Aug 26, 2008 21:02 | Updated Aug 26, 2008 23:01
By JONNY PAUL, LONDON
A member of the British academic union that voted to reintroduce a boycott of Israeli academia has posted a link on the union's Web site to an anti-Semitic article on the Web site of former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Jenna Delich, a member of the University and College Union, posted a message on the UCU Web site's activist list with a link to the article.
Delich's message was in support of a colleague who backs the boycott call. It reads: "John, in support to your link this may be a long but also an interesting reading: www.davidduke.com/general/humanitarian-disaster-595.html. No comment necessary. The facts are speaking for themselves, Jenna."
The article, "Racism, not Defense, at the Heart of Israeli Politics," is an attack on the "Israeli oligarchs" and was circulated to hundreds of the union's active members. It was written by a 9/11 conspiracy theorist named Joe Quinn.
In the article he writes: "There is much evidence to warrant an in-depth investigation of the role played by agents of Israel in the 9/11 attacks. Yet the ubiquitous, tiresome and completely baseless threat of being labelled "anti-Semitic‚" for criticizing the actions of the Israeli government effectively prevents all but the most courageous from following the leads. Coincidence? We think not...
"Just what level of power do Israeli interests wield in the halls of power in the US that any investigation into Israeli spying activities on US soil against US intelligence agencies can be so completely quashed? Would this constitute a level of power and control that would allow those interests to carry off a terrorist attack like 9/11 and have it blamed on 'Arab terrorists?'"
Quinn links to the Web site of convicted Holocaust-denier David Irving saying: "On the morning of 9/11 and just as the WTC towers were crumbling, the five Israelis were caught doing the 'happy dance' as they videotaped the Twin Towers fall." The piece closes with the claim: "Either someone does something about these sick psychopaths, or they, and their kind in Washington and around the world, will destroy us all."
The link was discovered by Engage, a group of left-wing trade unionists and academics active in the anti-boycott campaign.
Dr. David Hirsh, lecturer at University of London's Goldsmiths College and editor of the Engage Web site, said: "Since 2003 academic unions have been dominated by a campaign to exclude Israelis, and nobody else, from UK campuses. We have warned the [UCU] general-secretary on numerous occasions that this campaign has imported anti-Semitic ways of thinking into our union, she either didn't understand or didn't care. That the union is now circulating racist material should be understood as a manifestation of its institutional anti-Semitism; it cannot be written off as yet another random accident."
Hirsh said Delich's e-mails on the activist list had already been the subject of two formal complaints to the union. However, the UCU judged that the evidence was unpersuasive.
Dr. Jon Pike, a member of the UCU national executive but speaking in a personal capacity, said: "I'm not surprised that anti-Semitic material has again dropped into my inbox from the union activists' list. What is shocking is the failure of the union's internal procedures to do anything about this. UCU prides itself on being an anti-racist union. In fact, it is probably the most complacent public institution in Britain in relation to increasing anti-Semitism and the leadership turns a blind eye, or worse, to the racism in the union. Behind all this is the campaign of discrimination against Israeli academics which is fostered by some in the union and encouraged by the leadership."
Eve Garrard, senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Keele University in Staffordshire, said: "This is precisely the kind of thing which drove me recently to resign from the UCU. It has become a union which is complacent about anti-Semitism: It regards prejudicial hostility toward Jews, from within the union itself, as something too unimportant for it to bother with. I didn't feel able to remain in an institution which treats anti-Semitism indulgently, as a special exception to a generally anti-racist stance."
The UCU activist e-mail list contains around 700 members. Any union member may subscribe and the list is administrated and monitored by the union.
"Anti-Semitism is routinely tolerated on the activist list when it is expressed in the language of hostility to Israel," Hirsh said. "Only a small group of Jews and anti-racists have been standing up against this culture on the list. Some have been excluded from the list on trumped up charges; others have been driven off the list by continual accusations of bad faith. Some have left the union because they cannot bear to pay their dues to what they consider to be an anti-Semitic organization."
In May, the UCU voted on a motion at its annual conference in Manchester to reintroduce an academic boycott of Israel. The called on union members "to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating."