Naomi Foyle, in a relatively interesting article for MEMO Middle East Monitor, explains how the late Professor Bart Moore-Gilbert, the former Professor of Postcolonial Studies and English at Goldsmiths College, tried but ultimately failed to secure a Freedom of Information Act application against the Department for Education. It was a case in which he had sought the disclosure of email chains relating to the then Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove’s personal intervention in the matter of school workshops offered by the 2011 Tottenham Palestine Literature Festival.
Moore-Gilbert was concerned that Gove, a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, had made the intervention based on pressure from the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
However, the more fascinating element of Ms Foyles article is what AntiSemitismWach.com would suggest is insight into the flawed arguments frequently put by those campaigning against Israel.
As part of their opposition to the festival, the Board of Deputies had written a letter to some of the participants that leveled a list of charges of anti-Semitism against various members of the umbrella organizing group, Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Ms Foyle agrees that, “Reading this would alarm any decent citizen. As a member of the PSC myself, I know that the organisation can unfortunately attract anti-Semites, racists who believe mistakenly that they will find a home in its branches for their noxious views.” However, she then suggests that, “The reprehensible actions of isolated individuals by no means makes the PSC a suspect organisation with “very dubious views”.”
Really! This is, unfortunately, the same issue for the now systemically anti-Semitic BDS movement. AntiSemitismWatch.com has said countless times before, legitimate criticism or review of Israeli government actions or policies can take place without straying into anti-Semitic sentiment. However, the reality is that all too frequently the actions of its supporters tangibly cross-over into action that is precisely anti-Semitic in nature as has been countlessly evidenced by communities and commentators alike.
Ms Foyle, by implication, is suggesting that the actions of the few should not cast a shadow over the entire organisation. True, except for the extent to which the “few” could be argued about since the fact is that she, as a mere lone member, recognizes the PSC attracts anti-Semites which leads you to believe that the organisation is indeed very much a “suspect organisation”.
Ms Foyle also attempts to distance the festival from the PSC by suggesting that, “In any case, Haringey Justice for Palestine is an independent branch of the PSC and the national organisation had nothing to do with organising the festival.”
How convenient, but ultimately pointless, in trying to distance the two groups. Just recently, the Labour Party found itself having to launch its own investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism at one of its University groups in Oxford.