UCU Congress backs UCU’s antisemitic speaker

UCU Congress debated and voted against the following motion:

Congress notes that:

UCU invited Bongani Masuku to a meeting in December 2009 to discuss Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel;

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found that at a rally at the University of the Witwatersrand in March 2009 Masuku ‘uttered numerous anti-Semitic remarks which were seen to have incited violence and hatred amongst the students who were present.’

The SAHRC has determined that these statements, and others made publicly by Masuku, amount to hate speech prohibited by the South African constitution;

the SAHRC finding makes it clear that Masuku does not deny making the remarks attributed to him;

These remarks were publicly available on the internet well before UCU’s invitation to Masuku was issued.

Congress dissociates itself from Masuku’s repugnant views.

Congress censures those elected members responsible for inviting Masuku to participate in a meeting hosted by the union.[Michael Yudkin tells us that this final sentence of censure was removed before the motion was put]

This is what the South African Human Rights Commission said about Masuku:

“21. On the day in question Mr Masuku was speaking to students who included both Jewish Zionists and Palestinian supporters. There appeared to already have been noted tension between these two groups. Therefore by Mr Masuku making those remarks he surely intended to incite violence and hatred that was already potentially imminent amongst these two groups. COSATU members of Palestinian supporters present at this rally could easily have been incited to hate, and even attack their Jewish counterparts. This is exactly what Section 16(2) of the Constitution seeks to prevent.

22. Mr Masuku’s heated statements made amidst an already tense audience appeared to advocate hatred against Jews and all other supporters of Israel. This is inciting violence based on religion, an area which freedom of expression does not protect.

23. Mr Masuku in his response to the allegations put to him by the South African Human Rights Commission, states that he was heckled by what he refers to “as a particular section of the audience – most of whom seemed to be members of the South African Union of Jewish Students”. This statement leave little doubt that the references made by him referred to Jews.

24. The statement that “it will be hell” for any group of students, taken in its proper context is intimidatory and threatening. It is conveyed as a warning to the effect that should one support Israel, one would suffer harm. Harm for the purposes of Section 16(2), as confirmed in the Freedom Front decision is wider than mere physical harm.

25. In responding to the allegations relating to the emails sent by him, Mr Masuku fails to deal with the context in which he used the words “…whether Jew or whomsoever does so, must not just be encouraged but forced to leave…” These words in effect come across that unless South Africans agree with his views they should be forced to leave South Africa.

26. In view of the content of the speech made and emails sent by Mr Masuku it is clear that the expressions amount to the advocacy of hatred and thus would not fall under the protection of Section 16(1) of the Constitution.

27. The comments and statements made are of an extreme nature that advocate and imply that the Jewish and Israeli community are to be despised, scorned, ridiculed and thus subjecting them to ill-treatment on the basis of their religious affiliation. A prima facie case of hate speech is clearly established as the statements and comments by Mr. Masuku are offensive and unpalatable to society.


28. In light of the above, the Commission hereby finds that the statements made by Mr. Bongani Masuku amounts to hate speech.”

Posted in UCU. 11 Comments »

UCU again backs the exclusion of Israelis from the global academic community and from the international workers’ movement

From Stop The Boycott:

This week, UCU Congress passed four motions that relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

  • SFC14 encouraged the Union to build links with Palestinian academics and unions
  • SFC15, “Palestinian Solidarity, BDS, and Histadrut”, reaffirms UCU’s support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel “within legal constraints”, and forces UCU to establish and fund a “research centre into complicity with Israeli breaches”, a BDS website, and an annual pro-boycott conference.
  • It also demands UCU severs all ties with the Histadrut, the Israeli TUC
  • An amendment to this motion, which would have referred the decision on Histadrut to a special committee, was defeated.
  • SFC16 “Ariel and West Bank Colonisation” formally starts the procedure to institute an academic boycott against Ariel College. This motion passed, though it should be noted that a similar motion was passed last year.
  • An emergency motion, tabled during the Conference itself, condemned Israel over the flotilla incident, and called on the UK Government not to change the law on arresting Israeli visitors under Universal Jurisdiction.
  • The motion “UCU invitation to Bongani Masuku of South Africa”, which sought to dissociate UCU from Masuku’s offensive views and actions, was overwhelmingly defeated.

In a year when Higher Education is facing unprecedented cuts, UCU has revealed its distorted priorities. It is converting itself from a Trade Union into an organisation focused on promoting division and discrimination in the Middle East.

UCU’s attack on the Histadrut, Israel’s independent Trade Union centre, is a deeply disturbing escalation. Once again, UCU has shown that it does not only object to the Israeli Government, but to all Israeli workers. The membership fees of hard-working academics money will be diverted away from helping them keep their jobs and will instead be used to fund Union-breaking in Israel.

Sally Hunt still holds the international portfolio on the Trades Union Congress’ General Council. She cannot hold this position, which requires her to work closely with the Histadrut, while her Union is working to undermine them. If she has any honour, Sally Hunt must resign her TUC portfolio immediately.

Gaza flotilla – some alternative views

Martin in the Margins writes:

“The lack of comment on the Gaza flotilla incident from progressive pro-Israel voices has allowed knee-jerk anti-Zionists to dominate online reaction – well, Twitter, anyway. I guess most people are waiting for the dust to settle and the full story of this awful tragedy to emerge. It’s almost certain to be less straightforward than the ‘Israel-murders-harmless-aid-workers’ narrative that’s currently doing the rounds. In the meantime, here are some useful alternatives to the dominant narrative.”

Updates as I come across them: