General Antisemitism

Antisemitism at the UCU: David Hirsh responds to Tribunal ruling against Fraser


On March 29 we commented on a ruling by London’s Central Employment Tribunal which rejected Ronnie Fraser’s charge of  institutional antisemitism against the University and College Union (UCU).  

Fraser had charged the UCU with fostering an atmosphere of antisemitism which created an ‘intimidating’, ‘hostile’, ‘humiliating’, and ‘offensive’ work environment’ for Jews – citing, in part, the union’s decision to reject the EU Working Definition of Antisemitism on the grounds that it had the effect of ‘silencing debate on Israel’.

The EU working definition (as it pertains to Israel and Zionism) characterizes the following as antisemitic: denying the Jewish state the right to exist, applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not demanded of any other democratic nation, using the symbols associated with classic antisemitism (such as blood libels) to characterize Israel or Israelis, holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel, and drawing comparisons of Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

UCU motion rejecting EU Working Definition of Antisemitism

UCU motion rejecting EU Working Definition of Antisemitism

Further, as David Hirsh detailed in a superb post at Engage yesterday, in addition to the UCU’s rejection of the EU working definition, there were a number of other incidents representing a culture whereby “antisemitism was accepted as normal within the union” – many of which Hirsh outlined:

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 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 faithThey 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.

Astonishingly, not only did the Tribunal rule that these incidents did not represent antisemitism, but, in a close approximation of the Livingstone Formulation, outrageously accused Fraser and his 34 witnesses of trying to ‘intimidate’ and ‘silence’ critics of Israel with an invented accusation of antisemitism.

May the examples cited above, of the undeniable racism suffered by Jewish members of the UCU, serve to shame those who have been critical of Fraser and his supporters – some of whom have even suggested that the UK Jewish community should never have taken on the fight in the first place.

Fraser, and those who had his back, should be admired for acting on principle, morality, and justice – and continue to deserve our unqualified support. 

You can read the rest of Hirsh’s masterful response to the Tribunal’s outrageous ruling here.

49 replies »

  1. British Justice stood up against intimidation for once – this is a reflection of the changing environment that refuses to be bullied or silenced in the face of prolonged occupation. Racism has either to be opposed in its entirety not just anti-Semitic racism also racism against the Arabs. When laws that are discriminatory are opposed and those implementing them are exposed that is not racism. That is anti-Racism at its best. Racists are only trying to muddy the water. Nobody argued that boycotting Apartheid South Africa was racism against the Whites. Opposing the racist policies of the State of Israel is not Antisemitism it is in fact anti-racism that encompasses opposition to Antisemitism .

    • OK, if an Arab is antisemitic (and we are told that most of the Arab world is, because it’s an introjected belief), and we point this out, how is this racist, rather than an attempt on your part to shut down debate?

      Can you give me a list of Arab leaders who have unequivocally supported Israel’s right to exist in peace?

    • Hunt, you live in a world of institutional anti-Semitism; your culture, values and morality are moulded by it. That you find your hostility to Jews and their projects (national or otherwise) to be normal behaviour, is no surpise to us. You belong in the dustbin of history. File under: Sanctimonious Europeans and their 2000-year-old racist obsession with the Jews.

    • “Nobody argued that boycotting Apartheid South Africa was racism against the Whites.”

      No white British or French or Americans or Hungarians (as far as I am aware) were subjected to abuse, marginalisation and racist slurs in Britain because of the behaviour of the white South African government.

      This is what you and the UCU and, it seems, the Tribunal, simply don’t get. Debate Israel and oppose the “racist policies” of its government all you like. I am sure you will find no shortage of people happy to argue with you on the issues. But as soon as that spills over into blatant Jew-hatred of the kind detailed by Hirsh and Fraser, that is no longer “anti-racist”, that is McCarthyism, outright racism, undisguised and unrepentant.

    • What do you know about Israel and racism? ever been there you pompous windbag puffed up with your own preferment.

    • Welcome to the snake-pit Jeremy!
      The trolls usually only come out at night! But,if it’s undiluted racism allied with self-pity and a pinch of self-hatred you want,this is the place!

  2. It was said at the regional meeting that Fraser could not be a delegate because he was a Zionist and therefore a racist.

    Unbelievable. Even the UN has rescinded its “Zionism = racism” bollocks.

  3. Labenal – You are right nobody gets it why Israel has to be racist but nobody would tolerate racism –

    • Hunt: “nobody gets it why Israel has to be racist”

      It is you who doesn’t get it. We know exactly why Israel has to be racist because we know our history. It is for the same reason that Jews had to be Christ killers, or race-defilers, or communists, or capitalist speculators, or cosmopolitan usurpers.

      For anti-semites like you – the Jews are the antithesis of European morality. You are nothing without your hostility to Jews. Where is your identity as a worthwhile human being without Israel as your canvass onto which to paint your phoney anti-racist credentials? Meet the new anti-semites, same as the old ones, always masquerading under the flag of virtue and progress. That’s your culture, and we hold it in the highest contempt.

  4. I will as soon as Palestinians can exercise their right of return to their homes. I am sorry to make the answer conditional. Anyway, as you know Egypt has already signed a peace deal with Israel.

    • Great, so you accept conditions. Well, here’s one for you. Israel will happily withdraw its troops and uproot its settlers from “Palestine” (as it did in Gaza in 2005) as soon as the Palestinians accept that Israel has a right to exist in peace within its borders.

      Too difficult for you?

      And what does Egypt’s peave deal have to do with anything – Israel does not “occupy” any part of Egypt (you will recall that Egypt gave up all claim over Gaza, which was under Egyptian control until 1967. Funny how nobody was calling for Egypt to stop “occupying Palestine” back then, isn’t it?)

    • In any event, the Palestinians don’t have a “right of return to their homes”. No refugee (if that is indeed what they are, several generations later) have that right. Return is but one of three preferred outcomes for refugees according to the UN. The others are resettlement or integration.

      All other refugee groups from the last 60 years or so have managed to melt into society in one country or another. It is a shame for the Palestinians that their “brethren” in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt etc would rather use them as political pawns/for target practice than allow them to integrate into their societies.

    • “I will as soon as Palestinians can exercise their right of return to their homes. ”

      Neither the homes nor a so-called “right of return” exists. This is a ruse.

    • JH says:”…return to their homes” Don’t you mean “liberate”Palestine of its Jews JH? That’s what “PLO” means and always meant. Go to its Charter in case you didn’t get the meaning in its own title. This organisation has never been about “returning home” .
      So your condition really translates as a command : Go and commit suicide.
      Too bad that’s not going to happen.

  5. Jewish members of the UCU should now resign en masse. Why stay in an organization that is institutionally anti-Semitic?

  6. Labenal do not lie – Jews who left Germany and their descendants or Spain and their descendants have the right of return – and besides the Zionists are claiming the right of return going back at least 1000 years.

    Spain is now granting citizenship automatically without any residency requirement to those who can demonstrate descent from those Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago. The rule could make as many as 3 million Sephardic Jews worldwide eligible for Spanish citizenship (600,000 of them in the United States, including a number who identify as Hispanic). The details remain a little sketchy, but assuming no costs and minimal bureaucratic hoops one can expect a good subscription for the offer (Spanish citizenship may not be so valuable these days, but EU citizenship is).
    The rule has some superficial similarity to Germany’s approach to Holocaust survivors stripped of German nationality under the Nazi regime. German law provides for the “restoration” of citizenship to survivors and descendants, with no residency, language facility or other requirements.

      • My guess is LSD.

        Oh, you asked if anyone had any idea “what he’s on about“, not “what he’s on.”

        Sorry, never mind…

      • Pretz, He’s on about the Spanish agreeing to hand over automatic ID’s to Jews who claim they were removed by the Spanish back in the inquisition days.

        My take is that many Jews need an EU ID and many spanish needs Jews to come back…
        Funny how they don’t mind the Jews back when they’re in financial problems…

    • Jabal/Abdul, whatever you choose to call yourself now, and whichever part of Lahore you’re from, this time…
      Do you understand the difference between a sovereign state(like Spain) deciding, of its own accord, the possibility of granting citizenship to whomever it pleases, and some “universal right”? Perhaps you’d understand it better in Urdu.
      Secondly, it is very well certain that the Jews have never posed any threat to either Spain or Germany, whereas many Palestinians vow to derive the Jews into the sea, if and when they succeed in obtaining the prerequisite demographics.
      Something about chanting “Khaybar, Khaybar, al-Yahud…”, you know, that puts so many of us off…
      But then again, you’d know all about it, wouldn’t you? You don’t have any Jews, at all, anywhere in Pakistan, now do you?

      • “Do you understand the difference between a sovereign state(like Spain) deciding, of its own accord, the possibility of granting citizenship to whomever it pleases, and some “universal right”?”

        Good point Commentary and well made.

        “Jeremy Hunt” is effectively saying that, because my neighbour invites his friends round for dinner, anyone is legally entitled to come into my house and raid the fridge whenever they like. What a joke!

    • Let’s not play games here, “Jeremy.” Nowhere near 3,000,000 Jews are returning to Spain. And if all of them did they would still be a fraction (~6 percent) of the Spanish population (Arabs are 22% of the Israeli population). Besides the fact that this is a sovereign decision of Spain, not an international “right,” come and see me when Spain decides to admit 50,000,000 descendants of Muslims who once controlled that country (Spain’s population is around 47,000,000). Spain’s jewish population consider themselves Spaniards. Palestinians want to flood tiny Israel with 5,000,000 specious “refugees” in order to make Israel into an Arab majority state called “Palestine.” The two situations are in no way analogous, and you are a fake.

  7. pretzelberg your friend is caught with his trousers down and you want to know what everybody is looking at. You know what it means and I suspect your friend Labenal also – if not google it nowadays things are very easy even racist morons like you can manage it.

    • Jeremy, Jeremy seems to me the pills you are using against your psychologically and mentally debilitating disorder are out of date… You should call help before you start throwing out your furniture through the window or give poison to the neighbor’s pet…

    • “Commentary101 you disgust me with your suggestion of ethnic genocide”

      He made no such suggestion. But you can find such suggestions all over Arab media, school texts, sermons, etc. It’s the kind of thing they actually carried out against close to 1 million Jews (as opposed to your Arab-centric revisionist fairy tale). You can also find them carrying it out presently against Christians – that’s real, and it’s happening right now all over “sacred Arab and Muslim lands,” including the so-called West Bank and Gaza. There’s only one place where the Christian community is actually growing. Yep, you guessed it.

      • Jeff, thank you. That sums up my point to a “T”.
        These trolls are getting ever more pesky. First, it’s hiding behind Anglicised monikers, which is in itself indicative of some sort of inferiority…
        And then, it’s the utterly perverse, but equally futile attempt to turn reality on its head by slandering Israel/Jews with the most ridiculous claims — easily refutable, but very cacophonous.
        You do us all credit Jeff, by answering with tempered and measured ripostes. I am afraid I lack your patience sometimes, when dealing with the same pathetic trolling, time after time…

        • Yes, Commentary, these people certainly do suffer from an inferiority complex. I’m afraid that that’s a big part of their dangerously racist attitude toward Jewish sovereignty.
          There’s only one thing I disagree with you about – I think you write consistently the best, most pointed comments here.

          • It is not so much an inferiority complex as actually being inferior. Abdul bint Fatima here is a pygmy, both in intellect and morality. Unfortunately for normal people, he has a Mick Philpott level narcissism which causes him to badger his betters.

    • Now, now Abdul/Jabar/Kamal… do they teach you such poor deflection tactics at IT schools in Islamabad/Lahore?
      Now, have you considered my question? How many Jews have you got in Pakistan? (Hint: it’s not one).
      Why do your Jamaat-e-Islamii comrades chant “Khaybar” to the Jews still remaining, elsewhere, in the world? — After all, they’re the ones so adept at real ethnic cleansing — e.g. Pakistan’s Jew-free status.
      I see you’ve resumed the trolling routines. Wise choice…
      Do you know what would really cement your new-found intelligence? Clearing from here, ASAP.

    • “Ethnic Genocide”? I really would prefer that no one die in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. However, it seems to be framed as a zero-sum game by the Palestinians and their supporters. Therefore, I would prefer if the Palestinians died and not the Jews. The Jews have done enough dying for others’ mental infirmities.

  8. That Mark Osborn report for Engage is pretty entertaining in parts. Some pillock called Andrew Price says “I therefore support a socialist federation of the Middle East”!!!!

    As for the slur against Fraser: what if a non-Jew with similar views to him on I/P were a delegate? Would they likewise face the ridiculous “Zionist and therefore a racist” charge?

    • Pretz: Some pillock called andrew Andrew Price says “I therefore support a socialist federation of the Middle East”!!!!

      There was one, it was Nasser’s pan-Arabist movement, and later Ba’athist Syria and Iraq. Nothing like a bit of red-tinted nostalgia to glorify the defunct forces of reaction and fascism in the name of equality and progress.