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Friday, June 15, 2007

Jewish Chronicle shows ignorance, ignores many real boycott ringleaders

An article in the Jewish Chronicle, Named: boycott ringleaders proports to name the "real" leaders of the British anti-Israel academic boycott:
The JC today identifies the key players in the escalating British campaign to boycott Israel. Our investigation shows that many are Jewish or Israeli, and that they justify their stance as part of the struggle for Palestinian rights and ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.
A high proportion are deeply involved in UCU, the University and College Union, which last month sparked an international outcry by voting to facilitate a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
Anti-boycott figures suggest that the campaign has been fuelled by a well-organised mix of far-left activists and Islamic organisations. In reality, the main proponents are a loosely knit collection of academics and trade unionists linked to groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for the Boycotting of Israeli Goods, and Bricup, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine.
Israeli Haim Bresheeth, professor of media and culture at the University of East London, seconded the UCU motion, which called for consideration of the morality of ties with Israeli academia and for discussions on boycotting...
Prof Bresheeth told the JC that a boycott was not an easy decision. "I am Jewish and an Israeli, and I don't wish harm on either side. But how long can this occupation go on?..."
Bricup has a large number of Jewish supporters, among them husband and wife Hilary and Steven Rose. Hilary, a professor of social policy at Bradford University, is Bricup's co-convenor alongside Prof Jonathan Rosenhead. Her husband, an Open University biology professor, is the organisation's secretary. They have been active in the boycott movement since 2002.
In an online article, Steven Rose wrote: "It really isn't good enough to attack the messenger as antisemitic or a self-hating Jew rather than deal with the message that Israel's conduct is unacceptable."
Prof Rosenhead, of the London School of Economics, hails from a "solid Zionist and Jewish background". Bricup, he said, had been involved in the discussions about the writing of the UCU motion. "The reaction from the community was what you would expect, but we are looking forward to the debate. It was a triumph that Israel came into existence —but not this Israel."
The reality is that Jewish Chronicle has distorted and wilfully ignored the reality. Some of the boycott supporters are Jews. Britain has always had a large proportion of Anti-Zionist Jews. However, the main engine for boycott support seems to be Sue Blackwell, the Socialist Workers Party and several Palestinian organizations. The most notable Palestinian organization in this respect is the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. (see also: The program of the Israel boycotters - one state or genocide? ) Omar Barghouti and Lisa Taraki, who are among the founders of this organization have been active on the Web and in lectures, supporting the boycott in the guise of humanitarianism. The reality is that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is against peace with Israel and against dialogue. This group tells youth and others, in Arabic only documents, that those who engage in dialogue with Israelis are traitors who take crumbs from the Americans and Europeans, and that Seeds of Peace is the "most dangerous" organization among dialogue groups. Socialist Workers Party, which may be the source of funding for PACBI, is the lynchpin of  the UCU boycott campaign. They have a cell within UCU and a Web site at
One really has to try hard to miss the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and SWP as Jewish Chronicle did, and to minimize Sue Blackwell. Apparently, Jewish Chronicle was trying to make some point about Jewish opposition to Zionism, but it is not clear what they proved.
Ami Isseroff

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