It was a hallmark of the Enlightenment civilization of the West that warring countries still shared scientific knowledge, and held scholarship above politics. During the Napoleonic Wars the British and French in the South Seas would often set the war aside and help one another’s research ships, providing they proved their scientific credentials.
The community of scholarship was thought to transcend not only national but also religious boundaries, as, one way or another, it had been thought of since the foundation of universities in early medieval times. In 1788, when Catholic priests were banned in England, the astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, not merely a Catholic priest but a Professor of Dogmatic Theology in Rome, traveled to England to work with fellow astronomer Nevil Maskelyne, a Protestant minister.
George Orwell, writing in World War II, commented on a British newspaper produced in 1810: “There is an article of about 9,000 words on the publication of the French scientific body known as the Societe d’Areueil. The French scientists … are treated with the utmost respect.”
It would, he said, be impossible to discover from this article that there was a war on between the two countries.
However, it seems we have moved on from the values of the enlightenment in Britain, and this is considering a community which Britain is not even at war with: Delegates at the first conference of the new British academics’ body, the University and College Union, voted by 158 to 99 to recommend “a comprehensive and consistent boycott” of all Israeli academic institutions to its branches. (Some will be very east to boycott. They are closed because of constant rocket-fire into them from Gaza.)
The UCU resolution includes proposals to “organize a UK-wide campus tour for Palestinian academics/educational trade unionists.”
That is to say, not only are Israeli academics and universities to suffer systematic and institutionalized discrimination by being excluded from the community of scholars, and not even allowed to be heard, but the representatives of political movements and organizations committed to their destruction are singled out to be granted favoritism. As British writer Melanie Phillips says, this would be childish if it were not villainous, while the British Minister of State for Higher Education, Bill Rammell, has bleated gently that “I profoundly believe this does nothing to promote the Middle East peace process.”
This is only the latest development in a long-term academic attack on Israel and on Israeli academics and researchers in Britain. In July 2003, it was reported that Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield Professor of Pathology and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, had banned a highly qualified Jewish student, Amit Duvshani, from enrolling to work in Wilkie’s laboratory towards a Ph.D. thesis. Wilkie was reported to have told Duvshani in a letter:
“I have a huge problem with the way the Israelis take the high moral ground … and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians. I am sure you are perfectly nice at a personal level but no way would I take on somebody who served in the Israeli Army.” (Military service in Israel is for obvious reasons universal and compulsory.)
Wilkie later stated: “I accept that I confused my personal beliefs with those of Oxford University,” a puzzling statement for several reasons including the fact that it was unclear how a university could have personal beliefs.
Two scholars, Dr. Miriam Shlesinger and Professor Gideon Toury, were sacked from an international journal of translation studies by Monica Baker, a professor at the Manchester University Institute of Science and Technology, because they were Israeli. This was reported in the London Times‘s “Higher Educational Supplement” but attracted no comment or condemnation in British academic circles until American academics took the matter up.
In 2002 it was reported that the development of life-saving medical treatments in Britain were under threat because of a British boycott of Israeli academics. Baroness Greenfield, a neurologist and director of the Royal Institution, the oldest independent research body in Britain, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, both drew attention to the boycott that was being organized by “left-wing British intellectuals.” It aimed at denying Israeli medical researchers and academics platforms. The point that cancer research was being handicapped to the detriment of all humanity as a political gesture was serious but perhaps not the most crucial thing. The most crucial thing was that some Israelis — or not to be mealy-mouthed about it, some Jews — were being punished and victimized as a group for what other Jews were alleged to have done. It had a highly familiar ring to it for any student of history. The subtext, of course was, in 1943 — and is now — that Jews were and are collectively and racially guilty.
What did the huge and expensive British race-relations industry do about it? Nothing, of course. It was as silent as, apparently, was the Conservative party. The same day that I placed this in my file I received a letter from a retired (non-Jewish) technical college lecturer living in Berwick-on-Tweed who commented on “the vileness of the anti-Semitism sweeping England.”
In fact, even a cursorily assembled collection of incidents shows how far anti-Semitism has advanced in the last few years, to an extent unthinkable a decade or so ago, or before the multiculturalism, race-relations and anti-discrimination industries really hit their strides in enforcing political correctness and the “celebration of diversity.”
On February 15, 2003, nearly one million people marched through the streets of London — probably the biggest-ever political demonstration in Britain — under the slogan “Don’t Attack Iraq — Freedom for Palestine.” The running together of the two slogans showed how anti-Israeli/anti-Jewish forces had effectively hijacked the anti-war movement, and showed also the alliance between the broad left and Islamicism, with the common bond being hatred of Israel as an outpost and symbol of Western civilization.
This march was organized by the Stop the War Coalition (STWC) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). The STWC was organized originally by the Socialist Workers’ Party, which claimed Trotskyite credentials, and the MAB had links with the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of its senior officers publicly defended murder-suicide bomb attacks on Jews. MAB banners on the march read: “Palestine forever from the sea to the river,” indicating its real agenda was not peace but a Final Solution along Nazi lines. Dr. Myles Harris described the scene in the following terms in the Salisbury Review:
At the foot of Nelson’s column a loud-speaker the size of a bread van gave an electronic grunt and began to chant: “Kill Bush, Kill Bush!” at 150 decibels. Overhead an animated puppet of Bush jerked across a huge plasma screen. A crowd which had been gathering in the square all the afternoon roared enthusiastically. At intervals the sentence “You are being lied to” appeared across the screen. Nobody seemed to think it might have a double meaning….
The whole gamut of the old anti-Semitic, anti-American delusions of the Stalinist left were on display….I looked at the screen again. The jerking Bush puppet was now being occasionally outlined in the cross-hairs of a rifle….A Church of England vicar in a soutane walked past wearing a white and black chequered bandanna used by Palestinian demonstrators you see chanting at the funerals of “martyrs” on TVâ€¦
Anglican cleric Canon Paul Ostreicher, former chairman of Amnesty International, equates the Israelis fighting for national survival and the Anglo-American forces in Iraq with Nazis:
Those old enough to remember will recollect that the French resistance were held to be heroes when they killed the German occupiers. I did not rejoice at German deaths then, any more than I rejoice at Israeli, American and, yes, British deaths now. But there is no difference.
A EU survey in November 2003 indicated that 60 percent of British people believed Israel was the major threat to World Peace. This was just above the EU average of 59 percent, though below the figures 65 percent for Germany and 74 percent for the Netherlands. Thus Britain could claim to be less anti-Semitic than Germany, though not by a great margin. The statistics have possibly changed since then.
Among other incidents Lord Triesman, the former general secretary of the Labour Party, was among prominent British Jews targeted for anti-Semitic attacks. The police Special Branch had advised him to have a 10-foot-high fence erected around his house in North London, but the Labour-run Council made him take it down.
The progressive Guardian, meanwhile, published an article under the byline of that well-known journalist and fellow-progressive, Osama bin Laden, urging Moslems to resist the “Zionist-crusader chain of evil.”
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