Ariel Hessayon, Historian at Goldsmiths, Resigns from UCU

Dear Ms Hunt,

Following the recent motion at the UCU congress in Harrogate on 30 May 2011 to reject the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism (overwhelmingly carried), I have taken the decision to resign my membership of the UCU.  Mine is not the first resignation, nor do I expect it will be the last.  A number of people have already resigned from our Union in protest at policies that are antisemitic in effect (though arguably not intent).  These are people with far better credentials as union activists and anti-racists than myself.  So I do not expect you – and certainly no one who has been pushing these motions – to be unduly troubled. After all, and so far as I’m aware, we’re still waiting for an investigation into the reasons for the initial spate of resignations.

For my own part, I am an historian whose research interests and writings include studies of attitudes towards Jews and secret Jews in early modern England.  I have also looked at the ways in which modern histories of Jews and antisemitism reflect the present day concerns of their authors.  Based on my professional expertise, I have no doubt that the politically motivated rejection of the EUMC working definition has antisemitic implications.  Accordingly, I cannot in good conscience remain a member of a union that countenances the antics of such extremists; fanatics who seem at best oblivious and at worst disdainful of the consequences of their single-minded obsession: Israel.  Their relentless promotion of a boycott of Israeli Universities – and therefore by extension Israeli academics – at a time when their energies would be better channeled dealing with the ‘bread and butter’ issues that concern the vast majority of our membership has succeeded only in alienating people who while condemning the occupation, nonetheless believe in a just two-state solution as the best way to achieve peace in the region.  It also happens to be a fact that in their own way most of these people identify as Jews.

Yours sincerely,

Ariel Hessayon


13 Responses to “Ariel Hessayon, Historian at Goldsmiths, Resigns from UCU”

  1. Mira Vogel Says:

    Kind of lost for words, but wanted to commiserate, Ariel. That’s all.

  2. David Hirsh Says:

    Thanks, Ariel, so much for your support.

    It is miserable to be driven out of your union by antisemitism.

    Also still rather shocking.

  3. Ex-UCU Says:

    Do say, “Good, another Zionists gone”.
    Don’t say,”You know we passed a motion at Congress about Equality Impact Assessments……….well, I was thinking…………..”

    • Bill Says:

      I beliefe the dishonest apologetic term “Self Selection” comes to play here. Self-seleciton, of course, being a successful implementation of discrimination and harassment when the end results look, walk, talk and quack like you. UCU is just working to create a non-hostile environment within the union free of internal strife. That’s pretty much what Tony Greenstein said on these very pages.

      Unacceptable. Inexcusable. And likely illegal given the target group within the protected classification that’s being “self-selected” out. And of course as Hessayon says, there are more important priorities that the UCU needs to cover right now — and they need a full, representative and diverse membership to justify negotiating leverage, and with this process of separating the wheat from the chaff, their credibility as a negotiating unit is eroding.

  4. Absolute Observer Says:

    Perhaps when Sally Hunt responds, you could let us know what she says?

  5. Eve Garrard Says:

    What a very good resignation letter, Ariel. Commiserations, and please let us know if you get any response to it.

  6. UCU is actively alienating its Jewish members | Left Foot Forward Says:

    […] anti-Semitism as the reason. Following these resignations (the most recent of which happened yesterday), the UCU did not investigate these claims and has continued to ignore accusations from Jewish […]

  7. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    As I’ve said before, I didn’t resign from Natfhe (one of the component parts of UCU), but on retiring and moving, cancelled my direct debit. As a retired person, I didn’t need the union. However, my real reason was because of the rising tide of BDS activities.

    As a left-winger, democrat socialist and anti-racist all my adult life, I felt that there was no way I could remain, whatever advantages there might have been, a member of a trade union that was rapidly backing away from all the internationalist values I had been brought up with.

    No surprise that the then Branch Secretary failed to reply when I wrote to him in reply, saying much of the above.

    However, actually leaving a union while still in employment is much harder, and my commiserations to Ariel and all the others who have left for the same set of reasons.

    I will be very surprised if he receives anything more than a form letter from Sally Hunt.

  8. Ariel H Says:

    Thanks to everyone for their kind and supportive comments. I will of course keep you informed should I receive a response, and will continue to help in whatever way I can

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Ariel, the best way you can continue to help is to keep up the fight with us, here and anywhere else that takes your interest. As I’ve noted before, just because it’s the same old usual suspects who post here doesn’t mean we’re talking to ourselves. I have it on good authority that others, who would never dream of commenting (at least not here) read these columns and take heart from them and use what they find to fight the good fight elsewhere and in other ways.

  9. Sarah AB Says:

    I’m very sorry you have been put in this position.. I have written to the THE about the issue of the EUMC WD – here is the link.

    I don’t think the first paragraphs are as clear as they might be (I had to respond very quickly to the copy editor’s queries and they had implemented some changes).

    I wasn’t very impressed by the THE article about this issue.

  10. Michael Martin Says:

    I admire your courage and integrity!

  11. UCU is actively alienating its Jewish members « Adam Langleben's musings on life Says:

    […] anti-Semitism as the reason. Following these resignations (the most recent of which happened yesterday), the UCU did not investigate these claims and has continued to ignore accusations from Jewish […]

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