in Diego Garcia...etc...etc...etc?

You and Norm, eh? I used to be sympathetic to the AWL position on Israel/Palestine, but either it's changed or I have. When you get down to it I don't know quite what you're saying here: the argument seems to be that socialists shouldn't protest against any oppressive regime anywhere in the world unless they also protest against all the others, but that would be absurd. (Apart from anything else, it would commit you to badgering Tibet and Darfur protesters in the same way - what about Iraq? what about Palestine?)

If you were saying that the focus on Israel is wrong in political or tactical terms - i.e. that one of the other situations you've listed is more unjust, more oppressive, more urgent - I could understand that; you could name the issue you think the UCU should be campaigning on, we could debate the specifics and we might get somewhere. But assuming that the other person's operating in bad faith isn't the best way to start a debate.

Jim Denham said...

No, Phil: I am most definately *not* saying either that socialists shouldn't campaign against any oppressive regime unless aw simultaneously campaign against them all; nor am I saying that an emphasis on Israel is wrong for either tactical or political reasons. What I *an* saying is that the emphasis on a total (and, in realiity the aim is *total*) boycott of Israel, is unique, eceptional and motivated by dual standards and criteria that are not applied to *any* other state on the face of the earth (many of which are *more* oppressive and racist than Israel, which for all its faults is a bourgeois democracy that gives legal rights to its Palestian Arab citizens). I also believe the boycott campaign will be ineffective and even counter-productive in terms of building solidarity with the Palestinians. What we need is a pro-Palestinian campaign: what is being constructed by the SWP, the PSC and the other "left" anti-semites is an anti Israeli campaign. That's why insisting upon two states is essential to any socialist campaign in solidarity with the Palestininans.

AN said...

But Jim

You are not addressing my point that fundamental to the understanding of what is going on in Israel and the occupied territories today is the explicitly stated and self-acknowledged Zionist policy of creating "facts on the ground", that in fact make a palestinian state non-viable economically, politically and culturally, except as the sort of reservation onto which the aboriginal North American tribes were contained on.

The effect this has meant upon the palestinian polity is to discredit and diminish the authority of those forces that accepted Oslo, and the twin states, which is why Hamas won the election.

So even for Two States to be acheived, enormous international pressure would need to be exerted upon Irael, to force them to withdraw the half million settlers from the West Bank, and to allow Palestine to control its own borders, and police all of its own territory.

So even Two States requires an international campaign, perhaps including some boycotts and sanctions, to force israel to change.

And the occupation of the west bank is unique in today's global politics because of the settlements, and the "two peoples, two systems" way that the occupation works.

I do recognise, and have written about and condemned "left" anti-judaism, and also the anti-Judaic sentiment in the Middle east which is receptive to some European anti-Semitism.

But it is perfectly possible, without being anti-Judaic, to have a political position that the existince of Israel as a Zionist state is an obstacle to peace that must be transcended.

To be honest, I think there was a historical possibility for Israel to exist in the Middle east as a Jewish state in harmony with its Arab neighbours, had they been prepared to make peace before 1967. I am not convinced that is any longer possible. But neither is the continuing status quo a viable option.

AN said...

The thread debating Israel is now back open, and the good news is that none of Jim Denham's wisdom was lost!

Phil said...

the good news is that none of Jim Denham's wisdom was lost!

Oh dear - what's the bad news, then?

(Joke. Honest.)

the emphasis on a total (and, in realiity the aim is *total*) boycott of Israel, is unique, eceptional and motivated by dual standards and criteria that are not applied to *any* other state on the face of the earth

You're repeating the same argument in slightly different words; it doesn't make it any more persuasive.

I don't think we can assume that anti-Israeli campaigns are motivated by anti-semitism, any more than we can assume that anti-US campaigns are motivated by hatred of Americans. I don't even believe that anti-Zionist positions should be opposed for tactical reasons, because there are anti-semites who support them. I know Jews who are proud to be Jewish and who are also committed anti-Zionists; that's good enough for me, frankly.

If we don't assume that anti-Zionists are operating in bad faith, as far as I can see that just leaves the 'double standards' argument. To which I can only say (and I'm sorry to spell this out on quite such a rudimentary level): do you think the Palestinians are suffering injustice at the hands of the Israeli state? and, do you believe that socialists can legitimately choose to campaign on one injustice rather than another? The rest follows. If you believe that another injustice is more important, fine - let's talk about that. If not, I don't see how you can call for somebody else's choice of campaign to be disallowed. It just seems like drawing lines and creating divisions for their own sake.

CiarĂ¡n said...

Jim: "Because, in reality, most boycotters (I except a few "useful idiots") actually want the destruction of Israel.

If that's not anti-semitism for the 21st Century, I don't know what is."


How exactly is wanting the destruction of the Israeli state anti-semitic?

Ken said...

what about Britain and the US in Iraq, Russia in Chechnia, China in Tibet,Sudan in Darfur, Britain and the US in Diego Garcia...etc...etc...etc?

Well Jim, you're not all that opposed to the US and UK in Iraq, and I haven't heard much from the AWL about Diego Garcia either. And (aside from Diego Garcia) none of these are instances of a state controlling a territory while denying its inhabitants recognition as citizens. The Russian government insists that the Chechnyans are Russian citizens (whether they want to be or not). The Chinese government insists that the Tibetans are Chinese citizens (whether they want to be or not). The Israeli government, like that of apartheid South Africa, rules a people they insist are not citizens. And, by being identified as part of 'the West' and more materially by dependence on the West (investment in the SA case, subsidy in the Israeli case) they do this in our name.

I'm not saying this in support of a boycott, but against the 'why pick on us?' and the 'what about all the others?' talking points, which were also used the defenders of apartheid in its day.

Richard Carey said...

The one thing missing from this discussion is any mention of Palestinian aggression, and the hardline stance of Hamas etc.

The Palestinian cause would have been helped immeasurably if they'd managed to make a fist of running Gaza when the Israelis pulled out.

AN said...

hi Richrd, glad to see you back here and we haven't scared you off by our extreme leftism!

The hardline nature of Hamas is actually more apparent than real, they rhetorically refuse too recognise Israel, but in practice declared a 40 year unilateral ceasefire. There is a certain amoun of playing to the gallery.

With regard to "Palestinian aggression", they are an occupied people and as such have a right under international law to mount military resistance. In fact, the amount of violence is extremely asymetrical.

The last six years have seen about 1000 isrealis killed and 4500 Palestinians. 21% of pallestinians killed are under 17 years of age, and 82% were civiians unconnected with resistance to the occupation.

And it is impossible for the Palestinians to make a go of Gaza, becasue it is effectively just a prison camp, with no control over its own broders, and members of the Palestinian government, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot even travel there from the west bank.

What is more, since Hamas were elected the Israelis have illegally withheld a huge sum of tax (collected by the Israelis on the palestinians behalf in occupied Jerusalam - under the Oslo accord) which means that the PA has been unable to pay any staff for over a year.

Richard Carey said...

AN,

No, I haven't been scared off yet.

"The hardline nature of Hamas is actually more apparent than real"

ever the optimist?

"the amount of violence is extremely asymetrical"

The body count is asymetrical, due to the better weaponry and security of the Israelis, who also do not have internecine gun battles. What does this prove?

Until Hamas is prepared to deal with Israel, and recognise their right to exist, Israel ain't giving any favours away. They could have made a go at Gaza, but they didn't want to, preferring to push on with their asymetric war. Do you really expect Israel to hand over money to a group who are committed to destroying them? Come on.

I'm not going to argue a pro-Israel or pro-Zionist line with you. I just wanted to point out that there are barriers to peace on both sides.

AN said...

Richard.

No, the intransigence of Hamas over Israel really is more pragmatic than you think. Most military action against Israel now is from Al Aqsa martyrs (linked to Fatah) and Islamic Jihad. And military action is very small scale.

And. how could they have made a go of Gaza, given that the Palestinian Authority do not control their own borders so the Israelis can refuse anyone access to or egress from gaza, they do not control their own currency, their politicians and civil servants cannot travel between the West bank and Gaza, they have no natural resources to speak of, all foreign governments advise no travel to Gaza, and there is almost no public infrastructure of roads, water, sewerage, etc. Would you invest there?

The real point of the withdrawl from Gaza, was the contrast that they did not withdraw from the West Bank. Israeli withdrawl from the West bank and East jeruslaem would really provide a viable economic and political entity, which Gaza never can be. But the East-West axis of settler development totally disrupts the natural north-south economic development in the West bank, making economic growth impossible.

The reason that Hamas won the electon is because of Israeli bad faith over Oslo - so that the palestinian parties who had promised results from Oslo but only delivered more humiliation and suffering were punished.

My experience of going there is that most palestinians are pretty pragmatic about the possible outcomes, and all they want is the daily misery of their lives to be alieviated.

Rohan G said...

I think the, "Which violence is more legitimate, Israeli state or Palesinian resistance?" argument mostly goes around in circles in the absence of clarity about what Israel is.

So what is Israel? Israel is an exclusively Jewish state that was created in the name of Zionism, a political movement that holds that the only way Jews could / can be liberated from anti-Jewish (anti-Semetic) hatered is for Jews to form a state of their own.

History has shown this to be not only a pessimistic doctrine, but a self defeating one as Israel as it stands today will never see peace.

That's because the land chosen for Israel had many non-Jewish people (Palestianians etc) living there who would never agree to an exclusive Jewish state being established on their turf. So with the help of Western governments (especially Britain) this land was taken by force. To justify this process Zionists claim to have both a moral and god-given right to this exclusive religious nation and its land.

Israel has at its desposal not only the money supplied by the US and the guns that they can by with this money, but also one of the world's largest publishing and public relations firms: Holocaust Inc.

The Israli state "owns" the history of the truely appaling Holocaust history (I don't mean the responsibilty, obviously - I mean the PR capital). Israel protectss this PR capital vigorously even going so far as to object to the use of the word holocaust in other equivelant instances of human atrocity such as Rawanda.

So when people bemoan Palestinian violent resistance they should realise that they are in a way asking Palestinians to submit, and live forever on their knees as a kind of slave people.

Rohan G said...

I was writing my previous post in a library and had to huridly send it before it was complete. So I'm posting this revised version now:


I think the, "Which violence is more legitimate, Israeli state or Palesinian resistance?" argument mostly goes around in circles in the absence of clarity about what Israel is.

So what is Israel? Israel is an exclusively Jewish state that was created in the name of Zionism, a political movement that holds that the only way Jews could / can be liberated from anti-Jewish (anti-Semetic) hatered is for Jewish people to form a state of their own.

History has shown this to be not only a pessimistic doctrine, but a self defeating one as Israel as it stands today will never see peace.

That's because the land chosen for Israel had many non-Jewish people (Palestianians etc) living there who would never agree to an exclusive Jewish state being established on their turf. So with the help of Western governments (especially Britain) this land was taken by force. To justify this process Zionists claim to have both a moral and god-given right to this exclusive religious nation and the land beneath it.

Israel has at its desposal not only the money supplied by the US and the guns that they can by with this money, but also one of the world's largest publishing and public relations firms: Holocaust Inc.

The Israeli state "owns" the truely appaling Holocaust history (I don't mean the responsibilty, obviously - I mean the PR capital). Israel protects this PR capital vigorously, even going so far as to object to the use of the word holocaust in other equivelant instances of human atrocity such as Rawanda. According to Holocaust Inc, if you oppose Israeli actions and Zionism you are anti-Semetic.

When Palestinians resist their status as an occupied people they are met with unflinching violence by the Israeli state. The Palestinians have no capacity for military victory, their feeble missiles lanched against Israel amount to, "If we shall not have justice then you shall not have peace." desperation.

So when people bemoan Palestinian violent resistance above and beyond the violence of Israel they should realise that they are in a way asking Palestinians to submit, and live forever on their knees as an enslaved people.

Richard Carey said...

AN,

no I wouldn't invest in Gaza, and unfortunately the investment there was in the 1990s has no doubt largely been destroyed - the airport for instance.

But I still don't accept that the Palestinians couldn't have made more of an effort to improve things, and the first step would have been to recognise the state of Israel, and call off the rocket attacks. Given the huge difficulties they had to raise their game, but they couldn't do it.

Rohan,

what are they gaining from their violent resistance? As long as the war goes on, there can be no improvement to their lot, whether or not resistance is justified, and in any case suicide bombing is abhorent. If the Palestinians renounced that, and recognised Israel a settlement would be immeasurably more likely, to the benefit of all.

AN said...

Richard.

You have to understand why Fattah lost the election. fattah and the PA recognised israel (and the PA still does recognise Israel, hamas the oparty in goivernment does not, but we must distinguish between the party and the "State" that they govern.)

Thye promised that Oslo would bring peace, but it only brought continued occcupation. They promised that it would bring prosperity, but it only brought continued disruption of the Palestinian economy, and they promised it would bring an end to the settlements, but in the West bank the settlements have continued, and the wall disrupts the economy and social fabric of the country even more.

The partyies supporting Oslo were defeated becasue their belief that the Israelis would honour their part of the agreement was exposed as naive. And the failure of Israel to implement their side of Oslo has exposed the Israelis as not being interested in peace.

the real obstacles to peace are the settlements, and the annexation of East Jerusalem. As long as those continue then the Israelis are not acting in good faith and do not want peace, so the relatively tiny amount of military resistance that the palestinians offer is neither here nor there.

Richard Carey said...

AN,

I don't doubt there's truth in what you say, but you're still overlooking the obstacles on the Palestinian side , and talking of a "relatively tiny amount of military resistance" is nonsensical.

If the Israelis pulled out all the settlements on land taken in 1967, this would be described as a victory for the armed struggle. Would the Palestinians give up the armed struggle or continue in the hope of taking Israel too? Some might say yes, but Hamas won't, according to their constitution, so Israel will have given up a lot (whether or not they have a right to it) and got very little in return.

You have to try and see the Israeli point of view in this, and the choices that are open to them, leaving aside all historical rights and wrongs, and be pragmatic.

So, by all means support the Palestinians right to self-determination, but understand why the continued military confrontation, use of suicide bombers and refusal to acknowledge Israel are major obstacles as well.

johng said...

"You have to try and see the Israeli point of view in this, and the choices that are open to them, leaving aside all historical rights and wrongs, and be pragmatic"

One difficulty is that those who control the modalities of the 'Peace Process', such as it is, largely the US and Israel (Arafat's contribution to this being that he accepted the US as an honest broker in the conflict), refuse to apply the same standard to the Palestinian side.

So, political constraints on Arafat, to give just one example, are resolutely ignored or treated as irrelevent in accounts of the unravelling of the post-Oslo period, whilst any difficulty for Israeli politicians is treated simply as a 'fact on the ground' and perfectly reasonable.

Its extremely difficult to know how to take declarations about the 'opportunity' of Israel withdrawel from Gaza when the PA was deeply opposed to such a unilateral withdrawel, and Israeli politicians directly involved in this decision stated that the goal of this withdrawel was to freeze the Peace Process.

Within weeks everyone's demanding to know why Palestinians are so hypocritical as to be unhappy about it, even accusing them of being 'conspiracy theorists' for simply repeating what Israeli politicians said.

Its also true that the subordination of the achievement of Peace to the requirements of Israeli security, at the same time as Palestinians enjoy no security at all, give the unfortunate impression that Palestinian rights are subordinate to Israeli ones (precisely what the dispute is about). The recent map of the West Bank drawn up by the UN provides pretty firm evidence that, whatever one thinks of the two state solution, no version of it likely to accepted by Israel will ever be acceptable to Palestinians.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/728a69d4-12b1-11dc-a475-000b5df10621.html

Jim Denham has apparently taken his gloves. So, no more mr. nice guy eh? What a shame.

AN said...

Richard. I don't think any Palestinians believe that the armed struggle is getting them anywhere. There is overwhleming acceptance of the idea that only a political solution is viable or acheivable.

However, in the absence of any hope that such a political settlement is possible then the largely tokenistic current level of military actions is really about different Palestinian groups jockeying for prestige in their own communities.

Absolutley no Palestinain would believe that the current level of military struggle, or any level of struggle that they could attain, would drive the Israelis out of the West Bank.

What you are missing is that the settler presence in East Jeruslam and the west bank is constantly expanding, and the "security" argument is a pretext. If security was the reason for the walll, then why is the wall being built deep in Palestinian territory, leaving thousands of Pallestinians on the Israeli side of the wall?

All palesinians at this juncture know that any solution must be a negotiated one, and must involve outside pressure on israel - neither the Palestinians nor Araby can achieve it alone.

But even iof the Isrealis did withdraw from the West Bank, the Palestinians would still have a legitimate aspiration that the whole territory from the "river to the sea" could one day be a secular palestine. After all the Irish six counties were able to live with Fiannna Fail governments in the 26 counties that had an aspirationa and constitutional claim to all Ireland.

Richard Carey said...

AN,

as before I don't dispute the Israeli side of the problem, but again I think you're seeing only what you want to see in the Palestinians. Your generalisations do not apply to the guys with the rockets and bombs.

Some Palestinians may hope for this secular state, many do not, including of course the main belligerents on the Palestinian side.

I don't think this boycott is any more than posturing 1000 miles from the front line, and also if negotiation is the only way in the end, I don't see that cutting off ties with Israeli academia will further this.

I'll leave you to your campaigning, though, as I have no solutions myself to offer.

AN said...

Richard

What evidence do you have for this statement? many do not, including of course the main belligerents on the Palestinian side.

The palestinian Authority is a secular "state", and needs to be given the lrage Christian and atheists populations, and smaller religious groups like the Samaritans . What makes you think there is any aspiration to stop Palestine being secular?

For example Hamas are very keen on promoting multi-faith community links, they paid for the Christmas lights in Bethlehem last year.

AN said...

And currently the main "beligerant" group is the Al Aqsa martyrs, who are linked to Fatah, and fatah are a secular organisation.

FurGaia said...

I don't think this boycott is any more than posturing 1000 miles from the front line, and also if negotiation is the only way in the end, I don't see that cutting off ties with Israeli academia will further this.

I guess they beg to differ ... as does he.

Until the international community really gets involved and insists that Israel abides by international law, boycott is the only tool that we have available to bring the Israeli government to its senses.

Israel is built on a mirage, but it's a mirage that most of us in the West (and the House of Saud!) have helped sustain over the years. Herein, though, lies its greater vulnerability to symbolic acts ... like an international boycott.

AN said...

YOu are right FurGaia.

Israel will only negotiate or stop expanding if they are absolutely forced to by extrernal pressure.

I no longer beleive that military pressure will ever work, so political, diplomatic and commercial pressure is needed.