Anti Fascism,  Israel/Palestine

UCU Boycotters Still Don’t See the Problem

We’re thinking of publishing all of the correspondence on the UCU activists list, every day, in full, to show how dominated the list is by the issue of pushing for the illegal boycott. The list is not
private: it is circulated to nearly 700 recipients. We believe that the subject is of such importance, it deserves a wider audience still.

However, for today, we’re publishing some of the pro-boycotters responses to Delich’s exclusion from the list. As you see, they fall over themselves to excuse the posting of an article which claimed:

“Yet the Israeli government does a very good job of convincing the whole world that it is the victim in the conflict. How can this be? Israeli control of the press? Could that ubiquitous “conspiracy theory” actually be closer to a conspiracy fact?”

And

“To the Israeli oligarchs, the death of Palestinian civilians is “superb”, and they feel nothing when they kill women and children. What more can I say – either someone does something about these sick pyschopaths, or they, and their kind in Washington and around the world, will destroy us all.” (my emphasis)

These were views which Delich recommended.

However, UCU pro boycotters had only this to say:

Subject: Important – please read
From: Matt Waddup <MWaddup@…>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 10:52:29 +0100
X-Message-Number: 3

Time for one of my universally popular interventions

I have received complaints from list members about the linking by another member to a website which contains highly offensive, racist material.

I acted to suspend the posting rights of the list member as soon as the union became aware of the link, and having reviewed this and previous conduct; I have now suspended their list membership indefinitely.

List members should note that my view as moderator is that you are responsible for what you post, including links.

Check what you are sharing before you share it.  Think about what you are saying before you press send.

Best to all

Matt

——————

On a final note, I understand why Matt, on behalf of UCU, has taken the decision to suspend Jenna Delitsch’s membership on the list, but I am saddened as well. What Jenna did was a terrible mistake, but she has apologised, and we all appreciate that her mistake in citing a racist website was entirely unintentional. I can see that she should have been more careful – as the rest of us should also be more careful – in using websites and also in choosing our words carefully – and that this lack of care led to an error so serious that suspension from the list was an appropriate response. But what about those who, in their case, knowingly and intentionally placed photos of Jenna and nasty, exaggerated claims about her on ‘a non-union and perhaps even anti-union website, Harry’s list’? I very much hope the union will take action against them.

with best wishes,

Dr. Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick

——————

Subject: re: trade union solidarity
From: catherine.tanner@…
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 15:00:23 -0000
X-Message-Number: 11

Rebecca
I completely agree with you about the actions of some members posting jenna’s photograph and indeed posting about the issue on yesterday’s Comment is Free (Guardian) site in response to an article by Sally Hunt. The implication was made that the union was racist and instead of the issue being one of a mistake by one individual is being represented as an action taken by the union (‘UCU has put the link on its e-mail list’ is how it was expressed). The issue is obviously not that straightforward.

Some action should be taken about this as to post a photograph on Harry’s list is a very aggressive tactic and whatever we feel about the issue we should feel able to express our views as activists without fear of actions being taken that put our safety at risk. I also think that the guardian should be contacted and the union should have some right of reply (although I can see difficulties here).

——————

Subject: RE: What UCU is al about.
From: “Keith Hammond” <k.hammond@…>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:35:03 +0100
X-Message-Number: 14

Hi everyone,

I understand Jenna is getting a lot of hate mail – horrendous phone calls and all sorts of stuff …  She made a mistake with a posting that she tried to rectify it …  And it was all on this Dan facility.  But her name is all over the place I understand and she does not deserve this kind of treatment …  What is said on this list should stay on the list but it does not …

I hope you are noting this Matt ?

Keith

——————

Subject: Re: Important – please read
From: “Lesley Kane” <lhk4@…>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 18:29:17 +0100
X-Message-Number: 16

Matt Waddup <MWaddup@…> writes:
>Time for one of my universally popular interventions
>
>I have received complaints from list members about the linking by another
>member to a website which contains highly offensive, racist material.
>
>I acted to suspend the posting rights of the list member as soon as the
>union became aware of the link, and having reviewed this and previous
>conduct; I have now suspended their list membership indefinitely.

The member concerned is of Eastern European origin, and American white supremacist groups are just not on her political radar. The posting of the link was a mistake.

She is also one of the few people on this list to have been personally on the receiving end of a process of ethnic cleansing in the recent past. She and her family risked their lives to get out through enemy lines.

It is this experience that explains the bluntness of her postings on Israel/Palestine, because she regards the Palestinians as also having suffered a process of ethnic cleansing. If we are going to debate this sort of thing from the relative safety of Britain we have to allow for the fact that people who have experienced ethnic cleansing will see it in a more immediate and less academic light than we do.

Jenna’s politics are not right wing. She grew up in a society ruled by the Communist Party, and like many other former Eastern Europeans, I think she has appreciated the greater personal freedom in the west, but also found the rampant commercialism and the way everything is dominated by the market rather unsatisfactory.
>
Since you consider it is time for one of your “universally popular interventions”, can I ask what you intend to do about the leakage of material from this list onto sites like “Harry’s place” where it has been given a grossly inaccurate and anti-union twist, and where it will lead people to draw seriously erroneous conclusions about the member concerned and her politics, and where it may even put her life at risk because of the photograph and information about where she is.

Or is the problem that we do not know and cannot find out who is responsible for the leakage of material, and the distorted slant put on it?

Regards,
Lesley Kane
(ALs Officer of the OU UCU branch)

——————

Subject: re:trade union solidarity
From: “Diarmuid Fogarty” <DFogarty@…>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 19:10:46 +0100
X-Message-Number: 17

>>> catherine.tanner@…> 27/08/2008 16:00 >> ( mailto:
catherine.tanner@…> )
 The implication was made that the union was racist and instead of the issue being one of a mistake by one individual is being represented as an action taken by the union (‘UCU has put the link on its e-mail list’ is how it was expressed).

If this is the case, I would expect the individual to be kicked out of the union (if they are a member).

By the way, I think it is ridiculous to ban Jenna from this list (assuming that she would want to remain a member). I hope to see her reinstated in the immediate future

——————

Subject: Matt’s decision to indefinitely censor Jenna
From: “Diarmuid Fogarty” <dfogarty@…>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 22:27:47 +0100
X-Message-Number: 19

Matt

You write that you have suspended a member – whom we all assume to be Jenna Delich- following complaints about a link to a website that contains highly offensive, racist material. Leaving aside the fact that the link was actually to a webpage whereupon was published an article that was not at all racist, I am surprised that you have apparently decided to act upon these complaints without appearing to give any weight to the possibility that they may have been made in bad faith. I am informed that you have received complaints about people breaking the rules of this list and forwarding people’s private communications to external sites where they have been published. I am not aware of any measures you have taken to ensure that these people are held to account for their actions.

This may be construed at best as going for an easy target and, at worst, as exercising double standards that aim to stifle debate. In any event, I am sure that many posters to this list will regard it as crass heavy-handedness that fails to show any regard whatsoever for any principle of natural justice. That you have chosen to exercise your apparent absolute authority against a woman who argues against a powerful aggressor, whilst appearing to take no action against others who are in breach of the guidelines governing this list, will no doubt not have gone unnoticed. That the suspension remains in place after an admission of responsibility, an explanation and an apology have been forthcoming is also highly questionable.

There would appear to be no question of the member concerned acting to endorse the politics of other webpages hosted by David Duke. The same article can be found on a number of other webpages, none of which appear to have any link to the Ku Klux Klan or their erstwhile founder. Might I suggest that you reconsider your actions and reinstate the member’s rights to contribute to this list? If you decide not to do this, could you also remove me from this list?

With thanks
Diarmuid  Fogarty

——————

Subject: UCU and Harry’s Place
From: “Noel Douglas” <Noel.Douglas@…>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 22:34:27 +0100
X-Message-Number: 20

Hi everyone,

who is the coward who keeps leaking info to this disgusting website? It must be a member of UCU who is on this list, Jenna may have made a mistake but she does not deserve this sort of treatment, nor do any of the rest of us who have had to endure the bullshit that comes when Harry distorts a legitimate political position (anti-zionism and the one state solution) into anti-semitism.

I’m totally fed up with other members trying muck rake in this way, and I see the poison now spreading across various other sectarian websites too, when will other members respect other people’s views, even if they disagree with them? If you aren’t adult enough to not be hurt by words then maybe you should go live in Gaza and see what it’s like to be on the receiving end of real violence.

As it is Josh has took it upon himself to make a formal complaint against me and others for expressing our political position (thanks Josh unlike you at Cambridge I have a rather large workload to deal with and would rather not waste time answering your pathetic attempts to silence my political views, as much as I find yours distasteful you will notice I do not try and get you thrown out of our union for it.)

It makes me very suspicious when things like this happen that certain said members are not leaking information from this private list to places like Harry’s Place which if nothing else is no friend of any trade unionist.

So will the cowards own up? Jenna may have made an error but you are actually knowingly breaking our rules…have the guts to say what you think and let us all see you crawl out of the dark from where you are hiding.

noel

——————

List conduct      2008-08-28 01:10:00  <Sue Blackwell>

Dear all,

As one of those who gets the list in digest form at midnight, I’ve just learnt of Jenna’s “indefinite suspension” from the list. Matt I have to say you have gone over the top on this one. Sorry
to say this, but it looks as if UCU made a knee-jerk reaction because the union has been getting flak from certain scurrilous websites, so it felt it had to make an example of someone and Jenna
was that someone.

I endorse the comments by Lesley Kane and Diarmuid Fogarty 100%. I have no doubt that Jenna made a genuine mistake. Why am I so sure? Because I’ve done it myself. I run a website with numerous political pages, especially on Israel/Palestine. People get to know about it and send me articles and links. If I like them, I add them to my website. Unfortunately, some of the stuff I receive is of dubious provenance. On one occasion I got sent an article announcing that Rachel Corrie had been nominated for a posthumous Nobel Peace prize. This was the first I had heard of this story and I was about to add the link to my web page as “breaking news” when I noticed that the header on the web page referred to “Mr. Irving” as the apparent host of the site. Alarm bells started ringing, and on checking out the home page I found that this was indeed a site run by David Irving the holocaust denier. The story was entirely genuine but Irving had appropriated it for his own nasty ends. On another occasion I did put in a link to a site called “Marwen media”, on which I could see nothing problematic, only blurb about documentaries the person running the site had made about Palestinian human rights. I started getting besieged by hate mails because, unknown to me, this individual also associated with holocaust deniers and bits of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were quoted in parts of the site I had not seen. Of course my mistake was seized on by the Israel lobby as evidence that I really was an anti-semite whose real agenda was not human rights at all.

Jenna – whom I’m copying in* – please don’t be intimidated by the threats and abuse. Some of us have been there and it isn’t pleasant. But you are a survivor and you will come through this. Feel free to correspond with me off-list if it helps.

So please Matt, get a sense of proportion here. Jenna did not post a racist article nor even a link to one. She posted a link to a perfectly reasonable article which, unbeknown to her, was on a website run by a racist on which racist material appeared which she had not seen. She has apologised. Please give her a break and reinstate her. I’m sure she has learnt her lesson.

sincerely,

Sue B

* Matt I do trust it isn’t a suspendable offence to copy my own postings to someone who is suspended from the list!

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