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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The anti-boycott 'bullies'

It's surely become just about the laziest, most cynical trick in the journalistic book: start your article with a quote from an abusive e-mail to give the impression that everyone who disagrees with you is a sicko. So just the thing for the Guardian when it turns its attention to the academic boycott debate...

'Following a heart attack earlier this year, Paul Mackney, then general secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe), was lying in hospital last month flipping through emails on his Blackberry. A proposal calling on the lecturers' union to encourage an academic boycott of Israel had just been made public, and flooding his inbox were messages accusing him, among many things, of being a "Bin Laden-oriented supporter of Islamic terror and propaganda" and an "ultra anti-semitic Nazi". Later, at the union's annual conference, he leaned over during a debate to show the most recent: "Subject: Jew Hater!" it read. "It's nice to hate Jews and single them out for everything! It's called ANTI-SEMITISM you disgusting piece of shit."'

The heart attack detail is a nice touch: anti-boycott campaigners are not only bonkers but totally callous.

OK, I've given prominence to a couple of wacko comments I've received - but then I didn't have 50,000 to choose from. 50,000 e-mails to NATFHE leaders: a healthy sign of vigourous democratic debate? Well, maybe in general, but not in this particular case. For these are not normal people, but people who defend Israel. The name for what such people do when they make their views known is 'bullying'.

And of course they're only doing it to deflect attention from the Real Issues. Did you know that in Israel different ethnic groups have different levels of participation in higher education? Bet you're shocked. Plainly an apartheid system is the only possible explanation. How can anyone seriously argue against ostracizing a society so uniquely depraved?

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