Julie Burchill: tedious trade unionist turncoats

Julie Burchill doesn’t need a lecture on antisemitism from today’s trade unionists (HT: Ben).

Here is one of today’s trade unionists. He isn’t representative, but he is permitted an unchallenged outlet for his antisemitic views on UCU’s Activist List.

Mohammed Barakeh’s courageous step

Hadash General Secretary and Member of the Knesset Mohammed Barakeh will join an Israeli parliamentary delegation to Auschwitz, a decision which has split Israel’s Arab citizens down the middle. The Abraham Fund‘s Mohammad Darawshe comments in a Ha’aretz piece which responds to the fear that paying heed to this Jewish narrative will validate a Jewish sense of entitlement while negating Palestinian claims.

“The country’s Arab citizens are probably split down the middle regarding Barakeh’s trip, but many of those who oppose it have suggested that it is too soon to show empathy for Israel’s Jews, as they are responsible for continued discrimination and marginalization of the country’s Arabs, not to mention the ongoing oppression of their Palestinian brethren in the occupied territories.

Others see Barakeh’s participation in a parliamentary delegation as problematic because they fear it may be seen as signaling acceptance of the Jewish narrative, and thus strengthening the argument that the Jews – not the Palestinians – are the victims of history. Some Arabs believe that empathetic gestures should be made by Israel’s majority, not by its minority, and that such a step by an Arab politician should be a “prize” given to the Jews only after they have demonstrated understanding of and offered equality to Arab citizens.”

This is why Mohammed Barakeh’s decision is courageous. Read on for Mohammad Darawshe’s response.

UCU and institutions that boycott

On the University and College Union‘s Activists List, Harry Goldstein (UCL) responds to boycotters’ defence of Norway’s University of Bergen for giving official consideration to an institution-wide boycott of Israel:

xxxx, I think you and xxxx are both being disingenuous.

What would it mean for an institution to ‘take a stance’ on this issue?

Would it (a) mean that the institution bans its employees from making an academic judgement to collaborate with Israeli academics? In which case would the academics be vulnerable to disciplinary action for breaches of this ban? And if this were the case, would UCU support the academic’s freedom to make an academic judgement, or would it support management’s right to override that judgement and punish the academic for making it?

Would it (b) mean that the institution merely ‘suggests’ that such collaborations would be frowned on? In this case would UCU support any academic concerned that their career prospects might suffer if they ignored such ‘suggestions’, as clearly any such detriment to career prospects would amount to victimisation?

Would it (c) mean that the institution encouraged demonstrations or other hostility against the ‘offending’ academic? If this is so, it would amount to intimidation by management of an academic/employee going about his or her legitimate work.

If it meant none of the above, then it is hard to know what such a stance could possibly mean.

It’s really not good enough to say that they’re only having the debate. UCU is not usually so laid back about management ‘merely’ discussing things. For example, discussing attacks on employment security, pay and conditions, etc.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that you are happy for management to attack their employees’ academic freedom provided it is in pursuit of one of your own pet causes.

We will remember this next time you complain about the (alleged) pressures on dissenting Israeli academics.

Reproduced with the author’s permission.

Stephen Sizer, The Police And The Barbra Streisand Effect

More details from Modernity here.

University of Bergen to hold official debate on boycotting Israel

In Norway last year the University of Trondheim’s board threw out an attempt by its anti-Israel pressure group to force all Trondheim employees to boycott Israel. It was a boycott any academic trade unionist must oppose on principle.

Now Principle Sigmund Grønmo of the University of Bergen, one of Norway’s larger HE institutions, is going to open a debate on boycotting Israel. Boycotting Israeli academics cannot build anything positive for Palestinians, and it will harm our academic integrity. By now you know the score – we see again this willingness on the part of boycotters to surrender the free exchange and pursuit of knowledge to one political position, and the enthusiasm for wasting (other people’s) academic energy on performing or opposing hostility against Israel. It seems that Bergen is not considering targeting any other country’s institutions with boycott – for me the singularity of this organised attack on only Israel has always been the most disturbing and ominous thing about the boycott campaign – and it’s still disturbing and ominous. Let’s hope Bergen kicks it out.

Hungary: the writing on the wall

This post is by Karl Pfeifer:

I am told not to be alarmed when I encounter aggressive antisemitism in Hungary. After all there exists a vibrant Jewish culture in Budapest and there is hope the conservative Fidesz will curb the development of aggressive Anti-Semitism’s although it is tolerating implicit and not so implicit Anti-Semitism of some its politicians and journalists at present. Fidesz is supposed to do it only to attract Jobbik voters. A dim hope indeed, when a random sample of Hungarian media shows beyond any doubt that the ongoing antisemitic hate campaigns rank with those of the Hungarian arrow-cross Nazis.

Erzsébet Scipiades wrote in leftwing daily “Népszava” Article “Hello Nazi” about a discussion between teachers and pupils after the performance of a play in which a young German neo-Nazi and a young Pole share the same German cell, which casts a damning light on some Hungarian schools.

A well-groomed lady teacher says: “I think the play is optimistic compared to what I see around me. […] In our school pupils prepare lists of Jewish children and collect signatures demanding them to be expelled. Or they paint a Star of David on the chair of Jewish children. Or they ask a Jewish teacher what are you doing here, why don’t you go to Israel.”


But antisemitism is not limited to schools. Thanks to János Kis and his liberal party there is no law restricting hate preachers. In 1997 Kis published “Freedom of speech and Nazi discourse” demanding freedom of speech for Nazis, considering this a problem of society and not of the legal system. He is very quiet nowadays, when Hungarian society fails to push back racism and antisemitism.

Click to access media_kepzes.pdf

So it’s no surprise to find a long list of Jews and alleged ‘Jews’ in Hungarian public life complete with pictures on ‘Metapedia’, a neo-arrow-cross website claiming to be a ‘national’ lexicon.


Hungarian Nazis have put another absurd list – starting of course with Karl Marx – on YouTube: “Jews, the people of revenge.”


Needless to say a lot of their ‘Jews’ are not Jewish at all.

The old Nazi propaganda can be legally rehashed and many Hungarians take to it. They consider the Jew, pulling strings behind the scenes, the root of evil. The diversity of Jewish existence is taken as proof of the existence of this mythical hate-figure. The intellectual assimilated Jew stands for the despised modernity; the religious Orthodox Jew fits into the traditional image of Christian Anti-Semitism; the economically successful Jew stands for ‘money-grubbing capital’ and liberalism and the Jewish socialist for abominable ‘Marxism’.

So at the beginning of the 21st century we encounter Hungarians who believe in the National Socialist utopia of the “Volksgemeinschaft” – the national community of people to which Jews, per definition, durst not belong.

When in spring 1944 about half a million Jews were deported within six weeks with the consent of Horthy and the zealous help of Hungarian Police and Gendarmerie, the Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators promised the Hungarians a real Volksgemeinschaft. Many ‘little’ Hungarian arrow-cross perpetrators found later their way into the communist party and after the war several pogroms took place. This can partly explain why so many Hungarian Jews avoid any contact with the Jewish community and Jewish organisations.

If you want to understand Hungary in the 21st century, visit Budapest and see a plaque placed in the military history museum in memory of the Hungarian gendarmes, an organisation whose record in the Holocaust can be compared to that of the SS.

I heard more than once in Hungary “Anti-Semitism is typical for old and uneducated people” by those who tend to play its existence down. However 40 years of ‘socialism’ and ‘prescribed anti-fascism’ and 20 years of tolerance and ‘freedom of speech’ did not prevent antisemitism becoming a significant force in all walks of life. Young extreme right-wing educated people are pathologically preoccupied with Jews and Gypsies, as the above websites testify.

The writing is on the wall.

Anglican Vicar Uses Police To Intimidate Blogger

This is a guest post by Seismic Shock.

As some people have noticed, I’ve been rather quiet in blogging about the Reverend Stephen Sizer’s activities of late.

After all, what more can be said of a man forwards emails from Holocaust deniers, shares platforms with Holocaust deniers, and shamelessly flaunts his anti-Zionist theology before Iran’s apocalyptic Holocaust-denying regime? As Iranian pastors are arrested and house churches closed down, why is the Khomeinist regime translating Sizer’s book on Christian Zionism into Farsi? How many more times can I point all this out?

Yet there’s another reason why I’ve been quiet, and whilst I’ve held my tongue and my pen for a while, now is the time to speak.

At 10am on Sunday 29th November 2009, I received a visit from two policemen regarding my activities in running the Seismic Shock blog. (Does exposing a vicar’s associations with extremists make me a criminal?, I wondered initially). A sergeant from the Horsforth Police related to me that he had received complaints via Surrey Police from Rev Sizer and from Dr Anthony McRoy – a lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology – who both objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers.

(Context: Sizer has associated with some very nasty terrorists and Holocaust deniers; McRoy has delivered a paper at a Khomeinist theological conference in Iran comparing Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel via suicide bombing with the Christian’s struggle against sin via the atoning death of Jesus, and describes the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier as an “intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming” man who “gives quick, extensive and intelligent answers to any question, mixed with genial humour”).

The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat, in which I agreed to delete my original blog (http://seismicshock.blogspot.com/) but maintain my current one (http://seismicshock.wordpress.com). The policeman related to me that his police force had been in contact with the ICT department my previous place of study, and had looked through my files, and that the head of ICT at my university would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers (I am sure other people use university property to make political comments, but nevermind).

With my research on Reverend Sizer’s associations with terrorists and Holocaust deniers making its way into a publication of the Society of Biblical Literature, I was quite content to hold my peace. However, now that Reverend Sizer is now misrepresenting what has happened in my case in order to intimidate others, now is the time to speak up.

A Christian blogger – “Vee” of LivingJourney, who is based in Australia – linked to my blog as a resource for Christians to learn about anti-Semitism in the Church, including “lots of info on Stephen Sizer and Sabeel”.

Rev Sizer left her this comment:

Dear Vee,

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.


Sure, Stephen Sizer managed to somehow arrange a police visit to me from within the UK, but does Sizer genuinely think he can use police on the other side of the world to this effect?

Why is Reverend Sizer claiming that I received a police caution, when the police stressed I did not receive a caution? Is Sizer deliberately misrepresenting the same police force that he originally used to his advantage?

Who is Reverend Sizer reporting to, and why does Reverend Sizer genuinely feel he has the power to close down debate by threatening police action? Why call the cops rather than answer his critics?

Political and theological disagreements should never be accompanied with threats of litigation or police action, but instead with logic and open debate.

Jewish Chronicle Report of UCU meeting on antisemitism

This report, by Leon Symons, is from the JC.

The University and College Union has been accused of being antisemitic and institutionally racist by one of its members at a seminar it was running — to fight antisemitism.

The union, whose repeated attempts to introduce an academic boycott of Israel have led to a number of resignations, was the subject of a scathing attack by David Hirsh, who runs the Engage anti-boycott website.

Mr Hirsh told the seminar in Brighton that “since 2003 it has become clear that antisemitic ways of thinking and antisemitic practices have been imported into our union alongside this campaign to punish Israeli academics”.

Mr Hirsh said: “UCU has demonstrated repeatedly that it is simply not bothered by antisemitism if it comes packaged in the language of criticism of Israel. Jews in UCU have been bullied, have resigned, have been pushed out and have been silenced.”

He declared: “We have a union from which hundreds of members — many of them Jewish — have resigned in protest at the unwarranted exceptionalism of its attitude to Israel. I believe that many more will do so. UCU entirely refuses to investigate concern about institutional antisemitism when raised through the proper channels, by members.”

But his comments led to a furious exchange with UCU executive committee member Tom Hickey, the man behind the boycott campaign.

Mr Hickey accused Mr Hirsh of telling lies; Mr Hirsh said that this was part of the “structure of intimidation” used against Jewish members who opposed the boycott.

The seminar was the first of three called “The Legacy of Hope: Antisemitism, the Holocaust and Remembrance, yesterday and today” that the union undertook to hold as a result of a resolution at its congress last May. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt chaired the meeting.

Six academics, including Mr Hirsh and Mr Hickey, spoke, with a panel debate at the end. Panellist Mary Davis, professor of labour history at the London Metropolitan University, admitted she felt “isolated and, yes, intimidated” at last May’s congress because she was the only Jew present and the only one prepared to speak out against the boycott.

Mr Hickey denied Professor Davis had been intimidated and then attacked Mr Hirsh. “David Hirsh’s contribution was supposed to be about the existence of a variety of forms of antisemitism. The only thing we heard was the union discussing the boycott question. The discussion of the appropriateness of a boycott of Israel by the UCU is not an example of antisemitism, and to ignore all of the real forms of antisemitism in Europe today is, quite simply, a disgrace.”

Mr Hickey said Mr Hirsh’s accusations about institutional racism, antisemitism and intimidation were “a traducement of the truth and it’s a straightforward lie and the author knows it. There has been no intimidation — the union and the chief executive would not allow it.”

Mr Hirsh hit back: “He said there was no intimidation in UCU notwithstanding all the examples I gave. But that explains the structure of intimidation in UCU. They don’t want any debate of evidence. We are routinely accused of being liars for Israel, but I would like to hear the evidence.

“Is the Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (which described an academic boycott of Israel as ‘anti-Jewish’) a liar for Israel, or are the people who wrote letters to UCU liars for Israel? The structure of intimidation is that we are ‘liars for Israel’ and that’s a really serious problem.”

This report, by Leon Symons, is from the JC.

Note by David Hirsh:

Leon Symons is wrong to say that Mary Davis was the only Jew present at the 2009 UCU Congress.  The point I have made is that there were no Jews present at that Congress who were prepared to speak against the boycott.  Mary Davis is against the boycott and did make a procedural move against the boycott but did not speak against it in the debate.  Of course there are lots of Jews at UCU Congress who are prepared to speak for the boycott.   My piece on that Congress is here:  https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/michael-cushman-and-the-jew-free-ucu-congress/

Tom Hickey’s point was telling.   Leon Symons is right to report that he accused me, and everybody else who raises the issue of antisemitism in the union of doing so dishonestly – of being liars for Israel.  I responded that by doing so Hickey demonstrates the precise nature of the intimidation.  People who raise the issue of antisemitism in the union are not related to as people with whom the boycotters disagree – there is no debate, presentation of evidence, or arguement – instead they are related as people who are liars for Israel – and denounced as such.  So if you raise a question about antisemitism in the union, somebody will intimidate you by accusing you of being part of a conspiracy to lie in order to try to de-legitimize criticism of Israeli human rights abuses.  People who raise the issue of antisemitism are denounced as liars.  No evidence is ever offered to show that we do not mean what we say.  Ever.

The text of my talk at this UCU event is here:  https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/david-hirshs-talk-at-ucu/

Why Left Wing Students Should Not Support Boycotts of Israel

David Hirsh’s talk at UCU

The Legacy of Hope: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Resistance, Yesterday and Today

Chaired by Sally Hunt

We have heard a lot about fighting antisemitism a long time ago and far away.  I wish to turn to events closer to home.

Antisemitism within the UCU started to become a serious problem when people in the union began to support the campaign to boycott Israeli universities, but no other universities in the world.   This campaign has dominated academic union Congresses in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Normally trade unionists aim to make links with other trade unionists across international boundaries.  Normally academics make links with other academics in other countries.   But in our union Israelis have been treated differently.  Instead of seeking to work with Israeli colleagues for peace and against bigotry, the dominant faction in our union has tried again and again to exclude Israelis from our community.

Since 2003 it has become clear that antisemitic ways of thinking and antisemitic practices have been imported into our union alongside this campaign to punish Israeli academics.

September 2006

Report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (p 41):

“We conclude that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are …   anti-Jewish in practice.”

18 January 2007

The Union response to the Parliamenary Inquiry was

(1)  to conflate the criticism that boycotts were anti Jewish in practice with a charge which was not made, that UCU members hate Jews.

(2)  to declare that criticism of Israel is not antisemitic – although the charge was made in relation to the union setting up an institutional exclusion from British campuses on the basis of nationality – and was not made in relation to criticism of Israel.

(3) the union says that those who raise the issue of antisemitism do so in bad faith in order to silence criticism of Israeli human rights abuses.   It produces no evidence regarding the bad faith of those who raise the issue.

(4) the union replies to a charge of institutional antisemitism in the union by saying that the inquiry ought to have looked into the issue of Islamophobia instead.

76 members of the UCU signed a letter in the Times Higher taking issue with UCU’s denials in the face of criticism by the parliamentary inquiry.  The union did not respond to the disquiet articulated by these members.  Silence.

UCU Congress 2007 passed the following clause as union policy:

“…Congress believes that … criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.”

This statement is an irresponsible denial of the possibility of antisemitism since ‘criticism of israel’ is evidently sometimes antisemitic and sometimes not antisemitic.

UCU Congress 2008 passed the following clause as union policy:

“Criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic”

But nobody has ever heard criticism “as such”.  They have only ever heard this or that particular criticism of Israel.  Some of them are antisemitic and some of them are not.  So again, UCU’s mode of denial was irresponsible for an antiracist union.

19 June 2007
“The boycott… attempts to impose a discriminatory sanction on Israeli academics that its advocates do not seek to apply to any other nation, even in situations of conflict where far greater human rights abuses are being committed. …it is a crude effort to delegitimize Israel as a country and express hostility for its people.”

August 2007

Gert Weisskirchen, a veteran German Social Democrat member of the  Bundestag, antiracist, and official of the OSCE responsible for combatting antisemitism in Europe asked the UCU for a meeting about antisemitism in the Union.  The union leadership could not find half an hour to sit and hear his concerns.   Silence.  39 UCU members signed a letter in the Times Higher asking the union to meet with Weisskirchen.  The Union did not respond.

September 2007
UCU was advised by its own lawyer, Lord Lester QC, one of the foremost human-rights lawyers in the UK, that making a call to boycott Israeli institutions would run a serious risk of infringing discrimination legislation, and that the call to boycott was considered to be outside the aims and objects of the UCU.
13 May 2008
“Stop the Boycott” published the legal opinion given to it by Michael J Beloff QC and Pushpinder Saini QC.  Neither are glove puppets of “the Jews” or of “the Zionists” or any such thing.  Both are senior QCs, specialists in employment and discrimination law, with reputations to safeguard.

1 “…It would be unlawful for the union to pass” a boycott motion at Congress.

The motion purports to be less than a boycott motion but is in fact a boycott motion.

The motion discriminates against Israelis on the basis of nationality and it discriminates against Jews in a number of indirect ways.

2 The motion is “ultra vires” because it is a breach of the union’s own fundamental and foundational commitment to equality.

The motion is therefore unlawful partly because it violates, in a profound way and not in a purely formal or technical way, UCU’s own law and its own core values. This problem cannot be addressed by fiddling with the wording of the union’s Aims and Objects. It could only be addressed by changing the commitment to equality which is at the heart of the UCU.

3 The motion would be a breach of the Race Relations Act because it would impose on Israeli academics (and potentially Jewish academics) the duty to explain their politics as a pre-condition to having normal academic contact.

4 Debating a motion of this kind is a further breach of the Race Relations Act because such a debate creates an environment which normalizes antisemitic rhetoric and which would create a hostile environment to Jewish and Israeli members and non-members of the union.


May 24 2008

Dov Stekel, Letter to Sally Hunt, General Secretary of UCU:
“…this is the only organization with which I have been involved in which I have been made to feel uncomfortable as a Jew…   Repeated calls for boycott of Israeli institutions, the circulation of vitriolic, offensive and untrue allegations, the fact that Jewish members have either been excluded or bullied out of the activists list, have led to a culture in UCU that I have to describe as institutionally anti-semitic. …I am sure that the individuals involved do not themselves mean to be anti-semitic;  but the net effect of these actions is to create a culture in the trade union in which Jews and Israelis feel alienated or excluded.”
May 30 2008
“…Now for the third time our own union has chosen to go down the road of considering ‘the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions’.   The tones are mellow but they give me a shiver and make me feel my Jewishness in a new way.”
3 June 2008
Deborah Lynn Steinberg, UCU member, University of Warwick wrote:
“It is an infringement of my rights as a member to be co-opted into action that violates anti-discrimination policies and law and that compromises the mission of the Union…”
8 June 2008
Stephen Soskin President Buckinghamshire New University UCU, High Wycombe Branch:
“The lesson we have to draw from this Congress is that the majority of delegates and the leadership of UCU wish to pursue their biased policy against Israel, some of which is in my view racist and anti Semitic, with as little discussion as possible and with the widest possible anonymity.  None of us should allow this to happen and we must continue to speak out, however uncomfortable this is.” 

23 June 2008
Leslie Klaff, a lawyer from Sheffield Hallam University resigns from union:
“The UCU’s adoption of Motion 25 at Congress on May 28th 2008, and the NEC’s subsequent decision of June 13th to refer the question of its implementation to a Union committee, notwithstanding specialist legal advice that it breaches anti-discrimination legislation and Union rules, is further evidence of the UCU’s continuing and relentless obsession with the academic boycott of Israel…”
1 July 2008

“The discussion of the boycott project on the UCU activists’ list … There has been a constant deployment of some of the most traditional stereotypes of anti-Semitism, thinly concealed under the figleaf of anti-Zionism.  Repeated (and demonstrably false) claims have been made that Israel is committing genocide, and is comparable to the Nazis.  Those who have not shared the dominant hostility to Israel have been compared to members of an alien species. It has been explicitly asserted by Union activists that those members who resist this demonising of the Jewish state, and who are concerned about the double standards being deployed in the boycott project, are manipulatively trying to distract others from Israel’s crimes, and are indeed part of a conspiracy to do so.  The Union has failed to protect its Jewish members from this constant vilifying of Jewish self-determination. Formal complaints about the creation of an atmosphere hostile to many Jews have been dismissed by the Union as groundless. Even more worryingly, complaints which have been made about the possibility of institutional anti-Semitism have not even been addressed by the Union.  Silence.

The UCU’s obsessional determination to ostracise and punish Israel, and its persistent indifference to the concerns and fears of its Jewish members, have created an atmosphere within the Union which is hostile  …. I, like many others, can no longer bear the shame and embarrassment of belonging to an institution which is willing to discriminate against Jews, and whose readiness to do so is supported by leading members of its Executive Committee. …This Union is no longer a fit place for those who think that Jews have the same rights of self-determination, self-defence, and national identity as other peoples do, and I hereby resign from it.

7 July 2008
Norman Geras, Political Philosopher, career-long AUT member:
“To be a Jew in UCU today is to be, in some sort, a supplicant, pleading with the would-be boycotters and those unmoved to oppose them …, pleading for Israeli academics to be accepted as having the same status as other academics …, pleading that Jewish supporters of the rights of academics in the Jewish state should not be made to feel isolated in their own union… . Well, not to put too fine a point on it, shove that. Not today, not tomorrow, and not any time.”

21 August 2008

UCU activist Jenna Delich posted a link to a piece of antisemitic conspiracy theory from the website of David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan.  Mike Cushman, one of the leaders within our union of the campaign to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic community, recommended Delich to take legal action against a website in order to keep this story out of the public domain.

October 2008

Physicist Raphaël Lévy resigns from UCU

The union has accepted without being moved the resignation of Jewish and antiracists union members, including philosopher Eve Garrard, philosopher Tim Crane, lawyer Eric Heinze, Professor of English Sarah Annes Brown, and Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies & Judaism Jonathan Campbell.   The union has excluded sociologist David Hirsh permanently from the UCU e-list.   …  I have considered the ethical implications of remaining a UCU member and I thereby resign.

20 February 2009

Mike Cushman posts an article on a public website which lists the number of Jewish people in parliament in order to construct an argument about how Tony Blair required Jewish “Zionist” money to run the New Labour project after he had cut Labour’s reliance on trade union funding.

May 27 2009

BRICUP, the British organisation behind the boycott of Israeli academics, held a fringe meeting at UCU Congress in 2009.

One question came from Sean Wallis, UCL UCU branch secretary. He wanted to speak about how UCU should debate a boycott, whether it’s legal or not.  One of the threats he mentioned was from lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.”  Sean Wallis never explained what he thought was the connection between anti boycott lawyers in Britain and allegedly stolen money from Lehman Brothers in New York.

December 2009

The Human Rights Commission is a national institution of post apartheid South Africa.   It ruled last December that the statements of Mongani Masuku on the subject of Israel amounted to antisemitic hate speech.  He was invited to the UK on a trip paid for by the University and College Union to promote the exclusion of Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic community.

The Human Rights Commission does not makes its judgments frivolously.  The Human Rights Commission is aware of the distinction between criticism of Israel and antisemitism.  The Human Rights Commission is not pro-Israel and is not concerned with defending the reputation of Israel.  It is concerned with racism.

Masuku has openly and repeatedly stated that South African trade unions would target Jewish supporters of Israel in South Africa and “make their lives hell”.  He urges that “every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our brothers and sisters in Palestine”.

The Human Rights Commission recognized unequivocally that using anti-Israel rhetoric, Masuku has attempted to mobilize South African trade unionists against Jews in South Africa.  Masuku believes that Jews who are not anti-Zionist are “agents of apartheid and friends of Hitler” and he proposes to relate to them as though they were both.

UCU has paid for this man to tour Britain’s campuses to make the argument for a boycott of Israeli universities.

Surely, when it was explained to UCU that Masuku was here to use antisemitic hate speech then it would have realised that it has made a mistake?

But no.  The distinction between criticism of Israel and antisemitism has been explained to UCU countless times over the past decade but UCU is not interested and it continues to turn a blind eye to antisemitism.

A UCU spokesperson told a journalist from the Jerusalem Post that the sources of the evidence against Masuku were not credible.

The UCU spokesperson did not understand who the South African Human Rights Commission is or the significance of what it judged.

But there is nothing new about this.  UCU has demonstrated repeatedly that it is simply not bothered by antisemitism if it comes packaged in the language of criticism of Israel.

Jews in UCU have been bullied, have resigned, have been pushed out and have been silenced.  The situation is so serious that at the last UCU Congress there were no Jews left who were prepared to oppose the boycott campaign.

June 4, 2009

Jon Pike,

Resignation letter from UCU National Executive.

“We have a union that has allowed the distribution of antisemitic material on its internal lists, and the peddling of antisemitic conspiracy theories by some of its members, whilst banning anti-racist and Jewish members who have objected to such material.

We have a union from which hundreds of members – many of them Jewish – have resigned in protest at the unwarranted exceptionalism of its attitude to Israel.  I believe that many more will do so.

We have a union that entirely refuses to investigate concern about institutional antisemitism when raised through the proper channels, by members. The UCU is now the most complacent public institution in Britain with respect to the current rise in antisemitism.”

David Hirsh

Goldsmiths, University of London, UCU