I don’t know many Jewish students but have always assumed they are, like the general population, a rag tag mixed bunch.
There are those that tell us,ad nauseam, otherwise. They do, apparently, all get offended by the same things at the same time. Which is a very antisemitic attitude. This being the case therefore, they can be spoken for, by any organisation that pushes itself forward with ” Jewish” in its name. The brand leader here is Union of Jewish Students.
The current UJS President is Josh Seitler. If Josh is as representative of Jewish students as he would have us believe, it must be said that, on the strength of his recent article in Huff Post, it is high time Jewish students did some growing up.
The article, brimful of narcissism and whining self pity, was a hopelessly transparent and inept attempt to blackmail the NUS and bully its President, Malia Bouattia. Part of, it must be said, a coordinated campaign. Witness Izzy Lenga’s latest histrionics.
The UJS is not a fan of Malia. There is a motion before the upcoming UJS conference to the effect that UJS should cut ties with the NUS. Josh tells us that if Malia does not do this, that, and the other, he wouldn’t be surprised if the motion was carried.
What he requires is a series of ” proper” apologies from Malia, chiefly as follows……
Malia apparently referred to the University of Birmingham as ” a Zionist outpost”. This is probably enough to establish that she is not a big fan of Zionism.
The Hasbara machine of course represents this as her saying that there are too many Jews at Birmingham University. A representation that Josh seems to go along with. In any event , he wants a proper apology, or else.
Zionism, of course, is a basket of political ideologies, that have in common advocacy of the settlement of Jews in what we might call the Holy Land, and might just as easily call the Holey Land. In practice, the active ingredient here, is support for, and apology for, the modern State of Israel and all its numerous racist iniquities.
Malia clearly regards Zionists as political opponents, in much the same way as she probably regards Tories as political opponents. Lamenting the strength of political opponents in a particular location is surely perfectly legitimate. If she had said it was a Tory outpost or a Trot outpost nobody would be whining and crying.
Ah but Josh says, this is different. Disparaging Zionism is an assault on our very identity. Most Jews are Zionist so attacking Zionism is an attack on this identity. An affection for Israel is a kind of protected characteristic . As such Zionism should be exempt from the rough and tumble of political debate and exchange. A political leaning that, uniquely, must not be opposed.
As the Zionist barrister Jonathan Goldberg pointed out in the context of the FUCU case, “you might just as well say that supporting Tottenham Hotspur is a protected characteristic because a lot of Jews do.”
The claim is that ludicrous.
Josh presumably would have it that Malia couldn’t say anything pejorative about Spurs.
Bad news for Arsenal fans.
Nobody is born a Zionist, just as nobody is born a communist. Being a Zionist is a contingent state of affairs. But Jewish students are, as is everyone, free to define themselves however they want. It is nobody’s business but theirs. There is no requirement for the rest of us to bother our heads with it. We can if we want, we can not if we don’t want.It is no business of mine, or of yours, or of the NUS or of Malia Bouattia.
Let us make an important distinction that seems to me is rarely made. There is a difference between opposition to Zionism and the expression thereof, and abusive behaviour towards Jewish students that makes their participation difficult. There is no requirement for someone to tone down their anti Zionism because Jewish students might be offended by it. There is a requirement to respect their right to be where they are and to speak as they may, without, with justification, feeling intimidated and bullied, on a personal level.
There is some of this bullying going on. Not nearly as much as the Zionist machine would have us believe. Israel apologists do have a great propensity for melodrama and exaggeration. Don’t they Ruth? Izzy ? However much there is, is that much too much, and there must be an unequivocal attitude of no pasaran in respect of it.
The UJS tell us that…….
” Jewish Students should have the support and space to explore their connection to and relationship with Israel.”
I can’t quite understand what they mean by ” support”. I can’t see that there is a requirement that someone actively support someone else’s explorations. They can of course, do so if they wish.
If they mean University political forums and Campus space, they hopefully understand that these will be shared spaces, not given over exclusively to their explorations. If anyone gets distressed having to share a space with political views different to their own, maybe a university is not the right place for them.
There is NOTHING you can say about the State of Israel that is antisemitic. Just as there is nothing you can say about The Russian Federation that is anti Slav racism.There may be a very few of you whose strident views on Israel are motivated by antisemitism. If you are one of those very few, please feel free to burn in hell. The rest of you must hold fast to your right to speak as you feel inclined to within the law. And to speak as vigorously as you want.
If, like me, you think The State of Israel is a crappy , racist, kleptomaniacal basket case, then there is no requirement on you not to say so. You will get the antisemitism charge hurled at you but, that, I am afraid, is a little shiralee you will have to bear. Civil liberties, including freedom of expression within the law , were hard won but can be very easily lost. Its very much a case of use it or lose it. Understand that the present tsunami of Zionist McCarthyism is the most intense and coordinated assault on civil liberties in this country that we have witnessed in modern ” normal” times. The universities are very much on the front line.
If you are feeling generous and accused of antisemitism, you could ask for evidence of any hatred of Jews or a wish to discriminate against Jews or a wish to persecute Jews. You could but it will be a waste of time.
Personally I have always found a simple ” fuck off ” works best. But that is just me.
I have one advisory. Do you really want to use Nazi analogies in discourse about Israel ? It doesn’t make you antisemitic, but it makes you silly and highly counterproductive. What is the point in saying things that the least informed Jack and Jill on the street intuitively knows not to be true ? Just an advisory. Its your call.
MALIA HAS NOTHING TO APOLOGISE FOR HERE.
The hapless Josh goes on to demand Malia apologise for “ not acknowledging that only Jewish students can define antisemitism”.
I really ought not to have to say anything more about this absurdity. You all should be laughing your heads off as you read it. I fear that is not the case. So………
Antisemitism is an established expression in the English language that has a perfectly well understood meaning. It means hatred of Jews, discrimination against Jews, persecution of Jews or some combination thereof.
The meanings of words and expressions are not established by stipulation, They are not established by bums on chairs around a table. A parliamentary Committee table, say, or a table at UJS HQ.
Jewish students have no more status than anyone else when it comes to the meanings of words and expressions in the English language. Meanings are established by observation of the sum force of the uses of the expression, by the speakers of the language. In the case of English 1.5 billion of them.These meanings can be found in any good dictionary.
Not only is this a ludicrous and narcissistic attempt at linguistic fascism, an attempt to disenfranchise the English speaking world, but is also indicative of a certain kind of megalomania.
Further ” a word means what I mean by it ” was one of the surer signs that Humpty Dumpty was nuts.
The UJS risk landing themselves with one hell of a logistical problem. Having stipulated a change in the meaning of “antisemitism,” how do they propose informing the 1.5 billion speakers of the language that it no longer means what they thought it meant. The biggest mass mail out in the history of the world ? Or do they plan not to bother and just leave the rest of us in ignorance?
However if Jewish students want to be the sole arbiters of the meaning of antisemitism because they are the potential victims , then they would presumably accept that only the Palestinians can define Zionism.
NOTHING FOR MALIA TO APOLOGISE FOR HERE
An increasingly over excited Josh then demands Malia apologise for her non acceptance of the mythical EUMC working definition of antisemitism.
Well he seems to be getting himself in a bit of a tizz here. Having told us that only Jewish students can define antisemitism, he now tells us that agencies of the European Union can define antisemitism. It is unlikely that all the members of EU agencies are Jewish students at UK universities.
The unkind ones among you might say Josh seems a bit dim. I couldn’t possibly comment.
But anyway, since there is no such thing as a EUMC definition of antisemitism and there never has been such a thing as a EUMC definition of antisemitism, it seems a bit cruel of Josh to require that Malia accept such a non thing.
For how this EUMC myth came to be see here
If you can’t be bothered, the active ingredient is …..
From the FRA, the new name of the EUMC
” We are not aware of any official definition of antisemitism.”
” We have never viewed the document as a valid definition of antisemitism”.
” The document has been pulled along with other NON OFFICIAL documents”.
” The Agency does not need to develop its own definition of antisemitism in order to research these issues” .
” The Agency has no mandate to develop its own definitions.”.
An FRA press officer went on to explain to the BBC Trust that the definition was ” never adopted by the European Union.”
The European Commission Directorate emphasised ” Neither the Commission nor the European Union have an established definition of antisemitism and there is no policy to create one.”
NOTHING FOR MALIA TO APOLOGISE FOR HERE
If the UJS does vote to bite off its nose to spite its face, take its bat home, lower lips a trembling,it is hard to see how it hurts NUS. The only sane response would be to wish them luck as you wave them goodbye.