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”


6 Responses to “Letters about UCU’s rejection of EUMC Antisemitism guidelines”

  1. David Kessler Says:

    One wonders if UCU have come up with their own credible definition of antisemitism, or even made a serious attempt to do so. Their talk of boycotting the democratic Jewish state, whilst not boycotting its undemocratic neighbours, gives some indication of why they are none too concerned about having a clear definition of antisemitism – much less of outlawing the practice.

  2. Ex-UCU Says:

    It would appear that UCU are willing to accept a definition of antisemitism that excludes from the outset even the possibility that it can exist in conneciton with anti-ZIonism. Previous motions have included states that “criticism of Israel” can never be “antisemitic”.
    Unfortunately for UCU not only is this view theoretically untenable, but is also undermined by numerous statements and comments from UCU anti-ZIonist activists themselves. (One need only refer to Wallis’s comments about Lehman’s Brothers; Cushman’s citing of an antisemitic article, Deliech’s link to Duke’ site (as well as other member’s agreeng with the content of the article referred to). There are of course more examples on the pages of Engage.
    As David Hirsh states, what the UCU really want is to be given carte blanche to utlise, and so legitimise, antisemitic sources in their attacks on Israeli academics, Israeli institutions and, perhaps most relevant in the present context, those British academics (predominantly, but not only Jews) who raise the question of anti-Jewish hostilty when it arises in conneciton with Israel.
    As Engage has been arguing for some time, this attack on anti-antisemitism is further evidence that the BDS campaign can, and in this case, does, bring with it antisemitic ways of thinking not only in relation to Israel and Palestine, but also impacts negatively on British academics.
    It is to be noted, of course, that this attack on anti-antisemitism is contained not only in the exclusion of the EUMC definition.
    It is present also in the antisemitic belief (present in the preamble to the motion) that those who use the EUMC working definition are dishonest and are liars and that their “real” aim is not to rid the union of contemporary antisemitism, but to “slience debate” on Israel and Palestine.
    The motion is antisemitic in intent and in effect.

  3. Mark 2 Says:

    Sarah A Brown’s comment reflects my own thoughts – why would a union whose principal aim should surely be the unity of is members in order to fight for their emloyment rights and related issues, go so far out on a llimb as UCU has done to alientate members on a wholly unrelated issue?

  4. Ex-UCU Says:

    Because whilst UCU have lost virtually every issue relevant to its members – pensions, cuts, wages – victory against an imaginary enemy deflects from Hunt’s, Hickey’s UCU Left’s and the NEC’s ability to organise a p*** up in a brewery and to represent their members effectively.
    That’s why.

  5. Gale Says:

    Arab apartheid / Muslim apartheid are the largest ‘apartheid systems’, that exist today. All non-Arabs and/or non-Muslims are second class citizens. Among minorities that feel the wrath of the bigoted Arab-Muslim world are:

    * Berbers (native N. Africans, before Arab invasion).
    * Copts (indigenous Egyptians suffer from both: Arab racism and Islamic bigotry).
    * Kurds (Examples include: [Saddam’s] Iraq and Syria.
    * Blacks, in Arab lands or in Arab ruled Africa like the genocide in the Sudan and slavery in both Sudan and in Mauritania.
    * Asians, particularly in the Gulf Arab states. [Sex slaves or “plain” slaves).
    * Maronites-Christians [Native Lebanese] suffer from both Arab ethnic racism and religious bigotry, like the massacres in the 1970s by local Muslims and by Palestinian/Syrian forces.
    * Assyrians, are/have been being persecuted both racially and religiously. Still very much marginalized in Iraq, for example.
    * Iran is not an Arab country but racism is huge against Kurds, Jews, Turkmens, etc. So is anti-non-Muslim bigotry against Christians, Bahai, Zoroastrians and other in the Islamic republic.
    * Turkey is also a Muslim non-Arab country and Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and other ethnicities have been through much suffering, genocide. Still there’s great wide racism against non-Turkish ethnic groups. Turkey’s policy in Cyprus has also been recognized as a real Apartheid by many. All non-Muslims are automatically branded as “foreigners” at the “moderate” Islamic supremacy of Turkey.
    * Al-Akhdam in Yemen.
    * Gypsies in Jordan.

    From anti-Jewish Apartheid:

    – The Arab racist apartheid against the Jews attempted genocide ever since the 1920s, (Like Mufti of “Palestine at his incited massacres, and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who called simply ‘to kill Jews’).
    – Chased out a Million Jews in the late 1940.
    – Has boycotted and demonized [every logical defensive action is branded “racist”] the Jewish democratic-free-equal-to-all state only because it’s the “other”. It is neither Muslim nor Arabs.
    – The Arab racist world continues to play with Arab-Palestinians (grandchildren of Arab immigrants) like ping-pong against Israel.



    As if we don’t know the ‘Arab oil lobby’s power’ over the UN, other major international organizations and some African officials to go along with the Arab propaganda.

    Despite some non-Arabs who jump on this wagon out of: ignorance, of confusion complex, or of sheer bigotry, never forget, that this entire “apartheid, racism” label was invented by Arab racists ganging up in the UN since 1975.

    Even promoter of the apartheid-slur J. Carter admitted on CNN: “I recognize that Israel is a wonderful democracy with freedom of speech and equality of treatment under the law between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis.” http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0612/12/acd.02.html

    Incidentally, the lying machine also created a fake “memorandum” claiming that N. Mandela ever uttered this crappy analogy.

    Last but not least:

    Isn’t it true that the anti-Jewish “apartheid” slur campaign is: 1) to demonize Jews and 2) to hide the real apartheid practice by the Arab-Islamic world?

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