The Left

More from the UCU Activists List

You’ll remember that this is how 2009’s ongoing ramble-a-thon started on everybody’s favourite soap opera, the UCU Activists list:

Can I make a personal plea, notwithstanding what is going on in the world, that 2009 sees this list more focussed on supporting activists in their activities representing members? We have challenging economic circumstances inside and outside of HE/FE. In HE we have just had the RAE results, which may just be the excuse some institutions have been waiting for to close departments and we also need to sort out pay negotiation and pay claims.

Here is today’s digest:

1. RE: demo on Saturday
2. Irish Congress of Trade Unions MARCH & RALLY FOR PEACE IN GAZA
3. Crisis in Gaza
4. RE: demo on Saturday
5. Fwd: Invasion of Gaza
6. RE: demo on Saturday
7. Time off for trade union duties – draft revised ACAS code of practice
8. RE: Where’s the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in Gaza?
9. RE: Crisis in Gaza
10. RE: Where’s the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in Gaza?
11. RE: Crisis in Gaza
12. Re: demo on Saturday
13. RE: Crisis in Gaza
14. RE: Crisis in Gaza
15. Re: Crisis in Gaza
16. RE: Crisis in Gaza
17. Good news from Norway
18. Re: demo on Saturday
19. Fwd: from Lancet editor to Peter Gabriel speak out on Gaza
20. RE: Crisis in Gaza
21. RE: Crisis in Gaza
22. RE: Crisis in Gaza
23. RE: Crisis in Gaza
24. Re: Crisis in Gaza
25. RE: Crisis in Gaza
26. RE: demo on Saturday
27. Re: demo on Saturday

Sean Wallis, Senior Research Fellow, Survey of English Usage at University College London has this to say:

As someone of Jewish ancestry, I abhor the idea that Jews are above the rest of humanity and are not required to abide by humanitarian norms. Logically there is little difference between “pro-semitism” and “anti-semitism”. Once you accept a distinction between the rights of Jews and the rights of the rest of humanity (or the people of the region), then the distinction can go either way.

Not that he’s a brown-nose or anything, but Wallis’ signature contains a quotation from the UCU’s own joint general secretary:

You have to feel sorry for this government.

They have double standards to maintain.

– Paul Mackney

Trade Union humour!

Another poster responds:

Most offensive, though, is your statement ‘As someone of Jewish ancestry, I abhor the idea that Jews are above the rest of humanity and are not required to abide by humanitarian norms.’ The implication here is that someone (who? Jews? some Jews? we are not told) thinks that Jews are above the rest of humanity and are not required to abide by humanitarian norms. Of course, no-one thinks that, and no-one has said it, but the suggestion that Jews – we – do think it is itself a grotesque antisemitic slur. There, that’s the first time I’ve ever raised the ‘A’ word with respect to someone on this list. If you don’t understand why your statement is a racist libel then perhaps you should undergo some additional antiracist sensitivity training.

The reality is that no-one that I know of has claimed this with respect to Israel’s action. Every defence of Israel that I’ve seen is based on universal principles – i.e. principles that would apply to any state regardless of its ethnicity – such as the right, and indeed duty, of any state to protect its citizens from attack. You may (legitimately) disagree with those arguments, but your racist slur is deeply repugnant. And by the way, your Jewish ancestry is irrelevant, as are your motives. To be clear, it’s what you said that’s offensive and racist.

The notion that Jews think of themselves as above the rest of humanity and not bound by moral laws is a long-standing racist slur, previously only heard on the nazi far right. Perhaps you could accept that this accusation
was at the least ill-judged and apologise for it.

One commentator then argues that the demonstration is ultra vires the objects of the Stop the War Coalition, whose constitution states:

1. The aim of the Coalition should be very simple: to stop the war currently declared by the United States and its allies against
‘terrorism’.

He argues that the attack on Gaza – which he deplores – is nevertheless not part of the US war on terror, and therefore falls outside the ambit of the STWC’s constitution. Accordingly, he calls for UCU banners not to be deployed at Saturday’s march.

Mike Cushman, in response, points out that Tsipi Livni “use the phrase wat on terror abiout 5 times in a few minutes”. His finely turned academic mind produces the following repost:

It’s not what StW says it’s what the Israelis and Bush in backing them say.

And on it goes.

Oh, and I bet you’re all desperate to hear the “good news from Norway”. Well, here it is, courtesy of Shirley Franklin:


The Norwegian Locomotive Drivers Union will take action in solidarity with the Palestinian people tomorrow (8 Jan) at 16.00. There will be a short stoppage of all passenger trains in Norway with an announcement to the passengers to ask their support towards  the union’s action.

The union’s message will read as follows.

This is information to the passengers from the locomotive drivers:

Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station, during which time we will be launching Qassam rockets randomly into Sweden, in the hope that we kill as many ordinary Swedes as possible, the bastards. We have not forgotten their treachery in 1523! The same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway simultaneously.

We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory!

Thank you for your understanding

This action of solidarity will also be taken by the metro and tramway drivers union in Oslo.

Part of that message might have been embellished, slightly.

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