Yes, NYU AWDU Did Allege a Zionist Conspiracy

Last week, I wrote a message to GSOC’s discussion list pointing out that NYU AWDU’s false and groundless accusations about a Zionist conspiracy were incompatible with our union’s stated commitments to democracy and social justice. This message represented no one’s views but my own, and it has been met with deafening silence. But now, the NYU AWDU caucus has quietly changed the sentence in question from its first press release, and some members of that caucus are claiming that NYU AWDU never made any such allegation at all.

In its original first press release about the GSOC elections, the NYU AWDU caucus stated the following: “Notably, Local 2110 Executive Board disproportionately disqualified known supporters of the GSOC for BDS caucus and installed several leaders of the Zionist GSOC for Open Dialogue caucus as representatives…’I find it too much of a coincidence that AWDU and BDS supporters and advocates have been denied the chance to be voted for’…said Ziad Dallal”…

As I stated, I do not believe the authors of the press release are personally anti-Semitic. However, it is entirely appropriate to characterize these statements as malicious accusations of a Zionist conspiracy in keeping with the long history of such accusations for the following reasons:

  1. The statements were always totally groundless and they have turned out to be untrue. At the time it put out the press release, the NYU AWDU caucus had (or should have had) no way of knowing whether individuals with one affiliation or another had been “disproportionately” disqualified. It turns out that a greater proportion of anti-BDS than pro-BDS candidates were disqualified.
  2. The statements characterize the GSOC for Open Dialogue on Israel and Palestine caucus as “Zionist” despite the fact that it does not characterize itself that way. Not everyone who opposes BDS is a Zionist! Noam Chomsky is not a Zionist by any reasonable definition, yet he has criticized the BDS movement on tactical grounds and might well vote against BDS in a given situation (I do not know whether he has). To call the GSOC for Open Dialogue on Israel and Palestine caucus and its individual members “Zionist” is to attribute views to them that are not based on positions they themselves have taken.
  3. Ziad Dallal’s comments invite the reader to join him in speculation about the motivations of people who had already given a satisfactory alternative explanation for their actions. The Local 2110 Executive Board stated that candidates were considered eligible or not based on the criterion of having ever (that is, in either Fall 2015 or Spring 2016) been a dues-paying members of the union, which has nothing to do with BDS. There has never been a shred of evidence that this was untrue. The error resulting in Ziad’s own omission from the list of announced Joint Council delegates had already been corrected by the time this press release came out, yet it still characterizes him as “originally disqualified” without clarifying that this original error was corrected. To my knowledge, no one has alleged further errors of this sort. Conspiracy theories generally have to ignore more obvious and logical explanations for the phenomena for which they seek to account.
  4. The verb “installed” implies that this was a coordinated effort between the Local 2110 Executive Board and the “Zionist” GSOC for Open Dialogue on Israel and Palestine caucus despite the fact that there is, again, no evidence whatsoever that this was the case. Generally, people who are “installed” into office for some nefarious reason are aware of and somehow cooperate in that process. This statement therefore implies that the Local 2110 Executive Board and the GSOC for Open Dialogue on Israel and Palestine caucus worked together to put anti-BDS individuals in leadership positions and disenfranchise BDS supporters. That would be the definition of conspiracy! It’s never possible to prove a negative (another perennial reason conspiracy theories gain credence) but suffice it to say that it is wildly unlikely that the Local and a “Zionist” caucus would coordinate elections that “installed” more pro-BDS than anti-BDS candidates, left BDS supporters in an overwhelming majority of the Assembly of Stewards and Joint Council delegation, and did nothing whatsoever to prevent the scheduled BDS vote itself from taking place.

NYU AWDU did make a false and groundless accusation that the GSOC elections by acclamation constituted a Zionist conspiracy even if it did not use exactly that word. It owes an apology to everyone unfairly targeted by the statements discussed above, especially to the members of the GSOC for Open Dialogue on Israel and Palestine caucus who were elected to steward positions and to the President of UAW Local 2110.


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