SWP forget about antisemitism. Again. Whoops.

Unite Against Fascism Islamophobia and Antisemitism. From ModernityBlog.

But this isn’t the first time the SWP have forgotten about antisemitism.   Remember this, when they forgot the Jews had been victims of the Holocaust?

What is going on?


Israel boycott again on agenda in UK

Dr. David Hirsh of Engage, a group of academics and trade unionists who campaign against the boycott call, came out strongly against the UCU’s move.

“Annually, the boycotters propose to exclude Israelis from the global academic, economic, artistic and sporting community as though Israel was unique on the planet and as though it was normal to punish ordinary working people for the actions of their government,” said Hirsh. “The UCU leadership does nothing about the boycott or about the Palestinians, but continues to allow anti-Semitic ways of thinking to pollute the union and to degrade our solidarity.”

Read the whole article by Jonny Paul here.

Boycott motions for forthcoming UCU Congress

SFC14 Practical support for Palestinian academic trade unionists, National executive committee

Congress condemns the failure of the international community to confront the Israeli government over the humanitarian disaster it is continuing to perpetrate in Gaza and the continued development of illegal settlements in the West Bank.


· Welcomes the decisions of the 2009 TUC Congress relating to Palestine and Israel, and instructs the NEC to work with the TUC, STUC, and other affiliates, Amnesty International and PSC, to put the recommendations into effect.

· Welcomes the Education International-Canadian Association of University Teachers report on academic freedom in Palestine and Israel, and the new impetus it provides for work on this area in EI.

· Calls on the NEC to work with Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, as well as EI, CAUT and other supportive EI affiliates, to build PFUUPE’s organisational and negotiating capacity within Palestine, according to the needs PFUUPE identifies, and to support its membership of EI and enable it to participate fully in EI’s work.

SFC15 Palestine solidarity, BDS, and Histadrut, University of Brighton Grand Parade

Congress notes the successful international BDS conference hosted by the UCU in line with Congress policy;

The statement that emerged from that conference and the call from the Palestinian Boycott National Committee for an isolation of Israel while it continues to act in breach of international law.

Congress resolves:

· To reaffirm its support for BDS, and to seek its implementation within the constraints of the existing law;

· To seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law, with appropriate cost sharing;

· To sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise;

· To campaign actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and to coordinate that campaign with other trade unions and solidarity movements.

SFC16 Ariel and West Bank Colonisation, University of Brighton Falmer

Congress notes

The continuing colonisation of the West Bank – construction of illegal settlements, Israeli-only roads, diversion of Palestinian water, disaggregation of the territory, disruption of Palestinian life, destruction of olive groves and separation of Palestinian cultivators from their land, denial of educational and scholarly opportunities to Palestinians, and the continuing construction of the wall;

The contribution of Israel’s academy in this process – scientific and social and historical research, sitting of annexes on illegally confiscated land, and support for military occupation;

The particular contribution of Ariel College in this process – recruiting Israelis as settlers for their education – and the recent decision of Israel to recognise Ariel as a ‘university centre’, on the way to its establishment as a university on occupied territory.

Congress resolves to commence the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College.

How easily anti-Zionism slid into antisemitism

This short piece by David Osler is interesting – I wish it was longer and I’d urge commenters not to demand too much of a piece this brief.

These days he aligns his support of secular democracy with being “on balance an anti-Zionist”, though he doesn’t believe that Zionism is necessarily racist. But in the ’80s, while he was in the IMG, he helped kicked the Jewish Society out of his university. This is how easily anti-Zionism slid into antisemitism:

“My attitude had very much been shaped by the war in Lebanon three years earlier, especially the Sabra and Shatila massacre. So I saw things in black and white.

Zionism, I then believed, was a form of racism. Self-evidently, no student union should permit a racist student group to function under its auspices. Ipso facto, City Poly JSoc had to go.”

He now regrets his part in this as a “gross mistake” while noting that higher up the food chain of his movement there may have been a coordinated hostility to Jewish Societies.

No less problematic an ideology than Zionism is held to be, almost everything about contemporary anti-Zionism needs examining along with the Zionism anti-Zionists confront us with. We should insist.

For anybody in the Manchester area.

Opponents of the boycott may like to know that Bricup will be holding the following meeting in Manchester.

Monday 7th December, 7pm
Lecture Theatre A, University Place,
University of Manchester, Oxford Road.


Ronnie Kasrils
former minister in Nelson Mandela’s ANC government and
anti-Apartheid activist

Bongani Masuku (International Secretary) / George Mahlangu
 (Campaigns Coordinator) Cosatu – the South African trade union federation

Omar Barghouti
Palestinian Campaign for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Chair: Tom Hickey
National Executive Committee of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) and BRICUP

Jon Pike, elected opponent of the boycott on UCU Executive, resigns

Jon Pike to Sally Hunt, General Secretary of UCU

Open Letter from Jon Pike to Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the UCU

Dear Sally,

UCU Congress last week adopted resolutions in support of an academic boycott against Israel.  As you know very well, the adoption of that resolution is in defiance of the considered majority view of the membership of the union. Whether or not such resolutions can be implemented, or have been declared void, their adoption is a violation of the democratic principle that the union ought to represent its membership.

It will be said that the UCU, on behalf of its membership, and on behalf of the academic community in Britain, would wish to push for an academic boycott of Israel, but is prevented from doing so by legal means.

This claim is entirely false. The members have not supported such a proposal, and they have not been asked their views.

Both Congress in 2008 and 2009, and a senior committee of the union have rejected calls for a ballot of the membership.  An amendment from my branch, to this year’s conference, calling for a ballot of the membership on this proposal was ruled out as a ‘wrecking amendment.’  It seems there is something incendiary about asking the members directly to express their views.  The call for a ballot has been rejected in the knowledge that, and because, such a ballot would lead to the overwhelming defeat of the boycott proposals.

When proposals for boycott of Israeli universities have been considered by branches of the union and its predecessors, they have been overwhelmingly rejected. Members at Reading, Open, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, Bath, Warwick, UCL, Strathclyde, Lancaster, Kingston, LSE, KCL, Birmingham, Bristol, UEA, Sussex, Cardiff, LSHTM, The Institute of Education, QMWL, Aberystwyth, Swansea, Southampton, and others, have voted, at branch meetings, to reject such proposals. Previous similar proposals have been repudiated by individual branches, and overwhelmingly rejected by branch ballots of their membership.

The resolutions in question have been rushed through, in a way that has actively prevented the membership from scrutinising them.  Papers concerning the resolution have been distributed extremely late, with no explanation.  Legal advice, paid for by the members concerning the resolution has been withheld from elected representatives, branch presidents, and the membership.

The leadership of the union, and its Congress, which are both controlled by the Socialist Workers’ Party, has exhibited contempt for the views of its members on this matter, and on others, such as the crazy decision to ballot for industrial action, and the dishonest cover up by the SWP that has followed the aborting of this ballot.

In National Executive elections, less than ten percent of the membership now vote.  The NEC cannot be said properly to represent either the membership of the union, or the academic community in Britain.

If the union was a democratic space, in which the majority of the membership was able to determine policy, then there would be a case for remaining active in the union, and working for a change of policy. In its predecessor union, democratic mechanisms were available which allowed the overturning of a similar policy on April 26th 2005.

But the UCU does not provide such a democratic space, and the procedures available in the AUT were removed at the time of merger.

The UCU cannot be considered a democratic union, representative of its members.

This has the following consequences:

We have a union that is able to send its President on trips to the Caribbean, at the members’ expense, to “celebrate the Cuban revolution” but that is unable to organise a legal ballot on industrial action in defence of jobs.

We have a union that has produced misleading and dishonest statements to the membership, on matters of fact, about both the ballot for industrial action, and about its policy on Israel and Palestine, and in which opponents of such a policy are subject to threats of legal action, smears, personal attack, and exclusions.

We have a union that has consciously abandoned its role of representing academics professionally.

We have a union that has brought academics in Britain into disrepute, by its willingness to countenance and support violations of the Principle of Universality of Science and Learning, and by condoning and supporting attacks on academic freedom, such as the outrageous and discriminatory actions of Professor Mona Baker in dismissing two Israeli members of her editorial board.

We have a union that, since merger, has allowed the systematic distortion and violation of democratic norms.  This works through a complex system of reserved seats, fractional branches and unaccountable, unrepresentative ‘regional committees’ each of which helps to entrench an anti-democratic system of double counting into its decision-making.  All of this has been done in violation of the agreements made at merger.   The merger has been a disaster for academic trade unionism in Britain.

We have a union that has allowed the distribution of antisemitic material on its internal lists, and the peddling of antisemitic conspiracy theories by some of its members, whilst banning anti-racist and Jewish members who have objected to such material.

We have a union from which hundreds of members – many of them Jewish – have resigned in protest at the unwarranted exceptionalism of its attitude to Israel.  I believe that many more will do so.

We have a union that entirely refuses to investigate concern about institutional antisemitism when raised through the proper channels, by members. The UCU is now the most complacent public institution in Britain with respect to the current rise in antisemitism.

Members of the UCU will ignore the decisions of its Congress, and continue to engage in academic collaboration and research with Israeli and Palestinian colleagues, and Israeli and Palestinian Universities, and they will be right to do so.

Academics in Britain, will, of course, ignore the UCU’s policy on this matter, and they will, of course, be right to do so.

It would be good if academics had a democratic, effective, professional and serious union to represent them in negotiating with the employers and in protecting their terms and conditions of employment.

That is, sadly, no longer the case.

I therefore resign my seat on the NEC.

Dr Jon Pike

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

The Open University

Formerly Nationally elected member NEC (Pre-92)
The Jewish Chronicle report of Jon’s resignation is here.

UCL UCU branch secretary Sean Wallis lines up with antisemitic Lehman Brothers conspiracy theorists

Sean Wallis, UCL UCU Branch Secretary

Sean Wallis, UCL UCU Branch Secretary

The campaign to exclude people who work at Israeli universities – and only them –  from the global academic community is being pushed hard this week, for the 7th year running, by a small coterie of antizionists in the University and College Union.

One thing we have learnt in that five years is that whenever this campaign is pushed, antisemitic rhetoric, tropes, images and jokes are not far behind.

The following comes from Arieh Kovler of the Fair Play Campaign from UCU Congress in Bournemouth:

BRICUP, the British organisation behind the boycott of Israeli academics, held a fringe meeting at UCU Congress yesterday in Bournemouth.

The official speakers took up most of the time, but there was time for a few questions from the audience. Of course, these ‘questions’ were really statements from the various pro-boycott attendees.

One of these was Sean Wallis, UCL UCU branch secretary. He wanted to speak about how UCU should debate a boycott whether it’s legal or not. One of the threats he mentioned was from lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.

The remark elicited a few sniggers, though not the outright laughter of an earlier joke by Haim Bresheeth about Israeli friendly fire casualties.

Now, a popular conspiracy theory circulating online claims that Jews transferred $400 billion out of Lehman Brothers to untraceable bank accounts in Israel, a couple of days before Lehman filed for bankruptcy. This lie first appeared on a website run by the Barnes Review, an American ‘revisionist’ organisation with a particular interest in Holocaust denial, and spread on various right-wing anti-Zionist websites.

It is not entirely obvious what Mr Wallis is referring to by claiming that legal threats against UCU are funded by “bank balances from Lehmann Brothers that can’t be tracked down.” Perhaps he could clarify his remarks.

Update – see Harry’s Place for Sean Wallis’ non-refuting denial.

Update 2 – more from Harry’s Place, further to correspondence with Sean Wallis. Sean Wallis “doesn’t seem to appreciate that antisemitic theories are antisemitic because they spread poisonous lies about Jews, not because they’re authored by “a racist right winger”.”

There was not due to be any debate on any other international issue at this Congress – only debate about the exclusion of Israelis and a one-sided and ahistorical discussion of Palestine.  The NEC slipped in a last minute emergency motion relating to Colombia so that the union could not be accused of singling out Israel.

There is nothing on Sri Lanka.

There is nothing on Darfur.

There is nothing on Iraq.

There is nothing on Afghanistan.

There is nothing on Zimbabwe.

There is nothing on Russia.

There is nothing on China.

The only boycott campaigned for is a boycott of Israelis.

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