Tribunal in the Fraser case finds no antisemitism in UCU – a preliminary response from David Hirsh

“When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever say he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.”

(A old Jew of Galicia, from: The Captive Mind, by Czeslaw Milosz)

A co-ordinated campaign by Ronnie Fraser, his lawyers and his witnesses to try to intimidate critics of Israel with an invented accusation of antisemitism would indeed be vile and disgraceful.  This is what the Tribunal thought was

David Hirsh

David Hirsh

happening, and this explains the unusually intemperate and emotional language employed in its dismissal of Fraser’s case.

The Tribunal found against Fraser on everything: on technicalities, on legal argument, and on every significant issue of substance and of fact.  The Tribunal found everything the UCU said in its defence to be persuasive and it found nothing said by Fraser or any of his witnesses to be of any value.  The culture, the practices and the norms inside the union were found to be not antisemitic, either in intent or in effect.  Indeed, everything that Fraser and his witnesses experienced as antisemitic, the Tribunal judged to have been entirely appropriate.  In particular what was appropriate was the way that union staff, rules, structures and bodies operated.  Fraser said that there was a culture in which antisemitism was tolerated but the Tribunal did not accept that even one out of the very many stories that it was told was an indicator of antisemitism.

Instead the Tribunal found that “at heart” the case represented “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means… ” (para 178).  What political end?  The only possible political end is an attempt to defeat or silence campaigns against Israel.  This would certainly be impermissible in an Employment Tribunal, which is rightly concerned with issues such as antisemitism, outlined in the Equalities Act.

Of course the fight against antisemitism is also political.  But this cannot be the kind of politics to which the Tribunal objected.  If it was, then it would find every allegation of racism, sexism or homophobia to be impermissible, because political.  Opposition to antisemitic politics has always been central to campaigns against antisemitism.

The Tribunal makes clear that it meant that Fraser was trying to mobilize a bad-faith allegation of antisemitism in order to silence good-faith critics of Israel when it goes on in the next paragraph: “We are also troubled by the implications of the claim. Underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression….”  The Tribunal says that Fraser was trying to fool it into outlawing and branding criticism of Israel as antisemitic.  Of course, every racist claims that anti-racists disregard their right to free speech.  True, sometimes the Tribunal appears to veer towards the view that those who complain of antisemitism are simply over-sensitive and lacking in objective judgment.  But the central findings, that this is politics dressed up as litigation, and that this is an attempt to disallow free criticism, are allegations of bad faith.

Anybody who has been following the story within the union will be aware that the response of the Tribunal is precisely the same as the response with which opponents of antisemitism and of the boycott campaign were faced within the union.  The Tribunal backs the union’s way of thinking about antisemitism 100%.  The experience of going to the Tribunal, it turns out, is more of the same experience about which Fraser appealed to the Tribunal in the first place.

Fraser said that the key mode of intimidation in the UCU was a constant allegation of bad faith – the allegation that Jews who say they feel antisemitism are actually lying for Israel.  The Tribunal replied that the Jews who say they feel antisemitism are actually lying for Israel – they are dressing up a political end as a problem of racist exclusion.  In other words, the Tribunal answers that the accusation of bad faith made against Jews who say that they experienced antisemitism is appropriate.  The Tribunal employed The Livingstone Formulation.

Fraser argued that there were a large number of incidents which should be understood as exemplifying a culture whereby antisemitism was accepted as normal within the union.  Fraser called 34 witnesses to tell the Tribunal about the antisemitism which they had seen.   I want to start my own response to the judgment by outlining a number of the incidents which the Tribunal were told about in detail:

In 2006 Ronnie Fraser stood as a delegate to NATFHE conference (a predecessor to UCU).  It was said at the regional meeting that Fraser could not be a delegate because he was a Zionist and therefore a racist.  NATFHE held an investigation and found that this statement had not been antisemitic.

Israel has been relentlessly condemned at every UCU Congress, often by motions to boycott Israel.  There were no motions to boycott any other states.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism reported that the boycott debates were likely to cause difficulties for Jewish academics and students, to exclude Jews from academic life and to have a detrimental effect on Jewish Studies.  UCU responded that these allegations were made to stop people from criticizing Israel.  76 members of the UCU published a critique of the union’s response, but the union took no notice.  John Mann MP told the Tribunal that UCU had been unique among those criticized by the inquiry in its refusal to listen.

Sean Wallis, a local UCU official, said that anti-boycott lawyers were financed by “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down”.  Ronnie Fraser asked him whether he had indeed made this antisemitic claim.  Wallis admitted having said it.  But it was Fraser who, for the crime of asking, was found to have violated union rules concerning “rude or offensive communications”.

Gert Weisskirchen, responsible for combating antisemitism for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) asked the union leadership for a meeting to discuss antisemitism relating to the boycott.  The union did not meet with him.  When 39 union members protested publicly, the union ignored them.

The union invited South African Trade Unionist Bongani Masuku to speak at a pro-boycott conference in London.  Masuku was known to be under investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission for antisemitic hate speech.  Here is an example of what he had said:  “Bongani says hi to you all as we struggle to liberate Palestine from the racists, fascists and Zionists who belong to the era of their friend Hitler!  We must not apologise, every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our brothers and sisters in Palestine”.    Masuku also said  that vigilante action would be taken against Jewish families suspected of having members serving in the Israeli military, and that Jews who continued to stand up for Israel should “not just be encouraged but forced to leave South Africa”  The union ought to have known Masuku’s record.  Ronnie Fraser told the union about Masuku’s record.  Masuku was found guilty in South Africa of hate speech before speaking as a guest of UCU.  And months later, UCU Congress explicitly rejected a motion to dissociate itself from Masuku’s “repugnant views”.

The Activists’ List is an email list hosted by the union.

Ronnie Fraser argued on the list that there was no absolute blockade of Gaza.  In response, another union member said that he was like the Nazis at Theresenstadt.  The union found that there was nothing inappropriate about this comment.

Josh Robinson put together a detailed formal complaint about antisemitic language being employed by union members on the list.   He documented how people who opposed antisemitism on the activists’ list were routinely accused of being: deranged, crazy, nutters; Israeli agents; hysterical; dishonest; twisted; rotten Zionists; less than human; believers in a promised land; motivated by the fairy story of the Old Testament; genocidal; accepting of the murder of innocents; racist; pro-apartheid; supporters of ethnic cleansing; Nazis.  The Holocaust was referred to as an ‘attempted genocide’.   There followed volleys of insults made against those who raised concerns about this description of the Shoah.  The formal complaint was given to Tom Hickey to adjudicate.  Hickey himself, the Tribunal was told, had said that Israel is “more insidious and in some sense almost nastier” than Nazi Germany.  In the end, nobody even bothered to tell Robinson that his complaint had been dismissed.

A number of other people made similarly careful formal complaints.  The union did not once, ever, find that anything complained of was antisemitic.

A significant number of union members resigned over the issue of antisemitism.  Congress voted down a motion to investigate these resignations.  There was no mechanism for counting resignations over antisemitism, and such resignations were instead counted as being because of disagreements over the Middle East.

People who complained about antisemitism in the union were routinely confronted with accusations that they spoke in bad faith.  They were told that they were making it up in order to try to silence criticism of Israel.  They were accused of ‘crying antisemitism’.

In court Sally Hunt, the General Secretary of the union was asked hypothetically:  “If somebody said ‘if you want to understand the Jews, read Mein Kampf’, would that be antisemitic?”  She answered that it would not necessarily be antisemitic.

The Tribunal heard about all these events and, like the union, judged none of them to be evidence of antisemitism.  It said (para 156):

The Claimant is a campaigner. He chooses to engage in the politics of the union in support of Israel and in opposition to activists for the Palestinian cause. When a rugby player takes the field he must accept his fair share of minor injuries….  Similarly, a political activist accepts the risk of being offended or hurt on occasions by things said or done by his opponents (who themselves take on a corresponding risk).

It is unimaginable that a tribunal today would say the same thing to a woman who complained of sexual harassment at work after she chose to wear a tight skirt to the office; or after she had chosen to campaign in favour of women’s rights.  But this is what the Tribunal said to a Jew.

The rugby analogy demonstrates one of the central problems with the approach taken by the Tribunal.  The Tribunal was unable to make the distinction between arguments about Israel and Palestine on the one hand, and evidence of antisemitism on the other.  The result is the position that since Fraser took on the responsibility of defending Israel, then he should expect some antisemitism as part of the “game”.  The Tribunal also mentioned that it had been inappropriate to allow Tom Hickey to sit in judgment over formal claims of antisemitism.  Why?  It says (para 181) that the reason is that he is a “well-known pro-Palestinian activist”.  How insulting is it to “pro-Palestinian activists” to suggest that they are unqualified to judge what is antisemitic and what is not?  Being pro-Palestine should be one thing, being antisemitic should be quite another.  The Tribunal found itself unable to understand the distinction.  The reason why Hickey was an inappropriate judge, as the Tribunal was told, was because he was not good at making the distinction between antisemitism and criticism of Israel, not because he was ‘pro-Palestinian’.

Speaking for myself, I never chose to play Rugby.  I found that my union was considering setting up an exclusion of our Israeli colleagues from UK campuses, so I tried to make arguments against it doing so.  I was, as it were, pushed onto a rugby field.  There, I found myself being outnumbered and repeatedly knocked to the floor by organised forwards.  I was confronted by relentless if usually subtle antisemitic rhetoric, hostility and accusations of bad faith.  I appealed to the union, who was playing the part of the referee.  But the ref said that it was neutral between the two Rugby teams and I should just get on with the game.  But I wasn’t part of a Rugby team and I didn’t want to play.  I only wanted my union to stop with the hatred of Israel and with the antisemitism which came with it.  And when I tried to step out of the Rugby field and say publicly what was going on, I was punished for breaking the rules of the game.

While I’m talking about my own experience, please indulge me while I tell you about a couple of others.   The witnesses told the tribunal about hundreds of incidents, my own happen to be clearest in my memory.

There was a time when I, and a number of others, many of whom eventually gave evidence for Ronnie in front of the Tribunal, were trying to have our voices heard on the Activists’ List.  Most of us, unlike Ronnie, were not particularly ‘pro-Israel’ but were strong critics of Israeli policy and of the occupation.  Indeed some of my own criticism of Israel was so strong, that it was read out to another witness under cross examination as being indistinguishable from the antisemitic rhetoric of which Ronnie complained.  But the witness explained to the Tribunal how it was different.  Nevertheless, if ever we raised the issue of antisemitic rhetoric on the list, we would immediately be denounced for crying antisemitism in bad faith in order to silence criticism of Israel.  It was a difficult time.  We would try and explain what the problem was with the accusations that we supported the genocide of the Palestinians, or that we were racists, or that we were Nazis, and people would respond, immediately, relentlessly and in writing before hundreds of our union colleagues, that we only raised the issue of antisemitism in order to stifle their criticisms of Israel.

We appealed to the moderator of the list.  We said that this was a union space and that it should not be possible to bully us out of it with antisemitic rhetoric.  But the moderator acted as the referee in a tough rugby match between Israel and Palestine, rather than a union official making sure that the union was a safe place for British Jewish Trade Unionists.  One academic who had been particularly active at that time told the Tribunal that he had nearly had a nervous breakdown because of the way he was treated on the activist list.  The Tribunal explicitly praised his evidence, but it did not listen to his evidence and it did not discuss his evidence in its judgment.

One strategy I was minded to adopt at that time was to publish some of the antisemitic material from the list on the Engage website.  There was a closed culture within the union in which antisemitism was never recognised and was never thought to be a problem.  Institutional racism requires a heavy policing of the institutional boundaries to make sure that the values of the external world cannot intrude and the norms of the internal world cannot be seen.

In August 2007 I wrote an email on the activists’ list expressing concern at the antisemitic consequences of the campaign to boycott Israel and arguing that we should be aware that it is usual for antisemitic arguments to be positioned as one side in a legitimate democratic debate.  I was warned by the list moderator for the crime of saying this and told to “be more careful in my choice of language” otherwise I would be excluded from the discussion.  I was also told not to publish anything which appeared on the list.  I responded by saying that I would make no undertaking whatsoever not to publish antisemitic material from the list.  The Tribunal tells this story in its judgment but it chooses to delete the word “antisemitic”.  In para 93 of the judgment it reports: ‘Dr Hirsh responded, stating that he would “make no undertaking whatsoever” not to publish material from the List….’  I, and other critics of antisemitism were indeed excluded from the list while nobody was ever excluded from the list for writing antisemitic things.  Indeed, nothing that happened inside the union was ever judged to be antisemitic.  The Tribunal judge himself asked me whether I broke the rules.  I told him that as a whistleblower, I thought there were two conflicting principles.  The Tribunal chooses not even to consider or to describe this dilemma in its judgment, but to omit the word “antisemitic” from my refusal not to publish material.

I also told the Tribunal that the key mode of intimidation in the union is the relentless, constant accusation of bad faith directed mostly against Jews.   It was normal to suspect Jews of lying if they raised the issue of antisemitism.  When people raise the issue of antisemitism they are not to be believed because really, it is said, they are only trying to silence legitimate criticism of Israel.  In January 2010 I was asked by the union to speak in Brighton on the topic of “Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Resistance, Yesterday and Today” on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day.  I talked about the record of antisemitism within the union.  Tom Hickey, a union official and academic colleague, in public and in front of the General Secretary, said that everything I had said was a traducement of the truth and … a straightforward lie and the author knows it.  I explained the significance of the relentless accusation of bad faith to the Tribunal.  In their description of the event they write in their judgment: “Mr Hickey responded to Mr Hirsh’s remarks.  He denounced them as unwarranted and false.”  The Tribunal decided not to consider the point about the relentless bad faith allegation.  It  just left it out of its description and out of its deliberation.

The difficulty of explaining what has happened in the union, and what is wrong with the Tribunal’s judgment, is that it is always necessary to descend into detailed stories and analysis of stories.  There is no silver bullet.  Rather there are long and winding complex narratives all of which require interpretation.  There is no short cut to understanding the every-day harshness of being Jewish in the UCU.  I offered just two stories here.  There were 34 witnesses who gave evidence about the culture of antisemitism in the union.  Each told long, complex and nuanced stories.  The Tribunal wrote them off as people “ventilating their opinions” (para 149).   A very large number of incidents from over the years are documented and explained on the Engage website.

Whatever it is that Ronnie Fraser suffered within the union, he has now suffered doubly in the Tribunal.  That which he experienced as antisemitic was not only judged by the union, but now also by the Tribunal, to be not antisemitic; further, it was also judged to be entirely appropriate.  Ronnie complained that he was constantly accused of speaking in bad faith.  The Tribunal responded that those who raised the issue of antisemitism did indeed speak in bad faith, chose to play a rough game, and got what was coming to them.

The old Romanian Communist Party used to win elections with 100% of the vote.  Just this fact is enough to tell us that the process could not have been fair.  The University and College Union, and now the Tribunal, have judged that nothing that ever happened in the union was antisemitic.  Not one thing.  Zero.  Given the history of antisemitism in Europe and on the left, and given the hostility to Israel and to Israeli policy within the union, it is hardly plausible that hostility to Israel was never expressed in an antisemitic way.  An antiracist union has a responsibility to educate against antisemitism and to guard against it.  A Tribunal has the responsibility to recognise antisemitism when it occurs and to protect those who are bullied by it.  We live in a time and in a place where it is possible for a union and a Tribunal to fail to see antisemitism, even when it is shown to them in detail and even when its significance is explained to them.

David Hirsh

UCU member

41 Responses to “Tribunal in the Fraser case finds no antisemitism in UCU – a preliminary response from David Hirsh”

  1. Denis MacEoin Says:

    Thanks for this, David. I found it very helpful. But the whole thing troubles me more now than it did before. An injustice has been done, and it has clear ramifications once the principle of precedent is applied. It may no longer be possible for anyone to achieve success in a case about anti-Semitic hate speech or action (presumably anyone now beating up Jews will be charged, if charged at all, with common assault). Did Ronnie call on Bernard Harrison to present evidence? His clarification of the nature of modern anti-Semitism, which includes anti-Israel speech and imagery, is, I think, quite crucial to an understanding of the dilemma of what constitutes or does not constitute anti-Semitism in the modern era. But no doubt he too would have been accused of blue-and-white-washing.

    • David Fried Says:

      Denis, thanks for this. I’m an American lawyer who has been following this case closely. I’ve been Googling for an hour to see if any non-Jew anywhere in Great Britain has written to criticize the decision of the Employment Tribunal. I have an idea that it actually matters–that if no non-Jews in your country or Ireland and can be troubled to criticize this rulilng, then the worst prognostications about the meaning of this infamous decision are true.. If there are others, I would sincerely appreciate knowing about them.

      I will say, though, without knowing much about the British legal system, that this decision probably has no precedential value in any other court or tribunal. I suspect that your statement that no action concerning anti-Semitism can any longer succeed requires qualification. I assume that physical assaults by right-wingers will be condemned; those by left-wingers and/or Muslims will not. In other words, the Tribunal has held “there is no anti-Semitism on the left.”

      I am particularly depressed, though, by one point. The Tribunal said that Ronnie Fraser, like any political campaigner, has to take his lumps. But how can campaigning against Israel be any part of the legitimate business of the union? The implication is that any organization, no matter what its purpose, can drive out all Jewish participants by engaging in the wholly irrelevant business of israel-bashing. And it is clear that the large majority of UCU members have little or no interest in this particular campaign. They just can’t be bothered to stop it decisively, precisely because it would require a commitment of time and energy to something that is barely their business.

      David Fried, Boston MA.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        It isn’t, of course, part of the “legitimate business of the union”, if only because they cannot point to any overt discrimination in the Israeli education system. Since the foundation of the State of Israel, as we all know, the education system has been open to all citizens. It may be regretted that it is not integrated as between different major religions there, but this is the choice of the Muslim minority. At the same time, we should also note that neither is there integration within the educational system of Northern Ireland, rather closer to home for UCU than the Middle East.

        I would have to say that education, and specifically higher education, elsewhere than in the UK will be part of their business, but to get involved would mean, as implied, a legitimate concern that what there is isn’t equally available to all, and is restricted, quite deliberately, on non-academic grounds. Which isn’r the case here. Nor can they legitimately point to the West Bank, because there is an educational system that is not controlled by Israel (indeed, one of the ironies of the occupation is that until after 1967, there were no universities in the Jordanian controlled West Bank.

        Not that that ever bothered the UCU’s predecessor unions.

  2. Susan Greenberg Says:

    I think the most depressing aspect of the whole story (and the general climate in which claims of antisemitism are received) is the Kafka-esque feeling that no matter what is said’ no matter what subtle caveats are made, no matter how much one tries to meet people halfway – it all meets the same uncomprehending, accusatory, defensive response. A whole new kind of lock-in syndrome.

  3. David Hirsh on the English Academic Anti-Semitism Case | The Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog Says:

    […] decision in the academic anti-Semitism case, Fraser vs. UCU.  Hirsh’s piece was initially posted to the Engage website, which is an important English online journal which opposes the BDS […]

  4. Kibbitzer Says:

    The tribunal has, in effect, legalised antisemitism with the trades union movement by setting this precedent. A cynic might think that the result was a foregone conclusion before proceedings even began given the language used in the verdict.

  5. Brian Robinson Says:

    I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that from the start I didn’t think Ronnie Fraser would win his case (and I’m no lawyer). So as I’m not misunderstood, I don’t for a second doubt the sincerity and integrity of himself, those who gave evidence on his behalf or his counsel. But so much depended on what is meant by the term ‘antisemitism’ (to my mind there’s a comparable problem with the word ‘Islamophobia’).

    I wholly agree with those arguments against BDS put in terms of its selectivity and inconsistency — there’s a case to be answered, and it’s never really been answered as much as it’s been evaded (it’s why after much thought and personal cognitive dissonance I realised I couldn’t support BDS — if I did, I’m not sure where on the planet my boycotting would stop, let alone when). There is much about the manner and tone with which BDS is promoted by its advocates that’s deeply disquieting, and even alarming.

    But what I now find even more worrying are the possible consequences of this case. I really can’t accept the claims of some that we live in a sort of ‘Weimar Britain’, that it’s time to emigrate, that we’re on the brink of a state-sponsored antisemitism, but I think I can understand why a significant number of people now truly believe such sentiments are justified. Some anti-Israel rhetoric is clearly malicious and motivated by racism, some of it is understandably heard as being antisemitic even if it was no more than some comment innocently ambiguous through poor phraseology.

    But it seems to me that there are occasions when ‘A’ says something which ‘B’ hears as something else. ‘B’ isn’t making it up, isn’t feigning or acting in bad faith, he hears what he hears, and is deeply and genuinely distressed, and frightened, as a result. If it is a true misperception, it’s up to ‘A’ to enter into dialogue, to clarify and it’s up to both ‘A’ and ‘B’ to learn from the exchange. But ‘A’ has to be willing and in turn acting in good faith.

    If my own union, the Medical Practitioners’ Union (the health branch of Unite) voted to implement a boycott of Jewish Israeli doctors or health workers, I’d be put on the spot and the cognitive dissonance could be reactivated acutely. But I’d probably write in protest and then resign. I couldn’t imagine taking legal action.

    I do think it was extremely brave of Fraser to bring the case and I think, having followed most of it throughout I understand why he did, but to be honest I really can’t help feeling that it was misconceived — and rather dangerous — to have done so. Anti-Israel campaigners (the sort who will come out on the streets for Palestine but not for the women and girl victims of gender apartheid, not for our gay and intellectually dissident brothers and sisters victimised by theocracy, not against the barbarism of FGM) have now carte blanche to glow with a vindicated triumphalism.

  6. Avi in Jerusalem Says:

    Last week I sent the comment below in an email to Norm and Eva Geras who have been very active too over this whole issue.

    “I have just come across the transcript of the Employment Tribunal tossing out Ronnie Frazer’s claim against the UCU.

    I know that both of you have been closely involved with the case and I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

    I left the UK for Israel in 1978, immediately after finishing University as among other things, I think I sensed that things would only go downhill for the Jews, especially in academia. I was very active in UJS at the time when Jewish societies were being banned under the Zionism = racism -> no platform for racists -> ban the Jews’ organisations campaigns. Our enemies have got more sophisticated since then.

    I am not a lawyer. I have been been following the case from Jerusalem. I think that the nub is in paragraph 150 where they burble on about “Protected characteristics” and how Zionism is not an intrinsic part of Judaism and start warbling on about Jewish race and religion. Based on that, there seems to no case for the UCU to answer.

    I think that the fact that we as Jews do not fit into the simplistic definitions of Western Liberal society is being used as excuse not to support us, when we need the support of the law. This misdefinition seems to be similar to mess caused by the needless wrangling over admission to JFS (my old school). In that case our not not fitting into the rigid slots of legal definitions meant that everyone lost.

    In this case, even though I have only cursorily read through the findings of the commission, I can only ask, what is a normative Jew to do in these circumstances? Who can we turn to when we are victims of antisemtism, as the lawful bodies that society has enacted to protect us are wilfully ignoring our plight?

    Personally I feel attuned to the echoes of history. I am not just referring to the period of the 1930s and 1940s which is bloody obvious, but earlier periods where Jews were ideologically defamed, before things got more physical. I hear echoes of the early Church, of medieval Christian antisemitism in England, Spain, the Rhineland, of the Reformation and it’s leaders, of the founders of the enlightenment in Western Europe, etc etc. First attack and isolate the Jews ideologically and then, if you can, move against them physically. This latest attack seems to have firm roots in the antisemetism and antizionism promoted by the USSR and its friend and enemies on the left. There was very little disagreement about the troublesome Jews.”

    I agree wholeheartedly with David’s analysis too.

  7. Stephen Says:

    Firstly, the tribunal essentially copped out of its responsibility, declaring fairly early into the ruling that’s its job was not to decide what constitutes anti-Semitism. This was, however, precisely their role. The judges simply chose to ignore their responsibility.

    Furthermore, the tribunal displayed a shocking ignorance of Judaism in ruling that an attachment to Israel is not a fundamental aspect of Jewishness. If this is their level of background knowledge then they were simply not competent to judge the case in the first place.

    However, the most shocking aspect of the tribunal’s ruling (assuming I have not misread or misunderstood the ruling) was that even if they had determined the treatment of Ronnie amounted to harassment on the grounds of a protected characteristic. they would still have found against him on the grounds that finding in his favour would breach human rights; specifically freedom of speech and freedom of expression. As I understand it, in the view of a UK court, creating a hostile environment for Jews does not constitute harassment and even if it did, racially harassing Jews is a human right protected by law!

    The ruling is absurd and a travesty. I got the impression from Ronnie’s statement that there will be no appeal, I guess given this ruling it seems futile. However, the Jewish community in Britain should respond to this ruling for what it is; an act of discrimination against Jews. Anti-Semitic stereotypes played a greater role in the deliberations, than the facts brought before the tribunal, this much is clear in their ruling.

    British Jews should, sell-up, pack-up and come home to Israel.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Stephen, your response is, sadly, simplistic. Even assuming I wanted to make aliyah, I’m 68; 2 of my 4 grandsons live here in the UK, and the other 2 in the US. Should I move to Israel, the chances of me seeing them more than once a year are remote. They are precious to me, and at the moment, one set get seen in person 4 times a year, the others nearly every week.

    Secondly, living in a genuine democracy (as is Israel’s political system), I’m buggered if I’m going to let the bastards win by retreating from them. That allows them to say that they were right all along. After all, all three major political parties regularly affirm their anti-racist credentials (including anti-antisemitism in that framework), even if some individuals within them don’t live up to these high standards.

    I am reliably informed that the only grounds for appeal from a Tribunal is on a point of law – that the Tribunal got the law wrong. While Fraser may not have the heart for a further fight (which is a shame, while quite understandable), I would hope that the Jewish community could find the money for an appeal, if he could be persuaded to face the fight again. And, again, if our anti-“Zionist opponents (I’m being polite) do bleat about the “the rich Jews” and/or the Lobby, so what? The only grounds for not going forward are the highly reliable legal antennae of the likes of AnthonyJulius: I doubt that he would have taken the case if he didn’t, honestly, believe that it was winnable.

    Given what I’ve read here and elsewhere (see, for example, the article in Commentary at, I would most be surprised if there were not, in practice, points of law sufficient for an appeal. One comment by a member of the Tribunal panel, appears to express dismay at the quantity of paperwork presented by the plaintiff: one might suggest that this expressed a disincllnation to read at all closely this material, which is what they are appointed to do. To echo David H., this is their job, and (my gloss) not to do so is a dereliction of duty, and thus appealable.

    Further, David H. suggests that they appear to have misinterpreted (or, worse, ignored) important elements of the Equality Act. And I don’t believe that we have been told that the Courts and Tribunals in the UK have disavowed the various Race Relations Acts, with their statements regarding “creed” (and also in places religion) as well as race and sex/gender. Unlike UCU and the Green Party, the legal system has not yet chosen to drop and/or disregard the EU Working Definition on Antisemitism and its implications. Again, I suggest that this may be sufficient grounds for an appeal to the High Court.

    Collectively (a word, I’m sure, beloved of the apparatchiks of the UCU), believers in the UK that human rights extends to all should be able the raise sufficient funds to take this case as far as possible, even to the European Court of Human Rights, and to demonstrate that freedom of speech does not extend to breaking the UK laws on Race and other forms of equality.

    • Stephen Says:

      Brian, I sympathise with your situation, I came back here as a thirty year old, without the responsibility of a wife or children. That said I’m an optimist; you can always try to persuade your kids to schlepp the grandchildren over on a permanent basis! I mean do your kids really want to bring their children up in a country that thinks anti-Semitism is okay so long as you play at dressing it up in the garb of human rights?

      Its all well and good living in a theoretical democracy but the when the law is simply ignored by ignorant and perhaps racist judges, theoretical rights don’t really count for much. When one need only say “Zionist” rather than “Jew” and any suggestion of racism is dismissed (so long as the speaker claims to be from the left of course), I think the time has come to admit that trying to engage in rational discourse with an irrational hatred is simply futile. Lets be honest about something; we didn’t defeat the boycott in the UCU with our powerful arguments. What stopped the UCU in its tracks was a legal opinion that it would be open to legal action, i.e. hit in the pocket, if it proceeded. Perhaps my memory fails me but I don’t remember any politicians of any weight actually condemning the boycott motions for what they were: anti-Semitism. Its all well and good calling them “unhelpful”, “misguided” or “regrettable” but this is not indicative of strong leadership on the subject and we’ve seen from the reactions of all three parties that they don’t pay much more than lip-service to anti-Semitism within their ranks.

      Returning to the specifics of the case, I am not expert enough to know whether the verdict can be appealed on the grounds of law but I hope this is so. I would imagine that par. 150 in determining that attachment to Israel is not an intrinsic part of Jewishness means that the law was simply misapplied due to the utter ignorance of those sitting in judgement, Par 156, also seems to demonstrate an inadequate application of the law, both in terms of equating the fight against anti-Semitism with a voluntary sporting activity and in its assertion that even were the treatment of Ronnie harassment, such harassment would be protected under human rights legislation.

      At the very least, I would like to see a response from the BoD decrying what in essence is a failure of a UK court to apply the statutory legal protections to members of the Jewish community.

      • Brian Robinson Says:

        Stephen, I’ve tried very hard, and in some measure I think succeeded, to understand why a number of people think as you do, and not merely think it but act to leave everything they’ve built and begin again in Israel. I can understand why Zionist Jews, not all of them religious, want to make the spiritual and physical return, and do that in the absence of any sense that they’re under existential threat in the diaspora. I wonder if it might be called something like a positive aliyah?

        I take what you wrote above as to some degree representative of what so many others have written and so I don’t want to personalise what I’m about to say. ‘You’ here is, I hope I’ll make clear, a sort of general ‘you’, or even ‘they’.

        Do you think those of us who continue to live in the UK are about to be herded into death camps and gassed? (For sure you personally probably don’t or you would have said so, but in the writings of at least one very prominent columnist, it’s easy to get the impression that we’re in Weimar Britain and the rest is on its way.)

        So not that, alright. But what? Is there a justified fear that if we don’t nip things in the bud one day we’ll wake to find ourselves in the midst of some rank garden of horrors? (Perhaps there’s a comparison to be made here with those people, often called islamophobes, who constantly warn about their feared ‘Islamisation of Europe’?)

        The oft-quoted truth from my compatriot Conor Cruise O’Brien, “antisemitism is a very light sleeper” comes to mind, and events in the wide world often remind us just how easily it’s woken. So I’m not complacent, or I hope I’m not.

        But as I look around Britain for incipient signs of an institutionalised, state-sponsored, malignant, genocidal antisemitism, I just don’t see it. Sure, there’s some low-level, chronic, grumbling — another O’Brien coinage here — anti-Jewism (an ugly word, he wrote, for an ugly thing), but you combat it, as people working in Engage combat it, you expose it, flush it out, fight it in all the peaceful ways open to a secular, liberal democracy.

        But to give in to it? To let wickedness win? That’s what I’m tempted to call negative aliyah. We’d be agreeing with the antisemites that we can’t live in our own countries, correction, worse, in “their” countries.

        You have to watch it, of course — the price of freedom being eternal vigilance, as ever. But time to pack up and leave? I can see why some may think so, but I believe they’re mistaken.

        • Stephen Says:

          Hey Brian,

          I’ll let you in on a secret (and anyone else here reading I guess), I’ve intended to make aliyah since I was a teenager, only my marriage delayed me by ten years. Once I parted ways with my now ex-wife, I had no reason not to go ahead- the unpleasant revival of the kind of discourse seen in the 1970’s was coincidental. I’m a Zionist so from my perspective any time a Jew wants to return to their homeland is a good time.

          As for your other points; I don’t think anyone is firing up the ovens as of now but I can see the resurgence of state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the not too distant future. I find this ruling very disturbing because where previously the bar for anti-Semitism was placed higher that that of other racisms only in terms of discourse, this has now weeded its way into the legal system. There is a precedent that in effect says Jews try to silence criticism of Israel by dishonestly raising the issue of anti-Semitism. The last time I checked the judiciary were an organ of the state, so its as close to state-sponsored as one can get, without it being official government policy. In any case I don’t think it is genocidal anti-Semitism that is the problem but rather the low level racism which Jews have been subjected to over the centuries; being scorned, seen as objects of revulsion, morally deficient, etc.

          I don’t disagree with fighting anti-Semitism but have come to the conclusion that its a fairly futile exercise. I’ve seen first-hand in the UCU just how irrational anti-Semitism is. If the intellectual elite (I know that I’m stretching things by applying that to the UCU membership as a whole, much less to congress) , those who consider themselves to be anti-racists can embrace the illogical nonsense that is anti-Semitism, why not everyone else?

        • zkharya Says:

          Hear, hear, and appreciated the O’Brien quotation.

  9. Susan Greenberg Says:

    Before we all go too far down that road, I have to say that basing the argument about anti-semitism on the link between Jewishness and Israel is NOT the right way to go, in my humble opinion. I think that a) it is not necessary for a strong case, b) it doesn’t reflect the reality of all Jews, or people who oppose anti-semitism, and c) the case should on principle be framed in a way that will help public debate in the widest possible range of circumstances.

    One of the main problems in attitudes, as far as I can see, is that the linkage between Israel and Jewishness is being made (negatively and constantly) by the anti-zionist camp. So, even if a debate starts without any reference to Israel, it is the anti-zionist who brings it up, gratuitously. I am thinking of Michael White’s tweet to Daniel Finkelstein in the Lord Ahmed story, among many other examples.

    So why would it be helpful to fight that lazy slippage, by making the connection just as constant but saying it’s a POSITIVE not negative one? It doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

    • Sarka Says:

      I see your point, but the antizionist antisemites have people in a cleft stick here. To try to tactically ignore the real connection between Jewishness and Israel when trying to expose the attitudes of some of the antizionists is to play to one implicit line in their argument, which might be put crudely as, “We have nothing against Jews so long as they don’t defend Israel, and – ideally renounce/denounce any connection with it”, and might be put even more crudely as, “We shall only be antisemitic if you insist on not renouncing connection to Israel”! As you say, they are certainly initiative-takers when it comes to bringing Israel up implicitly or explicitly in contexts relatively remote from the subject but they can almost always retreat, when challenged, to their insistence on the absolute lack of intrinsic connection between Jews and Zionists. I’d be interested to know what “strong case” you think can be made that gets over this problem.

      • Susan Greenberg Says:

        I agree that it’s a real conundrum. I feel a little frustrated because I would like more time to think it all through, but I have a big and long work deadline hanging over my life right now and so I feel guilty even reading these posts! So anything I say now will probably be found wanting. Many apologies!

        The case I would like to make is that antisemitism of all kinds, including the new version, is bad not just for Jews but for everyone, and to find good ways of explaining that, and bringing in as many people as possible in alliance, and to take the initiative somehow in having that conversation in as many situations as possible. I am not deluded that it would be easy but I think there is still scope for that, and for winning a wide range of allies, if it was done with the right tone etc.

        I agree that in practice, it has become impossible to sidestep the linkage with Israel because it is foisted on us. And there is no perfect response to that. At one point, I found myself thinking, perhaps David Hirsh could help produce some flash cards that we can download and use when we are caught in a situation?

  10. Fabián Glagovsky Says:

    To Ronny Fraser: leave that antisemitic country and come to live with us. You have experienced antisemitism. Your children don’t have to.
    בשנה הבא בירושלים, בסדר?

  11. Paul Spicker Says:

    The Tribunal largely assumed that the dispute was about the UCU’s policy on Israel. I didn’t resign from UCU because of its position on Israel, which it’s had for years; I resigned because of their motion in defence of antisemitism. So I looked with particular interest at the very short sections in the judgement where UCU policy on antisemitism was referred to, in paragraphs 52, 74, 134-137 and 166. The Tribunal’s basis for rejecting the charge that this motion was racist were that

    – the motion was democratically and legitimately arrived at, and
    – the respondents (the Union) could not be held responsible for the decisions of Congress which bound it. “The ‘unwanted’ conduct was that of the members who proposed and supported the motion and Congress as a whole which passed it. … no claim lies against the Respondents in respect of these actions.”

    The first part is wrong morally. Majority rule and constituted authority is not sufficient justification for racist action. The second part seems to me to be wrong in law. The Tribunal basically says that the Union as the respondent is not responsible for the decision of its Congress. The union is a person in law, and any decision of Congress that is either binding or adopted is the decision, collectively, of the Union.

  12. Andy Gill Says:


    Please leave the UCU and urge all your Jewish colleagues to do the same. It is beyond question institutionally anti-Semitic.

  13. Brian Robinson Says:

    @Andy Gill But suppose the non Jewish members of UCU said to the Jewish members, “You people, take yourselves off, we don’t want you in our union”. How would that be different from Jewish members of the union saying, “Best take ourselves out of here” (however much the motivation for saying so would be the former’s polar opposite)? Why not stay and (to paraphrase Hugh Gaitskell) fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the union you love (or restore the one that lost itself)?

    Although the UCU won in law, actually nobody has really won seems to me the outcome of this case. A sort of interrogative shadow may haunt the union’s reputation, an aggrieved sense of something unresolved just as the precise understanding of what constitutes antisemitism itself seems unresolved, or insufficiently examined.

    We can all have our personal constructs as to antisemitism, and for some time to come it looks likely that the phrase, University and College Union, will bring a lot of baggage with it.

    • Lamia Says:


      “But suppose the non Jewish members of UCU said to the Jewish members, “You people, take yourselves off, we don’t want you in our union””

      That is, in effect, exactly what they have done.

      Now Jewish academics and their allies have the choice of staying – and conferring some spurious credibility on UCU – or of walking away from it and stripping it of that figleaf.

      I have the greatest respect and admiration for those who have fought this fight, but the UCU is now past redemption. And remember only a tiny minority of about 120,000 members have fought this – you have to accept that the overwhelming majority of the UCU membership are willing members of a vile antisemitic organisation. I would personally leave, were I a member, and I urge any decent person still in the UCU to leave now. Hereafter if people wrinkle their nose on finding you are still a member of the UCU, then that will have been your own choice. Those of you remaining are not just willing to sign your own death warrants, you’re volunteering to type them out.

      Part of the problem is that many of you are form the left and can’t bring yourself to face the ugly fact that the dear old left and leftish institutions are today the main breeding ground for antisemitism and a number of other very nasty reactionary positions. You are all trying to cure a fever victim with water from the swamp. I understood that some years back when I washed my hands of the Labour Party.

      As a former university teacher and a non-Jew I’m appalled by this shameful trend in our universities and frankly have very little sympathy now for those left in the profession. I manage to conduct my life while not belonging to any antisemitic organisations – why the hell can’t our academics manage it?

      If any of that offends some of the academics reading this thread, too bad; your profession deserves contempt. And you won’t change that situation from inside the UCU.

      • Absolute Observer Says:

        I think that the framing of the question is a bit of a misnomer.
        As far as am aware there are many ‘non-Jews’ who are aware of the antisemitism in the UCU as well as the fact that there are a few Jews in ucu who are blind to it.
        To talk of Jews v non-Jews is to give antisemitism a legitimacy it does not deserve and fails to challenge the mythical distinctions it seeks to make a reality. Although it will impact mostly on Jews, it is more a conflict of racists v anti-racists.

        • Lamia Says:

          Well I am sorry if you think I was trying to frame this in terms of Jew versus non-jew. I didn’t intend that and I don’t mean that. This is indeed about those who oppose antisemitism and those who tolerate or accommodate or engage in it.

          But my main point stands – I greatly admire – and thank – Ronnie Fraser and those who have fought on his side, but at this stage staying in the UCU would be a fatal mistake, however well-intended. Leave the sewer to those who like bathing in sewage.

  14. zkharya Says:

    Very much appreciate your detailed analysis and account of what happened, David. I now see I may have been too dismissive of the merits of the case, largely based on some hotheads’ misrepresenting of it (supportively, as they saw it). As David Aaronovitch says, some people have a tin ear when it comes to antisemitic tenor and nuance.

    I also suspect what Brian says is true, that this may not leave UCU as clean as some fear.

  15. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Re Stephen, above, at April 3, 7.26 pm, where he says “but I can see the resurgence of state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the not too distant future.” Oh, come now (sorry for the force of that, it’s not personal, but generic): the next government in this country, post-2015, is going to be one of the following: (a) a majority Conservative one; (b) a continuation of the Con-LibDem coalition; (c) a Labour-LibDem coalition; or (d) a majority Labour one.

    The electoral system, especially given the (at least) postponement of the gerrymandering “equal electorate” constituencies re-organisation, means that other possibilities are so remote as to be ignorable.

    So, now what, Stephen? I can see a resurgence of antisemitism, but hardly state-sponsored. The Tories aren’t going to: too many important Conservative Jewish donors and MPs. The Lib-Dems aren’t going to: they are, basically, Liberals, after all. And the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs are, and will remain, anti-racist and include antisemitism in their definition of racism. If you think UKIP are going to be a serious force in the Commons, then, to be polite about it, I think you are seriously mistaken. And I doubt that anyone thinks that the far right are going to get representation in Parliament.

    So, that leaves the SWP and its far left allies. They haven’t (if we include Communists in this) had a member of Parliament or come close to one since 1950, when the last two (of 4, ever) Communist MPs were defeated.

    I think that the far left, despite their influence on left-liberal innocents, are a joke. If they think that they’ve really won, then organisations like UCU are going to overreach themselves and crash to earth. I hope they don’t, for the sake of the vast majority who need a union to protect them, but the risk is there. I believe that the real risk comes from the (relatively few) Islamists and Jihadists in the UK population, if only because successive UK governments have refused to engage with those who prefer to accommodate with British society and rather dealt with the loudest groups.

    Now there’s a challenge!

    • Brian Robinson Says:

      I warm to this analysis very much, Brian G, and I agree, so let me be a devil and paint a really gloomy picture of at least England in the next few years (if only to reassure ourselves that it was all a trick of the light). The destruction of the NHS has begun to bite, more of the sick poor can’t get treatment, more disabled people can’t meet their bills, inequality has increased, crime rates have gone up again and the streets are unsafe. The dispossessed grow restive and angry and need a scapegoat. Will they turn on eastern European immigrants, immigrants from the Indian subcontinent? Or the one that’s stood the test of time, the one that can easily be woken from its “light sleep”? Hastily switching on the light, phew, sorry it really was nothing but a magic shadow-show!

  16. The Anti-Semitism of the UCU | Anne's Opinions Says:

    […] David Hirsh at Engage (h/t CiFWatch) wrote an excellent piece about the UCU tribunal. Here are a few highlights but read it all: […]

  17. Kibbitzer Says:

    It’s untrue to say that Britain is an antisemitic country insofar as the government does not promote it and passes laws which prohibit it (the judiciary is independent of government control, as it should be). However it’s impossible to legislate against ingrained prejudice against Jews and this pervades the whole country in both the ‘yobbish’ and the ‘snobbish’ varieties and is found in every strata of British society.

    I made aliyah three years ago for positive reasons mainly, but in truth, also to escape the all-too-often unpleasant incident from the mildly off-colour remark about ‘Jew Boys’ to being told by a seemingly respectable ‘gentleman’ accompanied by his wife to ‘get back to Israel, you dirty Jew.’ The irony, of course, is that the other type of antisemite says ‘get out of Palestine, you dirty Jew’. After much anger, I decided that he was right, that is indeed what I should do and so I did.

  18. Lynne T Says:

    Does it come as that much of a surprise that a tribunal, which presumably was appointed by the UCU executive would make such a finding?

    My question is what are the next steps for Fraser and others … an internal appeal of the tribunal’s findings or on to the British equivalent of the human rights tribunals we have in Canada, where Fraser is likelier to get a fair hearing (the sort of situation the UCU was forwarned of with respect to the academic boycott)?

    • David Hirsh Says:

      No Lynne, you’ve got this wrong. The Employment Tribunal is an official court of law in the UK. This was where Fraser thought he was likely to get a fair, external hearing.

      • James Mendelsohn Says:

        And it is precisely that it is an official court of law that the ruling is so troubling, particularly in view of the English system of precedent.

    • Absolute Observer Says:

      Was it not the case that Ronnie Fraser was found to have breached human rights by complaining about antisemitism in the first place; that in claiming he was subject to antisemitism he was ‘really’ trying to silence ‘debate’ about Israel and Palestine and so ‘really’ denying the freedom of expression of others?
      If this is correct, and perhaps someone can tell me if it is, it is a rather harsh assessment of someone claiming harassment; a bit like a woman claiming sexual harassment is ‘really’ trying to get back at a particular man, and so ‘really’ interfering with his freedoms and rights? A kind of inversion between victim and abuser?

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        I come back to a point I’ve made here and elsewhere: the failure to take a complainant’s claims and evidence seriously, even if thereafter rejected, is a failure of the system and thus grounds for appeal. I’ve also noted that the EU Draft Definition on Antisemitism puts the burden of claiming antisemitism on the “victim”. The Tribunal/Court’s role is to agree or disagree, not make the claim for the complainant.

        This is also the basis of UK anti-discrimination/Race Relations law: it is for the alleged victim to make the claim and for the court to agree.disagree, not tell them they are vexatious and don’t know what happened to them. I deliberately allow for the complainant to be female or of an ethnic minority.

        Anyone but a Jew would hardly have received this treatment. And this is a worrying indictment of some parts of our legal system.

        A.O., legally, of course you’re wrong, but in practical political and moral terms, you’re absolutely right.

  19. tonyk Says:

    The language of the Tribunal’s verdict was surprising though its verdict less so given the track record for this issue in UK. Let’s note the wholesale dismissal of the claims of the complainant and his witnesses, along with none too subtle character assassinations, and 100% validation of all the Union’s defence positions & witnesses by the learned judges. Yes! this appears to be classic case of “snobbish” (as opposed to “yobbish”) covert antisemitism and anti-Jewish tropes creeping in to the language of the Tribunal. If was done deliberately is worrying; if undeliberately, even more so. Equally concerning is the Tribunal’s refusal to consider definitions of Jewishness and Jewish belonging as defined and experienced by Jews. Are we now to be “defined” by others – incl by our enemies. I for one would not care for my Jewishness in all its complexity and occasional ambivalence to be defined by these learned men of law. The law here in the UK continues to fail us misearbly in a manner unthinkable were it British Asians, Blacks, Gays or Muslims standing in our place.

    • Lev Bronstein Says:

      Good point about the “snobbish” and covert antisemitism, oh so subtle and of course impossible to prove! The bias is quite evident though. The Human Rights argument about freedom of expression I presume was made by the UCU and argued strongly by the tribunal, but what of the claimant’s right to a fair trial another equally important human right? That was conveniently ignored in this case.
      This was more about pragmatically bringing closure to a dispute as quickly and economically as possible; this is what the tribunal system is designed for anyway let’s be honest. I suspect also a lack of willingness to give statutory interpretation to the phrase ‘antisemitism’ beyond its tenuous definition in the EUMC working definition. It’s worth noting though that Jews are regarded as an ethnic group in English law entirely because of case law established in the House of Lords on appeal from the lower courts. See for example the following case Mandla and another v Dowell Lee and another :

  20. Absolute Observer Says:

    Perhaps the comment from ‘IV, 1, 2343’ is more appropriate in this thread?

    ‘I am content’

    Just a thought………

  21. Absolute Observer Says:

    I had to laugh at this.
    In a commentary on the Fraser case, Mike Cushman of BRICUP and UCU comes up with this gem,
    ‘Hirsh and Susskind et al fail to grasp at least two very basic points. They solipsistically believe it is all about the Jews; they cannot understand or believe that it is about the Palestinians.’
    Well, assuming that is true even for a moment, it may be worth noting just how much Cushman avoids or rather falls victim to his own accusation.
    Well, here is Cushman posting an article about how’“Zionist” influence begins by listing the number of “Jews” who sit in the British Houses of Parliament and which goes on to construct a story to demonstrate how Tony Blair required Jewish “Zionist” money to run the New Labour project after he had cut Labour’s reliance on trade union funding.
    And here is Cushman again who came up with the following stereotype about Jews and their relationship to universities:
    “Universities are to Israel what the springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.”
    Oh and Cushman is the man who leapt to the defence of the UCU member who advised union colleagues to read a piece of conspiracy theory on former KKK leader David Duke’s website.
    There is also a youtube clip of Cushman rubbing his hands with glee spouting on about how upset people will be when they open their Jewish Chronicle.

    Phew, one only imagine what Cushman would have said had he believed after all that it is ‘about Jews’ but not about the Palestinians!

  22. Absolute Observer Says:

    And here is David Ward not saying it is ‘about Jews’.
    And here is Iain Banks saying it is not ‘about Jews’
    And here is Jacqueline Rose not saying it is ‘about Jews’,
    And here is Hamas not saying it is ‘about Jews’,
    And again,
    And here is Caryl Churchill saying it is not about Jews,

    I doubt this list is exhaustive.

  23. Judy Weleminsky Says:

    I am continuing with this ‘old’ discussion as the case is back in the news because of the costs campaign. I think an important issue which needs to be established in relation to anti racism and anti discrimination law is whether the different subsets/groups of religions can be recognised and need protection for each religious viewpoint so long as within the law of the land?

    On this basis it could be validly argued that there are three groups of Jews who overtly claim to be Jewish and differ in respect of their religious or racial/ethnic perspective to Israel. There are ultra religious, somewhat religious and non religious Jews who are strongly anti-Zionist. There are ultra religious, religious and non religious Jews who are strongly pro Zionist and see this as an integral part of their Jewish identity and Jewish religion. And there are the confused horde who want Israel to continue to exist but don’t want to put their heads above the parapet and have some criticisms of Israel which they think validates their ambivalent stance.

    The pro Zionist Jews are the ones who feel the anti Semitism of the UCU stance and I include myself in this group (though not a member of UCU). Some discomfort is also felt by the ‘confused horde’ but it is the pro Zionist Jews who want Israel to continue to exist, to be criticised fairly in the court of world opinion, and who see this as integral to our religious and ethnic identity and feel very threatened by the actions and atmosphere of the UCU and the oblivion to the point of blindness of the Tribunal. We are the group which are suffering (now) and our antennae are quivering as to where this is headed.

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of Jews in this country fit into each of the above categories. Has this been surveyed? My guess is that the first category is about 10% of which the leftist activists are no more than 5% but they have a mega share of the air space and their stance makes them feel oh so self righteous and advances their careers and they have little or no care for their fellow Jews.

    Of the remaining 90% perhaps the split is 50/50? But when push comes to shove we will all be together because we are all targeted. But even if we are only 45% of Jews who feel actively discriminated against by the kind of behaviour of the UCU and its endorsement by the Tribunal, nonetheless surely we are significant enough a group to have our minority rights protected?

    It may be that as some commentators above have said the we ought to be looking at our aliyah options now. Certainly it is disturbing just how much more prominent this thought has become over the last 18 months since the comments in the thread above. The French Jews are starting to pack their bags and anxiety here is on the rise.

    My feeling is that we live in two alternate realities. If you follow these issues closely as I do then the worrying signs are seriously on the increase and it is possible to speculate that the otherwise normal and calm waters of our usual existence are in danger of falling apart. Yet the normal reality of happy participation in British life continues in most spheres. It is still possible even to keep your head down at University and get on with your studies without being affected by the nasty stuff.

    So before we pack our bags, I think we need to stand up and fight for our identity as pro Israel Jews. I have started getting active in South London where we have been holding Pro Israel, Pro Palestinian, Pro Peace stalls and giving out literature about Israel to ordinary South Londoners. And we have been getting a very positive reaction! Most people know almost nothing and many are interested to be given Israel literature and comment with pleasure that it is good to see the other side getting out and about!

    Check us out here

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