Thursday, 27 April 2017

UCU can’t reject antisemitism definition and claim to be anti-racist

The British Government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy for our schools and universities defines extremism as: “Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”

Next month the University and College Lecturers Union (UCU) will debate at its annual congress a motion re-affirming ‘the UCU’s condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination’ as well as congratulating the UCU on its “exemplary anti-racist work”It then “resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism”.

They can’t have their cake and eat it: on the one hand they say they oppose racism and then pat themselves on the back for all their good work and immediately follow it up with “We don’t want to have anything to do with the IHRA definition” which has been adopted by the British government in the fight against antisemitism.

This is hypocritical extremist and racist behaviour which shows no respect and tolerance for the views of British Jewry. The union should be ashamed.

This offensive anti-Israel, anti-Zionist behaviour is nothing new to the UCU or its predecessor unions NATFHE and the AUT, which were first warned 15 years ago by the Board of Deputies that “those who engage in anti-Israel rhetoric should have regard to the anti-Semitic consequences.”

Since 2007 the UCU has adopted 24 resolutions which have criticised the actions of the State of Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians.These motions have focused mainly on the academic boycott of Israel and BDS, several of which were declared void and of no effect due to legal advice the union received. In 2011 the union caused a great storm of protest when Congress overwhelming voted to disassociate itself from the EUMC working definition of antisemitsim.

The UCU has an unenviable record as no other trade union in the UK comes anywhere near their number of anti-Israel resolutions. There probably isn’t another union anywhere in the world that matches this total.

Over the last 10 years the ‘boycott Israel’ lobby within the union has caused the union to spend large sums of money on human resources as well as legal advice. It continues along this path like a dog with a bone and can’t let go.

I agree with the UCU when they say that in the context of ‘Prevent’, “it is perfectly legitimate to express support for Palestinian rights or to express either support for or opposition to Israel.” But this motion is not primarily about the Israel/Palestine conflict it is about the denial of Jewish human rights, the right to live without discrimination as well as our definition of antisemitsim.

If the UCU adopts this motion then it will be guilty of racism towards the Jewish people and should be labelled as such.

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