Antisemitism and anti-Israelism – things from the web

Richard Kuper on the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism (by Eve Garrard)

Eve Garrard

When people disagree with a definition, their reasons for doing so usually include the fact that either (a) the definition contains some false claims about its subject-matter; or (b) the definition omits some true claims about its subject matter. Richard Kuper strongly objects to the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism; indeed he warmly endorses the UCU decision to refuse to have anything to do with it. The puzzle about his attack on the Definition is that his reasons for disagreeing with it don’t include either (a) or (b) above. He thinks that what the Definition says is true; and though he seems to think it omits to say certain things, he’s wrong about that in ways which are so blatant that it’s hard to believe that he can possibly mean it.

Kuper’s main grouse about the definition is that he thinks it conflates anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of Israel; in fact he thinks it can only be understood as ‘a propaganda campaign by Israel and its supporters against the country’s deteriorating public image’….

Read Eve’s whole piece on normblog.

Letters about UCU’s rejection of EUMC Antisemitism guidelines

From a piece in the Times Higher,

Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, wrote to vice-chancellors on 1 June.

“Following these developments, and in light of UCU’s history of behaviour, we now believe it to be an institutionally racist organisation,”

Sarah Annes Brown writes:

“Delegates at the UCU congress voted overwhelmingly for a motion to reject the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s (EUMC) working definition of anti-Semitism, a set of guidelines drawn up in 2005.

The motion states that despite not being ratified by the UK government or by the European Union, the definition is being used by bodies such as the National Union of Students and local students’ unions in relation to activities on campus.

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

It goes on to say: “that UCU will make no use of the EUMC definition (eg, in educating members or dealing with internal complaints); that UCU will dissociate itself from the EUMC definition in any public discussion on the matter in which UCU is involved; 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”.

This motion is related to the UCU’s longstanding preoccupation with an academic boycott of Israel. Many members have resigned over this matter and others have expressed great disquiet. The union has refused to deal with members’ concerns and in 2009 voted down a motion to investigate the resignations.

In the same year, it invited Bongani Masuku, international relations secretary of COSATU (South Africa’s equivalent of the TUC), to speak at a seminar to discuss a boycott of Israel, even though the South African Human Rights Commission had deemed that Masuku’s statements amounted to hate speech against the country’s Jewish community.

It seems quite bizarre for the union to proscribe any consideration of the working definition, to dismiss the whole document and to resolve to disassociate itself from it in any relevant public discussion.

Should this really be a priority for members when higher and further education face unprecedented cuts and a radical overhaul of fees?

Sarah Annes Brown, Professor of English literature, Anglia Ruskin University”