edinburghunioccupation

Comment

The following are the works of individuals and do not reflect the beliefs or opinions of the student occupiers as a group. They are included here for their relevance to recent university occupations and/or often because correspondents have requested their publication.

Letter from the Neumann brothers to the Israeli President and the Director of Yad Veshem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

February 20, 2009
To the President of the State of Israel and the Director of the Yad Vashem Memorial.
Remove Our Grandmother’s Name from the Wall at Yad Vashem

By MICHAEL NEUMANN
and OSHA NEUMANN

Following the example of Jean-Moise Braitberg, we ask that our grandmother’s name be removed from the wall at Yad Vashem. Her name is Gertrud Neumann. Your records state that she was born in Kattowitz on June 6, 1875 and died in Theresienstadt.

M. Braitberg delivers his request with excellent reasons and eloquent personal testimony. His words are inspiring, but they give you – and those who stand with you – too much credit. I will instead be brief. Please take this as an expression of my disgust and contempt for your state and all it represents.

Our grandmother was a victim of that very ideal of ethnic sovereignty in whose cause Israel has shed so much blood for so long. I was among the many Jews who thought nothing of embracing that ideal, despite the sufferings it had inflicted on our own race. It took thousands of Palestinian lives before, finally, I realized how foolish we had been.

Our complicity was despicable. I do not believe that the Jewish people, in whose name you have committed so many crimes with such outrageous complacency, can ever rid itself of the shame you have brought upon us. Nazi propaganda, for all its calumnies, never disgraced and corrupted the Jews; you have succeeded in this. You haven’t the courage to take responsibility for your own sadistic acts: with unparalleled insolence, you set yourself up as spokesmen for an entire race, as if our very existence endorsed your conduct. And you blacken our names not only by your acts, but by the lies, the coy evasions, the smirking arrogance and the infantile self-righteousness with which you embroider our history.

In the end, you will give the Palestinians some scrap of a state. You will never pay for your crimes and you will continue to preen yourself, to bask in your illusions of moral ascendancy. But between now and the end, you will kill and kill and kill, gaining nothing by your spoilt-brat brutality. In life, our grandmother suffered enough. Stop making her a party to this horror in her death.

Michael Neumann

I join my brother, Michael Neumann, in asking that any reference to our grandmother be removed from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.

I have been to this memorial. Its buildings, paved courtyards and plazas spread themselves authoritatively over many landscaped acres. It frames the Holocaust as a prelude to the creation of the state of Israel. It embalms memorabilia of the death camps and preserves them as national treasures. That treasure does not belong to Israel. It is a treasure only if it serves as a reminder never to permit any nation to claim an exemption for its chosen people from the bounds of morality and decency.

Israel has twisted the Holocaust into an excuse for perpetrating more holocausts. It has spent the treasure of the world’s sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust on a fruitless effort to shield itself from all criticism as it massacres and tortures Palestinians and suffocates them under a brutal occupation. I do not wish to have the memory of my grandmother enlisted in this misbegotten project.

I grew up believing that Jews were that ethnic group whose historical mission was to transcend ethnicity in a united front against Fascism. To be Jewish was to be anti-Fascist. Israel long ago woke me from my dogmatic slumber about the immutable relationship of Jews to Fascists. It has engineered a merger between the image of Jewish torturers and war criminals and that of emaciated concentration camp victims. I find this merger obscene. I want no part of it. You have forfeited the right to be the custodian of my grandmother’s memory. I do not wish Yad Vashem to be her memorial.

Osha Neumann
———————————————–
The Braitberg letter, in French can be found at
http://www.lemonde.fr/opinions/article/2009/01/28/effacez-le-nom-de-mon-grand-pere-a-yad-vashem_1147635_3232.html

and the translation here:
http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/different-look/Erase-my-grandfather-s-name-at-Yad-Vashem

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at a Canadian university. He is the author of What’s Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche and The Case Against Israel. He also contributed the essay, “What is Anti-Semitism”, to CounterPunch’s book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He can be reached at mneumann@live.com

Osha Neumann is a defense lawyer in Berkeley and author of Up Against the Wall MotherF**ker: a Memoir of the 60s with Notes for Next Time.

source: http://www.counterpunch.com/neumann02202009.html


Coverage in ‘Student’ Newspaper

Instead of fully covering the student occupation, Edinburgh University’s ‘Student’ newspaper has chosen to undermine the editors of the Comment section to ensure the student body is kept in the dark over certain vital and entirely honest perspectives.

‘Student’ senior editors re-worked the 3-page Comment section after the deadline without consulting its editors, in clear breach of good working practice. Moreover, they put pressure on those editors over the nature of some of the articles (the section as a whole was well-balanced but they took exception to those portraying a pro-Palestine/pro-student occupation stance).

While the whole affair is deeply worrying, two outrageous executive decisions stand out. 

Firstly, an article written by Barrie Levine of Scottish Jews for Just Peace was removed entirely. He is a guest writer providing a vital Jewish perspective on the matter and examining the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionisim. This is the same distinction the occupying students were trying to make throughout the event itself, when faced with unfounded accusations of intimidating Jewish students. This is a serious matter that would have been largely dealt with by Barrie’s article. Beyond trying to prolong ill-informed opposition to the occupation, in the face of wide support and actual understanding, there is no justification for removing the piece.

Secondly, to add insult to injury, the chief editors hijacked half a page of the Comment section for an advert for the paper itself! If they wanted to argue too many articles on the occupation took space away from other issues, this proves no such logic lies behind their actions.

The chief editors of Student have been unprofessional in the extreme and shown prejudice against both the Comment section editors and the occupying students. Despite having the support of the Rector and many world-renowned scholars and organisations, and who are now working in a respectful collaboration with the university administrators, we are still being black-balled by a highly-prejudiced minority of students, including it would seem the chief editors of Student.

Where can all students involved in this situation get a fair hearing if they cannot rely on their own newspaper? These senior editors must be bought to account. 

Meanwhile, it is more important now than ever before for those in possession of the truth to share it personally with as many fellow students as possible.

 

From ‘Anonymous

In response to [a comment writer], who likens the [efficacy of the] occupation to a cotton ball [stopping] a charging elephant, this is the difference that will be made:

In September 2009 5 Palestinians will travel to Edinburgh to learn at our ‘great’ institution. 4 years later they will return to Palestine, where maybe they will teach 5 more, who will teach 5 more. Perhaps they will speak with those awarded scholarships at Goldsmiths or SOAS or the 27 other occupied universities, together they might teach 100 more, and suddenly the cotton ball unravels and wraps itself around the legs of the charging elephant and down it falls. You claim that nobody else gives a ’shite’ about the occupation, but I assure you those 5 Palestinians do, and that’s why its being done. Not for the people who live in a country where education (for the moment) is a right, but for those who live in the other world, the world where education is only a dream.

To give this argument some weight, for those of you who like to see results, in the 1980’s over 50 U.K. universities awarded scholarships to South Africans as a direct response to their inability to access education under the Apartheid state. In 1994, armed with the tools that education provides, they joined forces with a man named Nelson Mandela and formed a government and a new South Africa was born.

Finally, in response to John, “what about the students in Zimbabwe and the DRC”, I totally agree. Why don’t you let this occupation inspire you to change the lives of 5 Zimbabweans. Make some noise, print some fliers, find a building…DEMAND THE NEXT 5 SCHOLARSHIPS, if every 50 students at Edinburgh University did the same, imagine what the world might look like?

In Solidarity

Analysis: Occupation Edinburgh – Beyond Performativity

These days, it’s sobering to reflect on how rare it is for our revolutionary politics to be regarded as new and threatening. More often than not, whether it’s in the media or simply day to day conversation, we are continually reminded of how ‘reminiscent of x’ we are. The power of our message is in its referential quality. Our meaning is our meaning as homage.

Why is this a problem? Simply put, it neutralizes any attempt at the creation of something new. When our acts are viewed as ‘referential’ this robs them of their subversive character. Little is less threatening than the dated left. It also blocks our ability to think creatively, as our position in a ‘tradition’ provides us with an endless series of references that we can fall back on. Further, it hurts us even as it appears to help us, generating goodwill and nostalgia among certain authority figures which neutralizes us in advance. This is even more true in the case of university occupations. Meaning is created for us, even against our will. In this sense, our activities are ‘over-determined’.

How can we break out of this deadlock?

A couple of preliminary steps might include:

–    We proceed on the basis that there is a discernable ‘student movement’ constituted of students, whose priorities should involve ‘reclaiming’ ‘our’ education. In my view, this perspective should be abandoned. Even if this were not already a radically over-determined field (circumscribing any genuinely radical potential) it adopts an implicit capitalist logic within its terms. The notion that an education can be ‘ours’ in the sense of providing a resource for the creation of wealth in a radically individualist sense should be rejected out of hand. With it should end the linked assumption that whatever skills we may develop as a result of our training are our concern, rather than that of the shared social body. In these ways, the label of ‘student’ is too small, and involves a division of labour that is fundamentally capitalist.
–    Per the literature surrounding the New School Occupation in New York, the notion of an ‘occupation’ should be considered less a ‘tactic’ and a matter of exchange value, should be understood as an end in itself. The space that it creates the potential it can unleash should be the focus of our activities. In this sense, our means must become one with our ends.
–    Finally, we need to overcome our neurotic concern with the past. This would involve a wholesale rejection of the latent attitude that considers things in terms of their reference to the past. Frequently, this perspective implicitly accepts the logic of Francis Fukuyama, who heralded ‘the end of history’ and foreclosed debate beond a liberal capitalist paradim. On one hand, this reduces our engagement with the developing police state to a crude form of sign-spotting and historical referencing. Instead of seeing a new state emerging, we diminishing the threat as if it will dissolve upon it’s revelation: that when the State reveals it’s hand in an explicit way that reality will simply not withstand the contradiction and collapse. On the other hand, we limit our options by consciously reducing ourselves to a pursuit of a joussiance through imitative acts. Put another way, we locate an ‘authentic’ excitement in the acts of those who have gone before us, and fetishize what appears to be their unbidden joy and enthusiasm, ignoring that the past is seldom less ‘posed’ than the present.

  1. SOLIDARITY FROM GREECE!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thanks Greece!!!!!

  3. Excellent! The students at the UK universities have been the beacons in the Western scene when it comes to protesting the Gaza slaughter. There were highly visible sit-ins and happenings also at Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Birmingham, Essex, LSE, King’s College London, Sussex.. (can’t think of the same happening at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, but maybe I’m wrong..) It seems to me that with people like you around we might be able to put an end to this tragedy. My best wishes to you! Respectfully yours, Bruno, Finland.

  4. You stupid stupid stupid people. Why must the Israeli people be discriminated against and punished for the way their government and military behave?? You’re outlook is narrow minded in the extreme. Israel have suffered too. Granted not as many people have died in Israel, but if one of the 13 Israelis killed was your brother, it wouldn’t matter what the numbers were. Tell me, did you bother to canvass the views of students and see how many shared your views, before you tried to portray yourselves as representative of the whole student population? Your demands about education and aid are reasonable, but the rest are ridiculous, and you’re demand about no criminal action being taken for your CRIMINAL behaviour is laughable. If you really cared about the people of Gaza, and not your own “fame”, you would be prepared to risk the criminal action.

    And before you call into question my political and moral outlook, I am a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and an member of the exec for Liberal Youth Scotland. I support Nick Clegg’s calls to stop arming Israel, but what you are advocating is that we punish a whole nation.

    Oh, and if this comment is deleted, it will show that you are not interested in democracy, only your own views.

  5. cleslie92
    I am appalled by your myopic mis-reading. Where on earth did you find traces, either on the students’ comment on this page, or on any other comments on thi blog, of “discrimination against Israeli people”? Also, who said that the students who participate in this occupation “portray themselves as representative of the whole student population”? They sign as “Edinburgh University occupation” and have never claimed to represent the whole student body.
    Needless to mention that the argument (was it even an argument?) about the potential “dead” Israeli brother makes no sense at all, in that you “sentimentalise” a political discourse/action. If you talk about numbers, let’s stick to numbers. If you talk about feelings, let’s stick to feelings (on both sides). And, to your information, yesterday, during one of the first teach-ins, there were representatives of the “Israeli” community. If you had bothered to read the updates, you would have seen this.
    Regarding the point about “criminal action”, they do “risk” being inscribed as criminals by advancing with this course of action, they do risk their “fame”, for people like you have already framed them within the “white middle class students who have fun and care only about their fame” discourse refusing to actually listen to, or seriously engange with, their arguments/points/demands.
    Finally, who on earth is interested in your “political/moral outlook”? The students of the occupation are not of a particular political party and clearly state so.
    p.s: I congratulate the students for having your comment here; a message that begins with “you stupid stupid stupid people” is abusive, cheap and patronising. Totally beneath them and actually beneath me.

  6. I wonder how many students actually do support this occupation. I am truly glad that the university has not conceded to all of your demands. As someone who considers himself neurutal, I can only hope that your sheer arrogance is not bolstered any more than this, and rather that someday you reflect upon the traversty of democracy that is your occupation is, and how by forcing the university into a political stance purely no the basis of your narrow minded and vastly unshared political beliefs, you have disrupted the academic community, polarised students on this campus and in the long run, undermined any feelings of trust towards your cause.

    I just wonder if by bothering to reach out, and work out how the average student felt before begining your occupation, you might have realised how selfish you have just been.

  7. I think calling yourself “the spirit of our times” makes yourself out to be more representative than you actually are.

    Also, I think that demanding that the university sever all links with Israel and Israeli businesses is discriminating against Israeli businessmen who have a right to free enterprise.

    My comment did address my views on your demands – I agreed with your demands for aid and education (as long as it does not amount to Affirmative Action, which I fundamentally disagree with), but the rest are unreasonable.

    My comment about my political allegiance was to head-off any accusations of me having a more extreme political view, and to state that I was opposing the Israeli action it what I feel is an appropriate manner.

    Fundamentally, I don’t see why a university as an entity has to be a political institution. If it does, does this mean that a group supporting the Israeli occupation could not operate from within the university? Your broad mission statement “Broadly, we demand that our university demonstrate what should be its inherent opposition, as an educational institution, to Israel’s illegal and shameful behaviours” is abhorrent. Why should a university have the power to tell its students what to believe and what political views to have? The university will have remained silent on this to allow the freedom of expression for ALL of its students, and so as to not put any pressure on Israeli students (whether there are any of these I do not know, perhaps you could enlighten me on this.

    In this debate, I too consider myself a neutral, but I will fight to the last for free speech, and your movement demands that the university infringes on this.

    PS. I would however commend you for allowing this debate and the critical posts on your facebook group and blog.

  8. Sorry, that last post was by me, cleslie92.

  9. um…hi!
    Just this, thats all….for the folk that slept in a building forra bit.x
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=49428353166&ref=mf#/topic.php?uid=65164054407&topic=7576

    there.
    Enjoy debating guys!
    peace.x

  10. All standpoints are inherently political. “You can’t be neutral on a moving train”. If the university (of all places) can remain silent when people are being slaughtered then it is complicit. All standpoints are inherently political: a declaration of neutrality is so more than most.

  11. I’d have to disagree. The University can send aid and give the scholarships without taking a political stance. That’s why those demands were accepted quickly.

  12. callum/cleslie 92
    First of all thanks for answering. I meant to answer yesterday but I was too busy and I would end up dashing off.

    So, your issue is the fact that the demand of divestment forces the university to take a political position on the war. But, don’t you think that the university has already taken sides by investing on businesses that profit from the war industry? My point is that the university, and every university in this matter, doesn’t have, and never had, a politically neutral position. If politics is money (and it is; either we like it or not we live in global-capitalist societies) then just by investing somewhere you’ve taken sides, you’ve stepped into the zone of “politics”. And the universities stepped in this “grey” zone many years ago.

    And this takes me to the second point; I think that your fundamental difference with the occupation centres around the idea of “politics” or the “question of the political”. I understood that by disclosing your political “allegiance” you wanted to avoid being accused of conservatism, but for many of us (or if you want just some), who support this occupation, the realm of politics is much, much broader. And it has nothing to do with countries and nations, the left or the right. Your comment comes under a section that has posted a “reflection/article” entitled “Edinburgh occupation-beyond performativity” that clearly states this. The article, and the whole occupation engages with, among a number of things, the question of “justice and responsibility”. And if you ask what about the question of “justice and responsibility” towards the Israeli businessmen, then I would say that they, in their turn, could put pressure from within Israel to their government to stop the war and come up with a viable solution. But they didn’t. They (or some of them) have probably voted for Mrs. Tzipi Livni who was the minister of external affairs during the war, and has no “sympathies” whatsoever for the civilians in Gaza. Why? Because all these businessmen, the businessmen of “BAE Systems, QinetiQ and all other “arms and defence” companies profit from the war.

    And this takes me to the third point, but first allow me a “wee” diversion. The phrase “Broadly, we demand that our university demonstrate what should be its inherent opposition, as an educational institution, to Israel’s illegal and shameful behaviours” should be interpreted along the lines of Israel’s political apparatus, its government and administration, not its people. It is not Israel that is attacked here, but the murderous action of its government and administration. And to return to your point, in this way, the occupation does not “put any pressure on Israeli students”, as long as they agree that the “war” is not, and should never be, the solution. And yes, there were lots of Israeli students in the occupation.

    I hope I have expressed myself clearly here, but if you take all these points into consideration, then you may see that by putting pressure on the university to withdraw its investments from Israeli companies that support the war, the university makes its first steps for “ a politically neutral” position, in that it forges a policy: no profits from war, any war, anywhere on this planet.

  13. [Probably not for publication – but I can’t find any other contact details for your campaign !]

    As you are directing action against the University having investments with companies selling arms to Israel, you might like to ask the Scottish Government and/or Lothian & Borders Police why the Scottish Police BUY their ammunition from Israel (namely from Israeli Military Industries). I’m not certain they still do this, but they certainly were as recently as last September. I notice you have several MSP’s on your list of supporters. I would assume that there is some sort of political decision involved in this purchasing. Prima facie evidence can be supplied if required !

    Regards, S. (until recently, of Edinburgh University !)

  14. According to respected international lawyer Franklin Lamb a recent CIA report gives the Israeli state 20 years before it collapses. Apparently members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have seen the report which argues that a two-state solution is no longer realistic and that a one-state solution is the only viable democratic option. It predicts:

    “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”

    http://gazasolidarity.blogspot.com/2009/03/cia-predicts-collapse-of-israeli-state.html

  15. Dear brothers
    Thank you very much for your great works.
    Im Rifat Abd Elaal, Im from Gaza.
    and Im astudent in the civil engineering in Gaza
    if you need any help im ready to help as i can
    withbest wishes
    rifat_pal@hotmail.com

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