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.