Instead of adressing its antisemitism, UCU proposes to change the definition of antisemitism

This motion is proposed by the National Executive Committee of the UCU for UCU Congress in Harrogate next week:

70 EUMC working definition of anti-semitism – National Executive Committee

Congress notes with concern that the so-called ‘EUMC working definition of antisemitism’, while not adopted by the EU or the UK government and having no official status, is being used by bodies such as the NUS and local student unions in relation to activities on campus.

Congress believes that the EUMC definition confuses criticism of Israeli government policy and actions with genuine antisemitism, and is being used to silence debate about Israel and Palestine on campus.

Congress resolves:

  1. that UCU will make no use of the EUMC definition (e.g. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints)
  2. that UCU will dissociate itself from the EUMC definition in any public discussion on the matter in which UCU is involved
  3. that UCU will campaign for open debate on campus concerning Israel’s past history and current policy, while continuing to combat all forms of racial or religious discrimination.

The EUMC working definition is downloadable here.

David Hirsh writes:

The EUMC definition says it may, in some contexts, be antisemitic to accuse Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to their union; to say Israel is a racist endeavour; to apply double standards; to boycott Israelis but not others for the same violations; to say that Israeli policy is like Nazi policy; to hold Jews collectively responsible for the actions of Israel.  All of these things have been going on a lot inside the academic unions for the last eight years.  Instead of addressing the antisemitic culture, the leadership of the union now proposes to alter the definition of antisemitism.  The union wants to carry on treating ‘Zionists’ as disloyal; singling out Israel and only Israel for boycott; holding Israeli universities responsible for their government; allowing ‘Zionist’ union members to be denounced as Nazis or supporters of apartheid.

The precise form that bullying typically takes within UCU is that people who complain about antisemitism are accused of doing so in bad faith in a dishonest attempt to outlaw criticism of Israel.  The antisemitism isn’t seen, isn’t acknowledged, the accuser is accused; and Israel is blamed for the unseen and unacknowledged antisemitism.

The new motion makes this form of bullying into official union policy.  Even though the definition says that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’, the new motion declares that the definition outlaws criticism and is intended to silence debate.

UCU will now oppose all bigotry except for one particular category: racism which can be said to resemble criticism of Israel.  UCU will oppose racist and religious antisemitism, but political antisemitism will be protected under the new policy.

Israel murders children?  Not antisemitic.  Israel controls US foreign policy?  Not antisemitic.  Magen David = Swastika stuck on your office door?  Not antisemitic.  Jews invent antisemitism to de-legitimise criticism of Israel?  Not antisemitic.  Host a man found guilty of hate speech by the South African Human Rights commission?  Not antisemitic.  Exclude nobody but Israelis from the global academic community?  Not antisemitic.

It is clear now how antisemitism against Israelis far away, in the form of a boycott campaign, also threatens ‘zionists’ within the union.  We have learnt that the boycott campaign brings antisemitism with it into any organisation which treats it as one side in a legitimate debate. UCU have understood it too, now.  The only thing left for them, now, is to change the defiinition of antisemitism so that they fall outside of it.

David Hirsh

UPDATE: CST comment on this resolution is here.

Robert Fine on antisemitism

click here for links to some of the evidence that UCU has a problem with antisemitism.

Steve Cohen on how the boycott campaign made him feel.

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