Perhaps it’s not about the politics of pressure or of symbols, but about consciousness raising. (I heard Sue Blackwell suggest that it was, I think on the PM programme earlier this afternoon, though I might be wrong.) Well, fuck it, lots of us academics don’t need to be made much more aware than we are of the injustices of Israeli state policy. And if some of us aren’t, boycott motions as inadequate as these are almost certainly not the best way of educating the rest of us.
Alternatively, I’ve also heard it suggested (I think it was on the radio, it might have been on a webpage somewhere) that the point of this motion is just that it’s a first step. It doesn’t matter much on its own, but it may lead on to better things. If that’s right, then good. More effective politics of Palestinian solidarity and hostility to Israeli occupation, etc., is to be welcomed, even from British lecturers.
But I’ve also heard the kinds of phrases I don’t much like on the lips of the proponents of boycott — Israel as an “illegitimate state”, and so on. And if anyone is going to defend this as the politics of a first step, I want to know what the second, third, fourth and fifth steps are ahead of time, just to be sure, you know (and to mix metaphors) that they aren’t taking us onto a rather unpleasant slippery slope.