The new president of Britain’s National Union of Students is problematic

Is there any “progressive” organization more misguided, more Authoritarian Leftist, and yes, more bigoted, than Britain’s National Union of Students? Their pervasive policy of “no-platforming,” their authoritarian attempts to censor views they don’t like, their coddling of Muslim groups that are anti-feminist and anti-gay—all bely their claim that they’re “progressive.” In reality, the organization is fascistic, but pretending to be Leftist.

If you had any doubt about that, get a load of the bigot they’ve just elected as NUS President, Malia Bouattia. You can read about her either in the Guardian or The Jewish Chronicle (see also here; people will discount the second source so I include the first)

Here are some comments that Bouattia made in 2014—speaking in her official capacity as NUS Black Students Officer—at a Tricontinental Anti-imperialist Platform and Invent the Future conference in September 2014. The video was subsequently removed (why is that?), but was leaked and is now back online:

Here is some of what she said:

“The notion of resistance has been perhaps washed out of our understanding of how colonised people will obtain their physical emancipation…With mainstream, Zionist-led media outlets …resistance is presented as an act of terrorism.

“But instead of us remembering that this has always been the case throughout struggles against white supremacy, it’s become an accepted discourse among too many…

“Internalised Islamophobia has also enabled our obsession with convincing non-Muslims of our non-violent and peaceful nature, so we’re taking things a step further and dangerously condemning the resistance, branding groups and individuals as terrorists to disassociate from them, but at the same time supporting their liberation which is a very strange contradiction.

“There’s a need to change how we think about these things. After all, the alternative to resistance is what we’ve been observing over the last 20 years or so, which is ‘peace talks’… essentially the strengthening of the colonial project.

“To consider that Palestine will be free only by means of fundraising, non-violent protest and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is problematic… My issue is that whilst at time it’s tactically used, or presented as the non-violent option, it can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people…

“We also need to remember the Palestinians on the ground… who are actively sustaining the fight and the resistance against occupation and perhaps there’s a need to …take orders if we are to really show some form of solidarity”.

Note the reference to the “Mainstream, Zionist-led media outlets.” Haven’t you heard that before? It’s coded anti-Semitism, just as “states rights” was American code for “segregation” in the Sixties. Bouattia is raising the trope of “Jews controlling the world,” as in the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The phrase “the resistance” is also a euphemism, often used by pro-Palestinians, to mean “the violent assault and killing of Israeli civilians.” I believe she is justifying that here, and that’s supported by her claim that non-violent resistance is ineffectual, and that we should stop branding those who kill innocents as “terrorists.”

Bouattia has a long history of not only pro-Palestinian views, but also “anti-Zionist” views, which are views that Israel has no right to exist as a state or as a homeland for displaced Jews. But arguing that Israel has no right to exist at all, as many BDS supporters do, is a non-starter: it will not facilitate a two-state solution, or help remove settlers from the occupied areas. Nor will approving the killing of civilians—the “the resistance”. Those who kill unarmed Israeli civilians, including women and children, are celebrated as heroes in Gaza. That’s reprehensible. Yet when an Israeli soldier recently killed a wounded Palestianian, he was charged with manslaughter. Why is this difference ignored? It’s the bigotry of low expectations.

Besides no-platforming, the NUS has a history of coddling Muslim organizations, even those who are homophobic and misogynistic. This is also bigotry. The NUS—or at least freedom of speech—is in for a hard time under Boutattia’s tenure,

The Chronicle also reports this (my emphasis):

The warning signs have been there for years for all to see. It was Malia Bouattia who led the charge at the NUS to block a motion that sought to condemn ISIS and show solidarity to the Kurds fighting them, because it was deemed “Islamophobic.”

At this same meeting the NUS did pass a motion to boycott UKIP, and agreed to email every student in the country on polling day telling them to do likewise. Thus, in a sign of the terrible times in which we live, Britain’s student leadership found it easier to condemn UKIP than ISIS.

. . In 2011 Ms Bouattia co-authored a blog which lists a “large Jewish society” – by which she now insists she meant “Zionists” – as being one of the challenges at Birmingham University. But she even considers the UK government’s beleaguered Prevent strategy against extremism to be a result of the ‘Zionist lobby’.

Her bid for president was endorsed by the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), a group that has been banned by the NUS since 2004 after publishing material on its website originally published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denial websites, as well as their own post entitled “Take your holocaust, roll it nice and tight and shove it up your (be creative)!” MPACUK’s endorsement of her candidacy would be less concerning if she hadn’t appeared to welcome it, by replying “Thank you :-))”.

The new NUS president insists her concerns revolve around Zionism, not Judaism, and that her arguments are political, not faith based. But in an atmosphere in which the far-left and far-right are competing for people’s increased anger, is it any surprise that the same conference that saw her elected president applauded a speaker who argued that the NUS should not commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, because “it’s not inclusive.”

I’ve put that video below. The message is “we should just have a day in which we condemn every genocide.”

Fine. Then if we condemn Israeli misdeeds, we should condemn Palestinian misdeeds as well. And, if we’re going to decry the oppression of Muslims, we must also decry the oppression of gays and women by Muslims—and Muslim student societies.

There’s a fat chance that the NUS will do that! I find it amusing, in the following video, that the NUS applauds a call to commemorate every genocide, but won’t extend that philosophy to condemning every form of oppression and bigotry. And really, there’s no need to condemn everything at once: you just call out all malfeasances, case by case, as they come up. The NUS, of course, doesn’t do that: they’re “selective.” They are an organization marinated in identity politics and virtue signaling: the most obstructive and useless traits of the Authoritarian Left.

As Hannah Weisfeld notes in the Guardian:

Perhaps Bouattia does not know that significant numbers of Jews in this country have friends and close family in Israel and therefore she doesn’t realise why saying that “boycott can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people” makes many Jewish students recoil. When she says “non-violent” resistance is not enough, she is endorsing violent resistance against their friends and family. Will Jewish students want to participate in broader student politics knowing the president of their union thinks the potential killing of their friends and family is a legitimate “act of resistance”?

Bouattia is well within her rights to criticise the policies of the Israeli government. Indeed, many British Jews do. She is perfectly entitled to say she is not a Zionist. But it seems she is unable to understand why invoking antisemitic tropes and supporting armed resistance against Israelis causes deep offence. And when she says, “For me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity.

What we can expect—and what I predict—is that under Bouattia the NUS will become the poster child for the Authoritarian Left. Our proper response to its shenanigans is not only to criticize it, but to mock it and satirize it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 9.25.13 AM

Malia Bouattia. Photo: NUS/PA

UPDATE: I’ll add a comment from a Spiked piece criticizing the NUS; reader Jay gave the link in the comments below. Two excerpts from the piece:

No Platform, Safe Spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings – whatever form it comes in, campus censorship is borne of a barely veiled contempt for students. The NUS’s byzantine regime of speech codes, blacklists and disciplinary policies is fuelled by a view of students as either easily upset babies or goose-steppers in-waiting. Worse still, censorship makes you dumb. Spend half an hour in the NUS echo chamber and you’ll see what I mean. To hone your ideas, you need to be free to argue and test them. To find out about new ones, you need to be free to listen.

. . . NUS politicos like to pose as radicals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Aside from passing the odd motion condemning Israel (I’m sure that made Netanyahu blink), the NUS’s stock-in-trade is micromanaging campus life. It believes students are too delicate to deal with the world, let alone try to change it. Student politics has never been perfect. But in the past it at least provided an outlet for students’ radical ambitions. Insisting on being treated like adults is the first step toward making history. A union that harnesses that spirit, is the union that students need.

 

66 Comments

  1. Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    From The Times this morning (paywall link):

    “Students at the University of Oxford declared yesterday that they would seek to vote to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS), saying that it no longer spoke for them after Malia Bouattia was appointed on Wednesday.”

    • Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      That is excellent news. I hope they do disaffiliate.

      • Taz
        Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        From BBC News:

        Universities where groups lobbying for disaffiliation referendums have already started campaigning include Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Exeter and Aberystwyth and Kings College London.

    • eric
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      They are BDSing from the NUS! 🙂

      • Dermot C
        Posted April 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        I’d be sanguine about the strength of feeling about disaffiliation if my experience back in the early 80s is anything to go by. In those politically-charged times SUs were promising all the time to disaffiliate, usually from the traditional right, but I don’t think it ever happened. In other words, it was a common rumour not acted upon.

        Things may be different now: we didn’t have the ability of the Islamists to get the vote out and the regressive left fellow-travellers to deal with.

        • eric
          Posted April 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

          I think the response by Oxford is already into the “good” stage and now we’re just talking about the different varieties of good they can do. Aware and actively objecting was the big hump. At this point whether they disaffiliate, or stay in and actively work to change the leadership over the next several years, it’s all good.

  2. Cindy
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    sub

  3. Dermot C
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    And Ms. Bouattia has called Birmingham University a ‘Zionist outpost in British higher education’.

    This is the motion, which she refused to support, condemning ISIS, calling it ‘blatant Islamophobia’.

    ‘NUS National Executive Committee notes:
    1. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq – which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred.
    NUS NEC believes
    1. That the people of Iraq have suffered for years under the sectarian and brutally repressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US/UK invasion and occupation, the current sectarian regime linked to both the US and Iran, and now the barbaric repression of the “Islamic State” organisation.
    2. That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against women in IS-occupied areas, while minorities are being ethnically cleansed.
    NUS NEC resolves
    1. To work with the International Students’ Campaign to support Iraqi, Syrian and other international students in the UK affected by this situation.
    2. To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular support the hard-pressed student, workers’ and women’s organisations against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.
    3. To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.
    4. To condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.
    5. Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding the IS or supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.
    6. To make contact with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and in the UK, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.
    7. To issue a statement on the above basis.’

    If that is ‘Islamophobic’ I’m Ian Hislop.

    Raza Nadim of MPACUK warmly supported Ms. Bouattia in her election. His organization is banned from speaking at Universities (a ban with which I disagree) for their repeated anti-Semitism. Mr. Nadim could not find it in himself to condemn stoning people to death. The evidence is pictured below.

    He also, in an incoherent statistical neologism, called Israel ‘100% worse than ISIS’. Here:

    http://www.gspellchecker.com/…/raza-nadim-israel-is…/

    Why is Mr. Nadim important in Ms. Bouattia’s story? Because she thanked him for his support, while later claiming that she did not know of his connections.

    Now the BBC reports that students from several universities are considering disaffiliating from the NUS in protest at the election of Ms. Bouattia. Here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36109164

    Finally, even Trevor Phillips, the man largely responsible for the spread of the unhelpful term ‘Islamophobia’, regrets its use. As many of us have spotted for years it conflates criticism with the doctrine of Islam with anti-Muslim bigotry. It’s time we stopped using the term and did not employ a phrase ‘coined by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons’: an aphorism coined by Andrew Cummins of Birmingham. I am not aware of his contribution to the world Jewish conspiracy.

    • Dermot C
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Ignore the ‘The evidence is pictured below…’ comment. The evidence comes from a tw**t by Mr. Nadim.

    • eric
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      If that is ‘Islamophobic’ I’m Ian Hislop.

      Yeah, no kidding. Talking about improving Sunni/Shia relations is anti-Islamic? Supporting Syrians and Kurds is anti-Islamic? In what universe?

      I think she must’ve bought one too many products from the establishment Jerry just visited.

    • Posted April 23, 2016 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      This is deeply troubling, the extent of her misinformation, bias and skewed views. I would guess that there are a significant number who share her views too. Even more troubling.

  4. Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    As I often say lately, for the “left”, antisemitism is politically correct.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get this assertion that I hear all the time that there is a large Jewish community. I’ve even had people say to me that the US supports Israel because there are so many Jews in the US. Jews are one of the smallest groups in the US! I’m sure they are also far from a majority in the UK! And what’s really sad, is people just accept this as fact when people say it and then make the leap that this “large group of people” is throwing its weight around oppressing others.

    • eric
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Those demographics are cooked up by the Zionist conspiracy! Don’t believe them! 🙂

      Yes we do seem to be seeing conflicting claims here. There’s both the standard “don’t let this [implied: small] Zionist group control our [implied: we are the majority] government” theme, and this new “biiiig campus group keeping us down” theme. But who ever said conspiracy nuts had to be internally consistent?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      I suppose the relevant question would be how much influence Jews have in US government circles. Not so much the size of the Jewish community.

      (I don’t know the answer to that one).

      cr

    • Posted April 23, 2016 at 4:54 am | Permalink

      Yes, Jews are a very small percentage of the population in both the US and UK. However since they tend to highly value education and intellectual pursuits, they have more representation in the upper echelons of politics and business than you would expect given their representation in the general population. For example just look at the composition of the US Supreme Court or UK parliament.

      Of course this would happen with any other minority group that strongly valued education. Unfortunately it easily feeds into an anti-semitic narrative of “the Jews controlling everything”.

    • Posted April 23, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      I think that those who consider every Jewish community “too large” have gone from marginal to mainstream.

  6. Jonathan Dore
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know the voting process for NUS officers? As a student more than 30 years ago I don’t remember ever paying attention to, or voting in, NUS elections (though I certainly did in national and local government ones). If the officers are elected only be delegates, rather than by all students, then this sort of bizarre appointment is almost inevitable in the virtue-signalling echo chamber.

    • Graham Head
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      BBC Newsnight yesterday interviewed one of the leaders of the Oxford campaign to disaffiliate. He made the point that the president is only elected by a small number of delegates.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I honestly can’t remember. I think I voted on several occasions for NUS reps, SRC chiefs etc (I had friends stand for various posts), and I think they were direct elections. For NUS elections though, I can’t recall having ever participated.

  7. Malgorzata
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    sub.

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    You know who else’s anti-Jewish stance was motivated by politics and not religion…? It’s very easy to dismiss peace as an option when you aren’t either going to be behind or in front of the bayonet. Frankly, for all the hand-wringing, Bouattia’s talk sounds like so much imperialist rhetoric to me. She doesn’t want to fight, but by jingo if they do….

  9. Posted April 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    According to this internet site:

    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/usjewpop.html

    there were 6,678,855 Jews living in the U.S. in 2014. (They do say that some might have been counted more than once.)

    In studying the History of the Jews years ago, I received the impression that, although a relatively small proportion of the U.S. population is Jewish, a relatively high percentage of that Jewish population are people noted for their accomplishments and benefits to the people of the U.S. I can vouch for the number of people important to my well-being that are Jewish.

    Lest I be accused of bias, I should also mention that there are Muslim people that
    are equally important in my life.

    And on and on…

  10. Rich Sanderson
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    You’ll find a large contingent of the regressive left will be very quiet on this, for they have a history of supporting and enabling bigots like Malia simply because they are higher up the “oppression scale”. That is why they refuse to criticise Islamists who are horribly misogynist and homophobic. In fact, Islamist hate preachers seem to get onto speaking events and platforms in colleges very easily. Liberals and feminists, such as Kate Smurthwaite (who might have some views you disagree with, such as on sex work), find herself “no-platformed”. Yet, we keep finding instances of NUS officers defending and hosting CAGE events. Malia herself was congratulated by CAGE and MPAC (two Islamist fronts) straight away.

    Expect silence from the Islamist enablers at FreeThoughtBlogs and The Orbit. Those traitors to liberalism. They increasingly share the CJ Werleman view that Islamists are the “true Muslims”, and Muslim moderates and progressives such as Asra Nomani and Maajid Nawaz are “native informants” or “house Muslims”. There are far worse slurs that they have come out with.

    There is, also, a growing anti-Semitism problem amongst the regressive left and SJWs.

  11. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    “Yet when an Israeli soldier recently killed a wounded Palestianian, he was charged with manslaughter.”

    I’m afraid it’s not that simple. The Palestinian had attacked another Israeli soldier, he (the Palestinian) had been injured and was lying on the ground. Is it ever acceptable to shoot a helpless enemy?
    According to other articles linked off that page, a majority of Israelis don’t think the soldier should have been arrested.

    The video was released by an Israeli human rights group. (It is a point in favour of Israel that such groups exist.) Without the video, and the accompanying bad press, would any charges have been laid?

    (Not condemning Israel over this but maybe they could do better).

    cr

    • Posted April 23, 2016 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      As an Israeli and an infantry reserve officer, I tell you that this is as simple as simple can be.
      The soldier belongs to extremist groups. Shortly after the shooting he said that “terrorists should die”. This makes his guilt an easy matter.
      My own view is that regardless of the argument about the right punishment for terrorists, it’s not for every individual soldier to decide and ignore military commands and the law. This soldier clearly violated both and must be punished for it.
      I find it hard to believe that most Israelis think that the soldier should be prosecuted. Those who promote this are the rightist nutjobs who support him and those on the extreme left who try to use this incident to portray Israel as a fascist society, for which they didn’t need that soldier.
      Given the draft, all kinds of people get into the IDF, some of them shouldn’t serve in front units, where they are given dangerous powers, and use them to do wrong. Israel and its military do prosecute soldiers who go out of line, with and without media coverage.
      I was personally under criminal investigation for

      • Posted April 23, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

        URGH! (an edit button is most needed).
        I was personally under criminal investigation for mistakenly killing a Palestinian civilians IN BATTLE(!). It took months of very unpleasant interrogations before I was cleared of the charges.
        There is no comparison between the Israeli treatment of such incidents and the Palestinians glorification of terror and terrorists.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 23, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          I thought when you suddenly went silent, the Mossad had intervened. 🙂

          • Posted April 23, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

            I am too busy to reply, but I read WEIT regularly.
            Good to see that anyone noticed.

  12. Edward Duggal
    Posted April 23, 2016 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    The killing of civilians in Gaza by Israel was also celebrated in Israel, if you’ve forgotten. It’s not just some Palestinians who celebrate the killing of Israeli civilians; Israelis also celebrate the killing of Palestinian civilians.

    The IDF soldier who murdered the Palestinian was sentenced, only after numerous people, including Netanyahu, tried to act as an apologist for him. Most Israelis supported him.

    Anti-Zionism does not claim that Israel does not have a right to exist. It claims that a homeland specifically for the Jewish people is a racist and colonialist concept, which it is. Anyone who claims to be a Zionist is supporting a racist and colonialist project, which has continued ever since the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948. That’s what Zionism resulted in.

    • Dave
      Posted April 23, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      “Anti-Zionism does not claim that Israel does not have a right to exist. It claims that a homeland specifically for the Jewish people is a racist and colonialist concept, which it is.”

      There is nothing “racist” about Israel. Your claim that Israel is a homeland specifically for Jews is refuted by the fact that approximately 20% of its citizens are arab muslims. As far as I’m aware, anyone, whether Jewish or not, can apply to become an Israeli citizen. Israel is a model of ethnic, political and religious pluralism in comparison with the brutal, despotic muslim-majority states that it shares the region with.

      Apart from a few fanatics, no-one in Israel celebrates the death of Palestinian civilians. The people who do are the leaders of the Palestinian terror gangs who deliberately site their rocket launchers and other armaments in hospitals, schools and other civilian areas so that they cynically exploit the resulting casualties for their own self-serving propaganda.

  13. asker
    Posted April 23, 2016 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    “also “anti-Zionist” views, which are views that Israel has no right to exist as a state or as a homeland for displaced Jews.”

    The term anti-Zionist (like Zionist) is used in multiple ways, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Zionism . It looks like you assume that everyone using the term uses it in the the most problematic sense.

    “… But arguing that Israel has no right to exist at all, as many BDS supporters do …”

    Is there any empirical research into how many of the BDS supporters who argue that? I lean towards BDS (though have no strongly settled opinion on the matter) but I do think Israel should continue to exist as a state.

    • Posted April 23, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      The essence of BDS is starving Israel into sumbmission to its enemies, who pursue its annihilation. It does not matter how many of the BDS supporters openly argue that, or even realize it fully. It is their deeds that matter.

      • asker
        Posted April 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Hi Mayamarkov, I’m quite skeptical of claims of “essences”. If someone asserts that “many BDS supporters” argue something X then I think it is ok to ask what the evidence is for that factual claim. Don’t you agree?

        I also do think it matters what the people supporting BDS (including those organizing BDS events and so on) argue and think and what goals they want the campaign to bring about.

        • Posted April 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          I think there is a vast difference between the thinking of those organizing BDS events and those supporting BDS. I suppose the majority of the latter think that they are engaging in a beneficial campaign to improve human rights. I think that, to reach to the essence of the matter, it is enough for them to ask themselves why there is no BDS directed to countries with a much worse human rights record, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China etc., and even to countries engaged in crimes against humanity, such as Syria. To me, singling out the only Jewish-majority country is telltale.

          • asker
            Posted April 24, 2016 at 3:30 am | Permalink

            Hi again.

            “I think there is a vast difference between the thinking of those organizing BDS events and those supporting BDS.”

            Let me then ask: do you have any empirical evidence on the what proportion of those organizing BDS events who thinks what?

            “it is enough for them to ask themselves why there is no BDS directed to countries with a much worse human rights record”

            That is a commonly heard argument. I have seen a reply along these lines: Israel is a democracy and has for several historical reasons strong ties to the west (EU / US) – in terms of trade, culture and arts, political connections, military cooperation and so on. Given these special ties and given the democratic rule the prospect for a BDS type campaign to have effects is bigger than in the case of e.g. Saudi Arabia.

            Another reply is that there is a significant diaspora both of jewish people and palestinian people in the west and it is to be expected that those subpopulations tend to have a particular interest in that conflict. That explains a certain level of activity on the issue. Other people with no particular background in either group but who “shop around” for some justice issue to add effort and who could as well have spent effort on campaigns concerning Saudi or India or some other country are more likely to get into one where there is already some degree of organizational effort. That explanation doesn’t presuppose that there is anything special with Israel, only that people tend to get on existing organizational efforts to a larger degree than starting their own.

            Thirdly the Israel/Palestine issue is longstanding and has intertwined strongly with issues concerning the role of the west in the world and discussions concerning colonialism/interventionism/imperialism. I don’t doubt that antisemitism (and also islamophobia/racism) has played a role in the history of the issue. But I don’t think that fact is sufficient for concluding what BDS (supporters and organizers) are about today nor settle any direction that such campaigns would necessarilty lead to if they gained more traction.

            I myself think all these three replies are pretty promising, but I’m not sure just how long they take us.

            As I said initially I lean toward BDS but don’t have a firm opinion on the topic. That is why I got curious about the very strong factual claims about BDS supporters views here.

            • Posted April 24, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

              “Do you have any empirical evidence on the what proportion of those organizing BDS events who thinks what?”
              No, partly because where I live (Bulgaria) there is no BDS. However, I see that those leading the movement, e.g. the lady featured in this post, are more often than not people of strong anti-Jewish bias.
              The BDS Web page (https://bdsmovement.net/) says that “Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call.” I am impressed by this language (“apartheid”), combined with lack of acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist, a right denied by “Palestinian civil society”.
              About the followers, I think your description of them as people “shopping around for some justice issue” is right on target.
              I used to support the Palestinians, but gradually went to the other side. The last straw was the massive suicide bombing campaign after Sept. 11.

              • asker
                Posted April 24, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                “No, partly because where I live (Bulgaria) there is no BDS. However, I see that those leading the movement, e.g. the lady featured in this post, are more often than not people of strong anti-Jewish bias.”

                That “more often than not” claim sound like a statistical claim. But there is still no evidence given for it.

                “I am impressed by this language (“apartheid”), combined with lack of acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist, a right denied by “Palestinian civil society”.”

                Well one way to interpret the apartheid reference is to the feature that in areas that has for a long time been under de facto israeli military control the lives of different people in terms of access to health care, food, electricity, education and so on are systematically and starkly different. I can understand how people will dislike such a situation without having any further malignant agenda. That statement also does not entail a wish for a world with no israeli state.

                The fact that the statement does not affirm a wish for a world *with* an israeli state also does not entail a wish for a world *without* an israeli state. On the contrary the reference to compliance with international law seems to rule out any such wish, since I don’t see how ending Israel as a state altogether would be supported by international law. Also unless the “palestinian civil society” phrase is specified further I don’t think it can be fairly interpreted as some kind of code or hint for a wish to end Israel as a state either.

                FWIW I meant the “shopping around” in a value neutral sense. I see nothing bad or malignant about some perhaps young person wishing to get engaged in a justice issue without having a very definite cause in mind in advance (which would likely mean a cause given through parental influence).

              • Malgorzata
                Posted April 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

                Here is an article written by a Lebanese-Canadian Arab about BDS and its possible consquences for Palestinians. You wrote previously that you want to know more about BDS to take a position and I thought that you might find this article interesting (BTW, the author, Fred Maroun, is on the left of the Canadian political scene, unfortunately he finds that publishing such articles is easier in Gatestone Institute and Israeli press than in the left press in the West):
                http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7835/bds-palestinian-state

              • Posted April 24, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

                “Shopping around” indeed is neutral. However, I doubt that it will still be neutral by the time shopping is finished – I think the content of the “basket” will matter.
                “The fact that the statement does not affirm a wish for a world *with* an Israeli state also does not entail a wish for a world *without* an Israeli state. On the contrary the reference to compliance with international law seems to rule out any such wish…”
                The wish is not ruled out at all, because compliance with international law is always demanded of Israel and never of the Palestinians and their elected representatives. Hamas’ charter includes the abolition of Israel as a goal, and Hamas is ruling in Gaza in accordance with the will of Palestinian voters (provided that the elections were fair). When missiles are fired into Israel from Gaza, I never hear from the international community demands for this to stop – only demands to Israel to stop defending itself.
                I think, however, that I’d better stop, because you seem motivated to collect more motivation and decide by yourself, and I have a gift to convince interlocutors in the opposite of what I want, esp. across cultures.

              • asker
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

                ” “Shopping around” indeed is neutral. However, I doubt that it will still be neutral by the time shopping is finished – I think the content of the “basket” will matter.”

                Obviously. But my point was that such “shopping” does not entail that the cause they ended up with is suspect.

                “When missiles are fired into Israel from Gaza, I never hear from the international community demands for this to stop”

                That claim really surprises me. Since it is very easy to do find such demands. For example 2 seconds on google got me this
                http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53130 That is a small example of course. But I think if you spend 15 minutes researching UN statements online you would find more instances of the UN condemning Hamas rocket firings. Could you try that and report back here if you find no such UN condemnations (which would greatly surprise me)?

                “The wish is not ruled out at all, because compliance with international law is always demanded of Israel and never of the Palestinians and their elected representatives.”

                I you here mean to say that you think that the appeal to international law in the BDS quote is not really genuinely made then I would ask for evidence for that.

                “I think, however, that I’d better stop”

                Ok thank you for the discussion. I will sum up a few things here:

                1 you wrote “it is enough for them to ask themselves why there is no BDS directed to countries with a much worse human rights record” to which I gave three possible replies. You did not give any objection to any of those three replies.
                2 You made a statistical claim (the “more often than not” claim) but have not provided any evidence for it.
                3 You faulted the BDS quote for the use of the phrase “apartheid”. I gave an alternative explanation for the use of that phrase in this context that didn’t presuppose anti-semitism or any wish for a world with no israeli state. You did not reply to that alternative explanation.

              • asker
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

                Thank you Malgorzata. However I did not find much of use in that article I’m afraid. The article mostly speculates about how israelis might react to the BDS movement.

                The article has very little factual information about the BDS movement itself. For example it links to another article that links to a youtube clip where a single person who is prominent in BDS makes a claim. Is that representative for the entire BDS movement? No evidence for that is given.

                I know that the topic of one or two state solutions is very strongly contested ground. I suspect the articles contribution to that debate will only convince those who are already strongly convinced of a specific position on that topic.

                The article also claims that “A one-state solution with equal rights for all would however be fatal to Israel” (without further explanation or evidence). Why think that equal rights for all would be fatal to Israel?

              • Malgorzata
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

                I’m sorry that you found this article not informative. There are many statements made by the founders and leaders of the BDS movement in exactly the same spirit as the one linked in the article. You can find them without much problems on the Internet. About “one state with equal rights”. If you know anything about the history of Arab-Jew relations from the times long before the rise of modern Zionism, if you know anything about the history of minorities in Arab/Muslim countries, if you know anything about the history of Lebanon, you would understand why for Jews living in an Israel with an Arab majority would be a catastrophy at best, and genocide at worst.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

                “Why think that equal rights for all would be fatal to Israel?”

                Birth rates, presumably.

                cr

              • asker
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

                Malgorzata:
                “There are many statements made by the founders and leaders of the BDS movement in exactly the same spirit as the one linked in the article. You can find them without much problems on the Internet.”

                The trouble is that it is hard for me to get a good grasp of what is representative for the BDS movement through such scattershot googling. For any political movement or organization I except some people who say bad or even malignant things and I don’t expect BDS to be an exception to that. Such problematic expression can be found also for israeli political representatives after all. But some stronger claims where made in this thread and that is why I asked for evidence of a statistical kind.

                “If you know anything about the history of Arab-Jew relations … for Jews living in an Israel with an Arab majority would be a catastrophy at best, and genocide at worst.”

                As long as the state persisted as “one state with equal rights” then I don’t see how there would be a catastrophe if there were changes in the proportions of the population subgroups. So it looks like you assume that such a state could not persist like that for long. But how can you possibly know that in advance? It looks like you assume that history must repeat itself, that younger generations must think and act like their older generations, that social and technological changes cannot also lead to large social changes (including continued secularization) and so on. I’m not convinced of any such view of history.

              • Posted April 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

                What kind of statistical evidence are you looking for? Do you think there’s been a survey of BDS supporters to see how many want the end of Israel as a country? There’s certainly enough evidence to show that it’s not a tiny, negligible minority of those supporters, and some of its founders and biggest promoters are clearly desirous of ending Israel’s existence. How many anecdotes do you require before you accept that?

              • Malgorzata
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I do believe that history is a guide. There were Jewish minorities in Arab countries for millenia. Arab countries are practically “Judenfrei” now. There were Christian minorities in Arab countries. They are slaughtered and seriously persecuted. There were Yazidies, Circassians, you name it. Not to mention Armenians and Greeks in Turkey. There was Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia (states with different ethnic groups but equal rights) which are no more. In Syria they are slaughtering each other. In Lebanon, after horrible civil wars the horror is growing every day now.
                The moment Jews will become a minority in Israel their fate will be tragic. If you believe that the new generation raised on the hatred towards Jews would behave like Swiss citizens do, you are either very young and naive or very old and cynical, and you yourself don’t believe it.

              • asker
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

                Malgorzata: “Yes, I do believe that history is a guide.”

                Sometimes we can learn from human history. But sometimes we also “mislearn” from history and lock up our views of the future with the chains of the past. I don’t dispute that there are risks of persecution of jews in a “one state” project. But our knowledge of that, and of the mechanisms of anti-semitism, could perhaps be used to design and guard such a project in ways that help curb such risks.

                “If you believe that the new generation raised on the hatred towards Jews would behave like Swiss citizens do …”

                One tricky issue here is to tease out the difference between (a) the kind and quantity of hatred in one young generation that grow up in the kind of poor living conditions that many palestinians in territories under de facto israeli military control today grow up in from (b) the kind and quantity of hatred in one young generation growing up in “one state equal rights”. Another issue is what we could call the “transition problem” – any new structure (be it one state or two state or …) will initially be more vulnerable while animosity generated from the older conditions will still be present in the minds of people.

                I’m neither young or old (though I don’t think that saves me from the risk of being wrong) but what is more important I don’t have a strong belief on what the effects of some attempted one state solution would be. That is an assymmetry between us, since you asserted the very strong claim that a “one state equal rights” solution would lead to catastrophe or genocide. I only say that I see no good evidence for accepting that strong belief.

              • Posted April 25, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

                You are starting to resemble a creationist, and your behavior is similar to that described by Herbert Spencer: “Like the majority of men who are born to a given belief, they demand the most rigorous proof of any adverse belief, but assume that their own needs none.”

                You are not an “asker”; you are one of those who pretends disingenuously to be Just Asking Questions, but that’s obviously not the case. You will believe without evidence the most outlandish accusations against Israel, but will require tons of evidence (in fact, there would never be enough to satisfy you) that a large number of BDS supporters favor the elimination of Israel.

                I’d prefer an honest opponent than a Just Asking Questions pretender.

              • Malgorzata
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

                You may not be young nor old but you obviously do not know much about how young Muslims are raised. The hatred towards Jews in the Arab/Muslim world is well known and well described phenomenon, not in any way connected to poverty (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait etc. are far from poor). You could read descriptions of Ayyan Hirsi Ali, Nonni Darwish or Wafa Sultan how they were taught from the cradle to hate Jews. You can watch Palestinian Authority’s official TV programmes for children where children are taught to hate Jews and to dream about “martyrdom” while killing Jews. You can think about the 19-years old young man who just killed himself while detonating a bomb in an Israeli Bus – he comes from a very well to do family. You seem to have no scruples to risk the lives of eight million Israeli citizens just to check your rosy picture of human development. Well, they are not equally willing to commit collective suicide.

              • GBJames
                Posted April 25, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                “Sometimes we can learn from human history. But sometimes we also “mislearn” from history and lock up our views of the future with the chains of the past.”

                I think this is pretty much nonsense. History is the only thing you can learn from. There is only history. Imagining the future without reference to history is impossible. You can’t learn from the future.

                You can misunderstand history. And you can ignore history. And you can write fiction. None of those would, of course, be “learning”.

  14. Linn
    Posted April 23, 2016 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Argh. People like this frustrate me beyond words.

    I still don’t get what happened to open-minded, liberal students. It hasn’t been more than a couple of years since I was a student (not in Britain though) and everything was open to discussion and no one bothered to boycott anything. People were too busy with studying and drinking to bother with criticizing Israel or coddling terrorists.

    Besides, we had teachers making fun of women, and some making fun of men. We had teachers making fun of religion and teachers making fun of atheism. We had homosexual teachers and homophobic teachers. We had teachers making rape jokes in class and another comparing his wife to the dead body at the autopsy table.
    We dealt with it. We actually found it amusing all in all. Maybe this new student president should learn to deal with what she finds offensive too.

  15. Posted April 23, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Authoritarian Left Quiz

    1) who was often unfairly attacked?
    A) the shrill and strident Richard Dawkins
    B) the oppressors at Charly Hebdo
    C) the soft-spoken nice man Jihadi John

    2) Pick the politically correct pair:
    A) All lives matter — all genocides matter
    B) Black lives matter — holocaust matters
    C) Black lives matter — all genocides matter

    3) Regarding gender and sex:
    A) Humans are a sexually dimorphic species
    B) Sex traits are bimodally distributed, but gender identity is a spectrum
    C) Sex/Gender binary is evil, but male-to-female trans are true women, biological female are however “non-men”

    4) The (anglo-US) secular movement is best represented by …
    A) Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Jerry Coyne
    B) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Sarah Haider
    C) PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Matt Dillahunty, ftb/orbit

    5) How to improve the world, with …
    A) Universal values for all
    B) More satire and freedom of speech
    C) muslims need to pick up more weapons, but comics and satirists should lay down their pens.

    The politically correct, goodthink answer is of course C in all questions.

  16. peepuk
    Posted April 23, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    This really makes me angry:

    “In 2013, the NUS signed up to minimum pricing: this is a students’ union that thinks beer is too cheap.”

    Maybe we can learn from the Japanese:

    “Essentially, Japan’s government just ordered all of the country’s public universities to end education in the social sciences, the humanities and law.”

    “http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-20/japan-dumbs-down-its-universities-at-the-wrong-time”

    If education results in this nonsense, has it still any value?

  17. Posted April 23, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I’d like Ms. Bouattia to put this most recent heinous act into context for me:

    http://metro.co.uk/2016/04/23/english-professor-hacked-to-death-in-suspected-islamist-attack-in-bangladesh-5835941/
    http://atimes.com/2016/04/suspected-islamists-kill-bangladesh-professor/

    A professor of English has just been hacked to death in Bangladesh and ISIS is taking credit.

  18. jeffery
    Posted April 23, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    An obvious case of, “Judeophobia”….


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  1. […] British universities seems to be deteriorating further with the news last week of the election of Malia Bouattia as the new president of Britain’s National Union of Students. Ms Bouattia has extreme anti-Zionist views and last year led the campaign that prevented the […]

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