Monday, 4 January 2010

NUS president Wes Streeting stoops to a new low

Check back here soon for video of his remarks on Gaza & student occupations incl on occupations over education cuts. I can't work my YouTube uploader atm.

Please comment below or ask questions. I will try to get them answered.

NUS NEC member James Haywood writes on Wes Streetings latest comments

Wes Streeting stoops to a new low

People should hold their stomachs and read this Ha'aretz article about NUS President Wes Streeting's recent visit to Israel: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1137628.html

I was in two minds of whether to write something about this, it truly is so disgusting that most points don't need much coming back on, but actually some serious issues do come out of this.

Of course Streeting attacking the UCU is nothing new, first the planned strike last year was needed for students "like a hole in the head", and now this attack on the UCU's bravery in standing for the academic boycott (which has now been followed by the TUC). But then, hey, since when has New Labour ever been about supporting unions?

His quoted remarks on Palestine really are disgusting however. Livni, the politician responsible for the massacre in Gaza which will be mourned on campuses across the UK over the next month, was apparently "a really strange choice" for lawyers in the UK to seek arrest for war crimes. With no sense of irony he says this attempt to uphold international law must, "seem so really ignorant". mmm....quite,
so while we're on the subject of ignorance lets carry on with the article:

"my first impression of the West Bank was that it was just like the place on the other side.... The surroundings were the same, the people were doing the same things - there wasn't much difference between the two places." The Palestinian economy in the West Bank seems "to be a lot more stable and active" than he had assumed, he added."
The charities, religious groups, NGOs (including Israeli NGOs), Amnesty, they are all liars.....he didn't add.

What a pity he didn’t go 5 minutes from the Church of Nativity to Dhieshesh refugee camp where thousands of Palestinian refugees live in terrible conditions and survive on UN hand outs: not a stable and active economy. Or perhaps Streeting could have gone to Hebron, and seen the settler violence against Palestinians there and the destruction of the economy by the siege on the old city by the Israeli army. Or gone to Nablus to visit the huge graveyards, or Ramallah to Bir Zeit University to hear from students of the military lockdowns the campus has suffered consistently over the years.

But most normal people know this, so why bother raising it? Because actually this highlights a dangerous issue with this trip. This wasn't a holiday, which can be seen not just from his press comments but Ha'aretz reported that these comments took place, "after a meeting in the Prime Minister's office".
This trip was organised. By who?

Students in the UK have a right to know who organised this trip, and if it was paid for who funded it. Because whatever organisation did organise it are clearly not even interested in promoting a two state solution let alone a just solution. If the issues are so "complex" why did Streeting not visit officials in the West Bank? Why did he not meet the Palestinian student council? Or visit refugee camps? Or look at the illegal settlements and the violence perpetrated by settlers in the West Bank? Or villages being destroyed by the apartheid wall? Why no attempt to enter Gaza? Yet again we have the racist vision of Palestinians as invisible "problems" that need to be "solved", not human beings who have a right to live, let alone to education, health, housing and other basic things they are denied by the occupation.

We have a right to know who organised and funded this trip, and we should question whether such biased and frankly corrupt practises are acceptable in our National Union.
And if Streeting is genuine, then I have an offer for him: Goldsmiths are organising a trip to the West Bank in early April, he is now formally invited to come on the trip to see "the other side". I look forward to his response.


Haarerrz article

2 comments:

HarpyMarx said...

Just read the article, unbelievable.... But the belief that Tzipi Livni shouldn't be prosecuted for war crimes beggars belief. And what fresh hell is this, 'If Britain wants a role in the peace process it needs to engage with the broad range of perspectives,..

Okey-dokey Wes..then let's engage with warmongering neocon neoliberals. Un-bloody-believable...

Actually all this takes me back to when Lorna Fitzsimons was el Presidente of NUS and also Jim Murphy and their connection to Labour Friends of Israel.

thebadcock said...

Disgusting. I wonder if Wes knows that the Church of the Nativity was actually held under siege during the second intifada, with no food being allowed in and the injured unable to leave. I wonder if he met any of the people from the refugee camps in the West Bank whose olive trees, i.e. their entire livelihood, are behind the apartheid wall. I wonder if he knows that three people were shot in front of their children in Nablus this week by the IDF.

This actually makes me sick. I guess what can be done now, like James says, is to investigate where this money came from and why Wes felt that, despite his constant patronising calls for pro-Palestine activists to be balanced and neutral, the membership of NUS really wanted him to kiss up to the Israeli government in a decidedly un-neutral display..

Elly x