A letter to UCU
By Guy Handelman, May 30, 2007
Source: Recieved via e-mail from Guy (with permission to publish)
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to inform you of my deep distress for the recent boycott imposed upon Israeli academics by the British University and Colleges Union (UCU). As an advocate of academic freedom, I find any boycott of reliable scholarship intolerable even if that scholarship is coming from an oppositional nation. Because the UCU no doubt knows that Britain and Israel currently have friendly relationship, it appears to me that the UCU is trying to create an artificial wedge of opposition where none currently exists. Because a decrease in trust between Britain and Israel can only exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for English, Israeli, and even Palestinian citizens, the onus is on the UCU leadership to explain what goals this surge in hostility is designed to achieve and for whom.
Such a boycott is a shallow view of world affairs and human rights violations especially in comparison to the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, the caste system in southern Asia, the lack of religious freedom and women's rights in the Arab world, and the discrimination against homosexuals in Eastern Europe. Israel is guilty of none of the above.
The most that can be said about Israel is that it dealt with the Palestinian refugee problem created in the aftermath of its first war in an imperfect way. This English boycott of Israel is especially ironic because the way England dealt with the Jewish refugee problem created by the Holocaust was much less perfect! Immediately after the Jewish leadership in the British Mandate for Palestine accepted the Peel Commission in 1936 for a two-state peace solution, the Arab population of the British Mandate for Palestine actively fought the Jewish population throughout the rest of the 1930s (there were several documented massacres of Jewish civilians by Arab nationalists). Because of the outbreak of the ARAB violence, the British government created quotas on JEWISH immigration of Holocaust refugees in order to keep the status quo: an Arab community hostile to the British Mandate and the Jews in Palestine. Of course, this so-called strategy ultimately failed to quell the Arabs or keep British hegemony in Palestine for very long.
It appears that the UCU is using a similar strategy with this boycott! The boycott comes after continuous daily rockets sent from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli civilian city of Sderot almost immediately following Israel's unilateral move for peace by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. The parallels of 2007 to 1937 are astounding in its proud display of British ignorance of the region, its politics, and its people. If history has taught us anything, it is that such a lack of understanding will ultimately produce a British citizenry with its tail between its legs, a Middle East that is even less stable, and a harsh judgment of the current generation by generations to come.
Published at Zionism On The Web with permission of the author.