Monday, July 07, 2008

Leaving the UCU - Norman Geras

I've been following the discussions on the Engage list and on Normblog about the responses to the UCU motion 25, which in effect is calling for a boycott of Israeli academics. (See my prior discussions here and here). A number of people have finally made the decision to resign from the union, including Eve Garrard, who made a particularly eloquent statement of why she is doing so. Today Norman Geras wrote about why he would resign from the union, if he were still teaching. There's one paragraph that I particularly like, because it expresses my feelings about the need not to be craven in the face of anti-semitism:

This, for me, is the decisive point. To be a Jew in UCU today is to be, in some sort, a supplicant, pleading with the would-be boycotters and those unmoved to oppose them and deliver them a decisive defeat, pleading for Israeli academics to be accepted as having the same status as other academics world-wide, pleading that Jewish supporters of the rights of academics in the Jewish state should not be made to feel isolated in their own union, like participants willy-nilly in an anti-Semitic campaign. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, shove that. Not today, not tomorrow, and not any time. To be a supplicant Jew is not a choice I would be willing to contemplate. I should come and entreat within the UCU for the same consideration for Jewish academics in Israel and Jewish academics in Britain as are extended to academics of every other nationality? Forget about it.

What he's expressing, it seems to me, is a simple manner of self-respect. (I don't know if he'd think it was simple, but it seems simple to me). I understand why some people are staying in the union, to fight the boycotters - but the choice to leave for the sake of one's self-respect seems paramount to me.

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