Major defeat in case claiming union was anti-semitic


by Ben White    
3:34 pm - March 27th 2013

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Pro-Israel pressure groups in the UK have suffered a major defeat in efforts to repress Palestine solidarity activity within the trade unions, as an Employment Tribunal dismissed a high-profile case brought against the University and College Union (UCU).

Academic Friends of Israel director Ronnie Fraser, represented by leading lawyer Anthony Julius, claimed he suffered antisemitic harassment in the UCU, complaints judged by the tribunal to be “without substance” and “devoid of any merit”.

Fraser called dozens of witnesses, including MP John Mann, former MP Denis Macshane, the Jewish Leadership Council’s Jeremy Newmark, Harry’s Place blogger Sarah AB, and Michael Whine of the Community Security Trust (CST).

Newmark was found to have given partly “untrue” evidence, as well as making a “preposterous claim” while “playing to the gallery”. Both Mann and Macshane were deemed to have given “glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions”.

The tribunal’s conclusions were damning:

Lessons should be learned from this sorry saga. We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means. It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated…

We are also troubled by the implications of the claim. Underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression.

While the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) welcomed the ruling and its implications for trade unionists wishing to pursue boycott campaigns, anti-boycott activist David Hirsh claimed the Employment Tribunal’s decision was itself anti-semitic.

Revealingly, Israel advocates had been hoping for a “huge victory“, and the likes of Martin Bright hailed Ronnie Fraser for “an act of considerable personal courage”. An editorial in The Jewish Chronicle called it “this decade’s version of the Irving trial“.

Was the Israeli government involved too? A senior official at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently revealed that, “over the last six months Israel has taken on two (court) cases in partnership with UK Jewry” in fighting Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS). This very likely includes Fraser’s case, yet Anthony Julius had previously denied any such links, saying that to assume the case was “being supported by the Israeli government” is a “fantasy”.

Last autumn, Jews for Justice for Palestinians called Fraser’s demands “bizarre and undemocratic”, and described the case as a “ludicrous, bullying and dictatorial attempt at shutting down debate”. They were right.

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About the author
This is a guest article. Ben White is a freelance journalist who has written for Guardian's CIF, Electronic Intifada and others. His book 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide' (Pluto Press), was published in 2009.
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Reader comments


1. Simon Wolfers

Lawfare lost. May the trend continue.

It is most disturbing when Israel’s supporters, rather than win or loose on the merits of their argument, seek to claim that even debating action in support of the human rights of the Palestinians is racist.

The Tribunal are quite right to dismiss these slew of claims which only serve to undermine the struggle against actual racial harassment and anti-Semitism.

People can find out more and get involved in the struggle for Palestinian human rights via the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, http://www.palestinecampaign.org

Mr White, what do you believe should happen to Israel?

I can’t give any credence to this case but some Jews feel very defensive when Israel is mentioned and some will feel under attack. Of course that’s not harassment and this claim was preposterous and disturbingly anti-democratic. In no way should workers organisations feel afraid pass resolutions or stand up to parliamentary sh*ts for fear that this constitutes “harassment”.

Still, I feel sorry for Ronnie Fraser. He’s clearly a sincere and sensitive soul if a bit naive. The public drubbing he’s received by the tribunal must have been far worse than anything he’s experience with the UCU. David Hirsh, Anthony Julius, Lesley Klaff and Martin Dysch who encouraged and cheered on this ludicrous campaign should be ashamed of themselves.

I hope Sally Hunt’s words are taken to heart:
“The claimant, while unsuccessful, of course had the right to challenge the union in the courts and will be treated with respect within the union as will his views on this question. Now that a decision has been made I hope in turn that he, and others who share his views, will play an active part in the union and its debates rather than seek recourse to the law.”

I also hope that the UCU gets the respect it deserves as an organisation campaigning for its members while being committed to internationalism and the Palestinian cause and cleared, by a tribunal going through it’s procedings with a fine comb, of any institutional racism. Trade union democracy may not be the most sexy and exciting thing but we should treasure it and expand it.

5. Shatterface

Newmark was found to have given partly “untrue” evidence, as well as making a “preposterous claim” while “playing to the gallery”. Both Mann and Macshane were deemed to have given “glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions”.

Confidence in their position is evidence of its falsehood?

“Confidence in their position is evidence of its falsehood?”

I think the point is that it isn’t evidence for their claims. They failed to give straight answers to straight questions asking for details of their accusations against the UCU both in their meeting with the UCU leadership and in the tribunal. They’re politicians – practiced at bluster and filibuster – but as witnesses they failed to give evidence of any case to answer.

You should read the case details before firing off.

7. Shatterface

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“I’ll happily change my mind”

You think I’m interested in changing your mind about Ben White – a man whom I don’t know and have no opinion about? Seriously? I’ve no problem with your personal spat with him. Indeed, be my guest. I’m more interested in the content of the post.

“his defence of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial”

OK I like to take this sort of allegation seriously, so I’ve just read:
http://www.benwhite.org.uk/2006/01/10/history-myths-and-all-the-news-thats-fit-to-print/

It’s not an unreasonable analysis but it seems to shy from criticising the quite clear demagogic content of Ahmedinajad’s rhetoric. However it does confirm what I believed in the first place and that is Ahmedinajad has not come out clearly as a Holocaust denier. In any case Ben White is certainly not “defending Ahmedinjad’s Holocaust denial”. I don’t see any hint of anti-semitism in this article.

Now I know there is an anti-semitic fringe amongst anti-zionist activists and I also know that there are a lot of people trying to smear anti-zionist activists. I’ve seen cases of both. However, I think this is a case of the latter.

#17 Andrew

You’ll also find this interesting/useful perhaps, on this issue (especially first section):

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/07/17/smearing-opponents-as-anti-semitic/

19. MikeInBrixton

@Biscuit you state “UCULeft in particular is riddled with antisemitism of the kind espoused by self-styled “pro-Palestinians” like White.”

If you have evidence that UCULeft, or UCU more widely, is antisemitic why didn’t you offer your expertise to Fraser’s team. They spent day after to day in court without producing any evidence of antisemitism.

Maybe you were afraid of exposing yourself to the humiliation that Mann, MacShane, Newmark, Julius et al suffered. I have never read such a damning dismissal of an ET claim as this one received.

You can read the tribunal findings, closely argued on law and fact, at http://bricup.org.uk/#236

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23. Dick Gregory

On the MPs, this quote from the judgement shows what Mann was like:
‘Mr Mann made no bones about his view that the union was operating in an anti-Semitic way and that those at its head must address the problem. He did not explain what the anti-Semitic behaviour was supposed to have consisted of besides referring to the boycott debate and characterising any boycott of Israel or Israeli institutions as itself anti-Semitic.’
While the judgement attempted to restrict itself as much as possible, contrary to the demands of Fraser and his advocate, this is an indictment of the claim that to be against the establishment of a state biased in favour of Jews, and against Arabs, is to be against Jews; aka “denial of Israel’s right to existence”.
‘It seems to us that a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness and, even if it was, it could not be substituted for the pleaded characteristics, which are race and religion or belief.’

Here’s the rest of the judge’s quote on the two MPs, reproduced because it’s hilarious.

For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti- Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is … ” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.

Biscuit, you dolt, Ben White is a specialist writer on Israel/Palestine, not a ranting generalist blogger or columnist. This means he writes about Israel/Palestine, not about every goddamn thing that takes his fancy. Just as Paul Krugman doesn’t write pieces in the economics section of the NYT saying “free the Maldives girl” or “down with Assad”, because it would be irrelevant and weird for him to do so, so doesn’t Ben.

When Gerald Kaufman made a speech in Parliament in 2009 where he said Israel was acting like Nazis in Gaza, was he being antisemitic?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJPMcEkcfy4

I think we should know.

26. Dick Gregory

I assume the MacPherson reference is to the one of the strange distortions adopted by Israel’s supporters to keep discussion away from the rights and wrongs of the dispossession of Palestinians, that because MacPherson said that victims of violence should have a say in whether it is treated as a racist attack, supporters of Israel should be allowed to decide that people who argue with them are a priori antisemitic.
When these arguments are examined by outsiders, it is obvious how ridiculous they are, but Israel’s supporters can only interpret this as universal antisemitism in their non-falsifiable system of thought.

“When these arguments are examined by outsiders, it is obvious how ridiculous they are, but Israel’s supporters can only interpret this as universal antisemitism in their non-falsifiable system of thought.”

As best I can tell, a percentage of Israelis believe they have divine right to occupy all the lands of ancient Palestine because of a covenant between their ethnic deity and His chosen people:

It inevitably follows from such a mindset that any criticism of that premise is bound to be antisemitic.

In case any here think I’m making this up, try this interview with an Israeli in Israel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl7lecaTYK8

28. Rick Worth

Michael Whine? Tell me that’s a made up name.

its great to see sense in the courts. Israel brutilise a population while stealing their land and if you dare say this truth or try and boycott this apartide state they try and take you to court. nasty as it is ridiculous.

30. flyingrodent

Having just skim-read the judgement and read the conclusion in full, you have to surmise that this is a pants-down judicial spanking for the “Why are you singling out Israel for criticism” genus of debate.

It’ll settle nothing, of course, because I/P is such a vicious and irrational pissfight on both sides, but it really should give those who push the anti-UCU side of the argument pause.

The judges didn’t just find those arguments to be flawed – they found them to be utterly without merit and, although they’ll say so only euphemistically, packed full of utter bullshit to the point of bursting.

Given that these were basically the same arguments that have underpinned the pro-Israel side in most of the inkblot-racism-detection squabbles of the past decade, it really is a pretty humiliating thing to have the entire kit and kiboodle dismissed as being basically made-up, politically-convenient arsewash.

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“David Hirsh claimed the Employment Tribunal’s decision was itself anti-semitic”

LOL

This is a landmark ruling that ought to permit sane discussion of Israel in Palestine without everyone who expresses disgust at the Israeli government and army’s actions facing accusations of antisemitism and high profile calls for apology and resignation/sacking. Especially in universities. Too often, those who are for Israel’s actions try to have it both ways, by claiming on the one hand that any attack on Israel is an attack upon Jewry in general and, on the other, criticising (justly) those who use ‘the Jews’ as a shorthand for ‘the Israeli government and those who support its actions’ (many of whom aren’t Jews and, indeed, would have been rampant antisemitics in the 1930s, ironically) when criticising Israel. You can’t have it both ways and this ruling gets us out of that vicious circle.

“a cesspit” / “aware and respectful of libel law”.

From personal experience of online discussions and debates – which goes back to 1995 – it has been regular practice to claim that criticism of Israel or Israelis amounts to anti-Semitism, “in effect, if not intent”. Least that statement be regarded as exaggerated, I quote Lawrence Summers, as President of Harvard, on 17 September 2002:

“But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
http://president.harvard.edu/speeches/2002/morningprayers.html

The Jewish Chronicle has now reported on the outcome of the case. Low on detail and doesn’t mention its own Chairman, Anthony Julius’s role in the whole debacle:

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/104001/pro-israel-activists-case-against-ucu-fails

You are aptly named.

I laughed until my sides ached, particularly at the question about whether the Israeli government was involved.

Get help!!

And to Simon Wolfers below – I hope that you are as vociferous against Islamic/Islamist lawfare as you are against this campaign.

What rather gets me is when the Chosen, who are not national citizens of Israel, take grave offence to any criticism of Israel as though they were citizens of it.

Some of us hereabouts, by comparison, feel it to be our patriotic duty to call Blair to account for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by British forces – and to complain about the filtering out of references in Britiin’s history to the Opium Wars in the 1850s, to General Dyer’s role in the Amritsar Massacre in 1919 or to the scale of repression in Kenya of the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s.

In the Macarthy era in American politics, any criticism of America was apt to get painted there as traitorous and Commie-loving.

@39 You think you are better than “the Chosen”? You think that this is what it’s about? A free for all for anti-Jewish jibes?

Why the anti-Jewish jibe Bob? Is your superiority to “the Chosen” “what really gets you”?

42. Charlieman

@34. Guy Halsall: “This is a landmark ruling that ought to permit sane discussion of Israel in Palestine without everyone who expresses disgust at the Israeli government and army’s actions facing accusations of antisemitism and high profile calls for apology and resignation/sacking.”

Cobblers. The judgement makes it clear that the panel found no relevant aspects of employment discrimination. More generally, the panel considered that it had no role in what they determined to be a political dispute. It was a bloody employment tribunal.

The tribunal did note the advice given to UCU several years ago by Lord Lester regarding academic boycotts. This advice has guided UCU leadership on the handling of conference debates and has, at the least, prevented the union from acting ultra vires. It severely undermined the Fraser argument before the legal team called a witness.

UCU leadership also has to accommodate the UCU Left faction which continues to push for boycotts that would cause the union to breach discrimination law. Members of the UCU Left commonly express anti-Israeli sentiments that could be viewed as anti-semitic. It hardly needs saying that activists who behave in such ways are unusual and unrepresentative, but they are very vocal. UCU Left is a broad faction so I would never accuse all.

Sadly, UCU Left Palestinian activism has been debilitating for the union. Members have left the union, not always because they are for or against particular conference motions, but because there hasn’t been enough trade unionism.

As a former UCU member (AUT then UCU for 20 years), I have to say that the work of local branches in support of members’ employment rights can be great. The enormous changes in higher education require a strong union at branch level. If I still worked in HE, I’d be a member.

” . . . commonly express anti-Israeli sentiments that could be viewed as anti-semitic.”

Lots of things can be viewed as anti-semitic.Claiming that criticism of Israeli war crimes must also entail criticism of every Jew in the world, for example.

If the Jewish Chroncile really want to see what anti-semitism in 21st century Britain looks like, they should take a look in the mirror.

44. Charlieman

@43. dave: “Lots of things can be viewed as anti-semitic.”

Does this suffice?

“Yesterday Jenna Delich, a UCU member, wrote the following message on the activist list in order to support a colleague who was arguing in favour of a boycott of Israeli academics:
John,

In support to your link this may be a long but also an interesting reading:
http://www.davidduke.com/general/humanitarian-disaster_595.html
No comment necessary. The facts are speaking for themselves.

Jenna
JENNA DELICH”

People do things that they later regret. I hope that this was one of them.

If I spun every criticsm of Blair, Cameron, the BNP, UKIP, GW Bush etc as yet another virulent attack on the caucasian race, I’d properly be regarded as stark staring bonkers and nasty with it.

Thank providence for Gerald Kaufman.

Bob B, if you do not want to be thought antisemitic don’t use “the Chosen” in such a snide antisemitic manner. Any argument you make against Israeli policy will be stronger by not picking up that whistle.

47. flyingrodent

Well, Bob B can fuck off. If you want to get him going, ask him about the Scots – if he goes off that badly about us, he’ll go apeshit about anyone. The man is a tit.

Nonetheless though, it does bear repeating that this judgement has tried most of Britain’s trollish pro-Israel arguments, and found almost all of them wanting.

You can argue about whether they’re specifically relevant to an employment tribunal, this is true.

On the other hand, I’d say this is the only time we’ve tried the last ten years of pro-Israel “You say this but not that” horseshit in court, and it’s been dismissed as hilarious, fatuous, politically-motivated, see-through, ludicrous, bad-faith bullshit of the first water.

And let’s be clear here – it was the cream of British pro-Israel bullshit who were pushing this, not anyone else, and they were found wanting.

So I ask: those who equate Britain’s many and varied Israel-bashers – the actual Jew-haters, and those that aren’t – how’s it going, guys? You appear to have just handed your enemies a vast, nailed club to beat you with. An apt political cartoon would depict you nailing your testicles to the floor.

So, should you change tack a little to a mode of argument that’s a little more honest and less filled with nonsense and non-sequiturs, or should you continue with the same-old same-old?

This was merely a tribunal hearing. Its not worth getting carried away with but I would be very surprised if this is the end of the matter. Having refused to define antisemitism, the tribunal conveniently ruled within the context of what is acceptable debate and not. They said its acceptable to debate boycotting Israel but they did not rule on the process and form of that debate and, that has left a huge part of this issue unresolved. Fortunately for the UCU, they rejected the EUMC definition of antisemitism and substituted it with a self serving definition,, so the tribunal, (as it is not a court)did not rule on whether engaging in debates calling for the boycott of Israel is antisemitic or not. This is probably correct as they didn’t have to. The consequence of this tribunal is that it effectively changes nothing and resolves nothing, it leaves the UCU to continue with the debate on the boycott of Israel and Ronnie Fraser left with his initial claim unanswered. Was Ronnie Fraser a victim of institutionalized antisemitism, well, we will have to wait and see I suppose.

49. margin4error

Rare that I have any opinion on the Middle East (Long away away and both sides seem utterly awful to me) – I’m finding that when I do my opinions tend to be in opposition to israel.

The last time was the lies about the Co-op being anti-semitic because because it refused to buy goods from firms that had set up on illegally siezed lands in the West Bank.

This time it is because of a dictatorial attempt to attack institutions that allow for plurality of debate.

All of which leads to a question. Do the people making such claims realise they are making people like me, who don’t care one iota about their issues normally, consider them a threat to my freedom and right to choice? Cos that’s a pretty good way to make me care.

The whole point is that they do not allow for a plurality of debate. Its institutionalized mob rule in that the debate is one sided, biased and fails to acknowledge dissent. Surely that is a threat to your freedom? This reminds me of the Steven Lawrence investigation, nobody actually believed that the Met could be institutionally racist, or similarly, the claim that the disparity between BME and white student attainment in Universities has nothing to do with institutionalized discrimination. Neither the Met nor the Universities got away with it. I have to say, margin4error, I am surprised at the side you chose.

51. flyingrodent

Was Ronnie Fraser a victim of institutionalized antisemitism, well, we will have to wait and see I suppose.

I hate to pop this particular bubble, but this really has already been decided upon and the answer is “No, Ronnie Fraser was not and in fact, almost his entire argument was so risibly poor that it should never have reached a court of law”.

The judgement really couldn’t be more stark. It’s about as damning as it could possibly be for the complainer, the witnesses and the mode of argument itself.

The case wasn’t just laughed out of court, you know. The judges were especially harsh on it as a naked attempt by the complainer and his supporters to bullshit an organisation for political reasons.

Whether you think that’s fair or not – and I’m basically dismissive of your complaints here, for various reasons – this question really is settled, and no amount of We wuz robbed is going to cast doubt on that fact.

Ben White’s claim not be antisemitic is reminiscient of the claims by supporters of apartheid in South Africa. None of them would actually admit to being racist and all would point to how they have actually enhanced the lives of Black South Africans. Similarly they would also talk about how they engaged with Black South Africans to create opportunity for education and jobs, so, how can they be racist. I don’t know if Ben is antisemitic or not, but there are similarities.

flyingrodent: It wasn’t a court of law. It was an Employment Tribunal. Big difference!

“I would be very surprised if this is the end of the matter.”
It probably isn’t the end of the matter inasmuch as people like you will continue their endless self-referential circle jerking on the blogosphere, but I would be astounded if anything like this troubles the legal system in the future. Have you actually read the judgment?
“Having refused to define antisemitism, the tribunal conveniently ruled within the context of what is acceptable debate and not… Fortunately for the UCU, they rejected the EUMC definition of antisemitism and substituted it with a self serving definition”
So did they define anti-semitism or didn’t they? In any case it certainly wasn’t their job to do so, but to rule on whether Fraser had suffered racial discrimination as defined by the law, not by David Hirsh or Norman Geras. Dealing with the real world is a bit difficult for you, isn’t it?
“The whole point is that they do not allow for a plurality of debate. Its institutionalized mob rule in that the debate is one sided, biased and fails to acknowledge dissent”.
This is what the tribunal found after a meticulous study of the transcripts of the UCU Congress debates:
“proceedings were well-ordered and balanced… They were managed in an even-handed fashion with speakers selected in turn to speak for and against the motions… The debates were conducted with courtesy. Speakers on both sides received applause. Despite strength of feeling, they lightened the occasion with humour from time to time. We were quite unable to detect the atmosphere of intimidation which the written case on the Claim’s behalf attempted to convey.”. Do you have any evidence whatsoever to contradict this?

55. flyingrodent

It wasn’t a court of law. It was an Employment Tribunal. Big difference!

You know very well what I mean, but I’d wholeheartedly encourage yer Hirshes and Juliuses to try to bring this kind of case again elsewhere.

The problem isn’t the venue or the law. The problem is the quality of the argument, and its inability to overcome certain inconvenient realities – realities like the fact that it’s at least 90% composed of trolling political bullshit.

“This is what the tribunal found after a meticulous study of the transcripts of the UCU Congress debates:”

Not just transcripts, but recordings of the debates. They couldn’t rule out that there was some inaudible jeering, but really there was no case to answer here.

57. Robin Levett

@Trev #48:

Having refused to define antisemitism, the tribunal conveniently ruled within the context of what is acceptable debate and not.

This is – breathtakingly – wrong.

The tribunal was called upon to decide whether the UCU’s behaviour treated Fraser to his detriment in relation to his religion or ethnic or national origin. Anti-semitism is narrower, not broader, than that; to put it another way – it is impossible (at least to me) to see what behaviour could be antisemitic that did not fall within one or more of those categories. They said that the behaviour did not fall within any of those categories; therefore it was not just not antisemitic, it was not any other sort of racism either.

#50:

The whole point is that they do not allow for a plurality of debate. Its institutionalized mob rule in that the debate is one sided, biased and fails to acknowledge dissent.

That isn’t what the Tribunal found (repeating Bernard G’s quote above):

proceedings were well-ordered and balanced… They were managed in an even-handed fashion with speakers selected in turn to speak for and against the motions… The debates were conducted with courtesy. Speakers on both sides received applause. Despite strength of feeling, they lightened the occasion with humour from time to time. We were quite unable to detect the atmosphere of intimidation which the written case on the Claim’s behalf attempted to convey.

back to #48:

Fortunately for the UCU, they rejected the EUMC definition of antisemitism and substituted it with a self serving definition

What is wrong with the UCU’s definition of anti-semitism? Why does the EUMC have the last word on deciding the definition of antisemitism – and why does its definition, arguably confusing as it does anti-Zionism and criticism of Israeli government policy with antisemitism – have any better claim to accuracy?

Bernard G:
So did they define anti-semitism or didn’t they?

The tribunal did not define it. I agree that they didn’t have to, but, by not doing so they avoided the issue. The issue was, did the UCU subject Ronnie Fraser to Hostile Environment Harassment, not as you say, suffer from racial discrimination. Racial discrimination was not an issue in this hearing. However, to decide if Ronnie Fraser was subject to a Hostile Environment the Tribunal should have considered antisemitism, but as it is a tribunal they did not have to. This may not be the case in more formal, structured and evidence based venue or forum. That’s why I said the matter remains unresolved. This is a issue of law that is not only significant to the UCU and Fraser but to all minorities in public sector institutions. It leaves the regulation of Hostile Environment Harassment to the public institutions and, as a matter of law that cannot be correct. So, this has nothing to do with ‘peolple like me who continue their endless self-referential circle jerking on the blogosphere.’ Remember that Tribunals are comparatively cheap and quick so are always worth it as a first shot.

Do you have any evidence whatsoever to contradict this? Yes, Ronnie Frasier’s testimony and the testimony of other witnesses.

flyingrodent: You fundamentally lack an understanding of our Legal System and the purpose/role of Tribunals and Courts. I really don’t have time to explain it all to you.

“They couldn’t rule out that there was some inaudible jeering”
Well it was probably institutional jeering, wasn’t it, audible only to the trained ears of Hirsh, Ashworth and co. Being anti-semites the judges couldn’t hear it.

“So did they define anti-semitism or didn’t they?”

The tribunal didn’t define anti-semitism.

61. flyingrodent

You fundamentally lack an understanding of our Legal System and the purpose/role of Tribunals and Courts. I really don’t have time to explain it all to you.

This maybe so, although pretty ironic if true.

Thankfully however, I can read, and what I’m reading here is Wah wah wah, we wuz robbed, it’s all so unfair.

Given that the complaint was dismissed as basically a political exercise, almost entirely lacking in merit, I’m not much moved by its supporters complaining that I don’t understand why it was a non-political and noble struggle.

Robin Levett:

‘The tribunal was called upon to decide whether the UCU’s behaviour treated Fraser to his detriment in relation to his religion or ethnic or national origin.’

I am afraid that this is incorrect. The tribunal was required to determine if Fraser was subjected to Hostile Environment Harassment, RELEVANT to a protected characteristic NOT on the basis of that characteristic. There was overwhelming evidence at the tribunal to suggest that, given Frasers religion and ethnicity, antisemitism may be a factor in creating a Hostile Environment but the tribunal chose not to consider antisemitism. They had the right to do that as a Tribunal. Instead, what they said was given his ethnicity and religion, all that is happening here is open debate and pluralism of ideas therefore none of this is relevant to any of the protected characteristics. As I said in a previous posting this seriously exposes minorities in public institutions. It allows perpetrators to define what constitutes an act of discrimination,harassment or racism against a minority. In terms of the legal obligations owed to the protection of minorities this cannot be correct, hence this hearing has resolved nothing.

What is wrong with the UCU’s definition of anti-semitism?

The EUMC definition is good enough for the US State Department and the OCR in the US. Its accepted in a number of institutions across Europe. But yes, the UCU don’t have to accept it. The problem is, that they made up a self serving definition which allows them to effectively engage in a hostile environment without it being relevant to a protected characteristic. That’s mob rule isn’t it.

As for the proceedings at the motions, as I said in response to Bernard G, the testimony for the claimant contradicted the tribunals claims.

2The issue was, did the UCU subject Ronnie Fraser to Hostile Environment Harassment, not as you say, suffer from racial discrimination. Racial discrimination was not an issue in this hearing@
“By a claim form presented on 25 August 2011 the Claimant sues the Respondents for harassment based on his protected characteristics of race (Jewish) and religion or belief (Jewish)”. The issue of Hostile Environment Harassment was obviously so central to the case that the term does not appear once in the judgment.
“Yes, Ronnie Frasier’s testimony and the testimony of other witnesses”.
But this testimony was rejected as an entirely false depiction of what happened by the judges, wasn’t it? So why do you persist in believing it?

64. flyingrodent

Also worth pointing out that “The tribunal was unfair and thus irrelevant because it didn’t accept my view of racism” is a pretty damn poor excuse in the face of crushing conclusions.

It’s not quite “But I had my fingers crossed”, but it’s not a billion miles away.

@58
The ruling didn’t restrict itself to the strict case of harassment and did comment critically on union procedures which could relate to discrimination particularly relating to the handling of complaints from the activist’s email list. I should say that

1) I suspect you are right in that another case could be filed against the union on these grounds.
2) I don’t see why it would require a definition of anti-semitism any more than the harassment claims require a definition anti-semitism.
3) I suspect that it would have to be a far more specific querying of various failures. The case which was trying to be brought was to prove that the union as a whole was harassing all of it’s Jewish members by it’s acts and omissions by creating a hostile environment, so a new case would surely have to abandon these grand ambitions.
4) The procedural criticisms leveled at the union in the tribunal were, to be honest, small fry.

“The tribunal was required to determine if Fraser was subjected to Hostile Environment Harassment, RELEVANT to a protected characteristic NOT on the basis of that characteristic.”

I understand your words but I don’t understand your point. If the protected characteristic is not relevant to the alleged hostile environment then how could it possibly be the basis of that hostile environment?!!

“There was overwhelming evidence at the tribunal to suggest that, given Frasers religion and ethnicity, antisemitism may be a factor in creating a Hostile Environment but the tribunal chose not to consider antisemitism.”

There really wasn’t overwhelming evidence of anything much. But anyway, are you talking about union officials or union members?

“It allows perpetrators to define what constitutes an act of discrimination,harassment or racism against a minority.”

Of course, and a good thing too! We live in a free society and people and institutions can define racism how they like. Non of that undermines equality and opportunity legislation. There is no legal definition of anti-semitism. For instance some people think that denying Jews the full right to national self-determination constitutes a form of anti-semitism whereas others disagree. This is a matter for debate not for tribunals and not for the courts. Freedom of speech and plurality are important.

Bernard G:
I have some homework for you
Section 26 Equality Act 2010 was the basis of the complaint. Look it up and then see if you can find which section and subsection mentions hostile environment.

The tribunal did not say that they do not believe the claimants evidence, they did not give it weight or relevance, primarily because they (Tribunal) chose not to make antisemitism relevant. I reiterate that they were entitled to do so.

Andrew:

Interesting points but

2. The ‘unwanted conduct’ under Sec 26 would require some context and parameters. This would then necessitate a definition to be able to resolve what constitutes the unwanted conduct.
3. Not necessary. It would however require a realigning of the evidence.
4. The procedural aspects were a single factor, there were numerous others which would be taken as a whole in deciding the hostile environment.

“Bob B, if you do not want to be thought antisemitic don’t use “the Chosen” in such a snide antisemitic manner.”

The Chosen claim to be chosen, which is why they say Israelis have this covenant with their ethnic deity which entitles them to occupy all the lands of ancient Palestine by divine right. Try this interview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl7lecaTYK8

Personally, I thought Britain had declared war on those claiming to be the Master Race back in September 1939. In that UN debate in November 1947 about the future of Palestine, Britain did warn that partition would lead to continuing conflict.

60 something years further on, after many massacres perpetrated on the Palestinians by Israelis, that is precisely what happened. Back in 2009, Gerald Kaufman said that Israel was acting like Nazis in Gaza. We need more plain speaking like that. The Chosen claim to have been chosen.

Suppose I turned up at your abode claiming I’d seen a copy of an ancient scroll which was saying my deity had granted me a divine right to take your home and land. Suppose I interpreted every criticism of the foreign policies of America or Britain or any western country as another virulent smear on caucasians.

Ever since I started debating on the internet, I’ve persistently been labelled antisemitic for just mentioning the atrocities inflicted by the Israelis on the Palestinians. In fact, my earliest boyhood friend came from a German refugee family and I’ve had many later friends and girl friends who are jews. I certainly don’t regard Gerald Kaufman as antisemitic for saying what needed to be said about Israel acting like Nazis.

“2. The ‘unwanted conduct’ under Sec 26 would require some context and parameters. This would then necessitate a definition to be able to resolve what constitutes the unwanted conduct.”

This has already been considered in the ruling. No definition of anti-semitism is required to define what constitutes unwanted conduct.

“4. The procedural aspects were a single factor, there were numerous others which would be taken as a whole in deciding the hostile environment.”

But I thought we were talking about discrimination not hostile environments?

But anyway, what I am pointing out is that the tribunal didn’t refrain from criticising the UCU despite the fact that it through the case out. The ruling considered and commented on the claimant’s evidence even when it was considered not pertinent to the harassment claim.

Andrew:

That point was in relation to a remark by #57.Robin Levett. The point I was making is that the protected characteristics need to be relevant to the hostile environment only. The fact that the characteristics do not form the basis of the claim means that you do not have to show any actual discrimination against the claimant on the basis of the relevant characteristic.

There really wasn’t overwhelming evidence of anything much. But anyway, are you talking about union officials or union members?

I am talking about Union officials.

There were 10 grounds of complaint all with substantiated evidence. I don’t want to go into the details of the complaint but, by analogy, if a racist who abuses black footballers from the terraces is known to a football club and, that football club allows that person to every game and every game he abuses black players on the pitch, do you think that in some way that football club is creating somewhat of a hostile environment for the black footballers on the pitch? Also, do you think, in and of itself, that this would be overwhelming evidence of nothing much? Well, The UCU had given a platform to an internationally known and condemned racist and anti-Semite, even though at the Tribunal they tried to pass the buck onto some other organization and claimed that the Equality Act didn’t apply to it.

We live in a free society and people and institutions can define racism how they like

Isn’t that what they did under apartheid.

What if the football club above defines racism in such a way that allows the action from the terraces as mere banter and part of the game. Where will that leave us as a society that has an obligation to minorities. Free and plural, I do not think so. In any event, the Equality Act requires some definition to determine the conduct requirement under the Act, whether its a definition of antisemitism, Islamaphobia, sexism, homophobia etc. The point here is that this case does not stop with Ronnie Fraser and the UCU. It has huge implications for all minorities .

Andrew:

This is not a case about discrimination. Ronnie Fraser is saying is that the UCU engaged in certain conduct which as a Jew, created a hostile environment for him to be a member in. This may be a form of discrimination but it is not the basis of the claim. Surely you would need something to measure the hostile environment against. Of course open debate and plurality of ideas doesn’t create a hostile environment as the tribunal found correctly. But, was it the spread of ideas and open debate that was really going on here or was there an underlying agenda. Its a free country, I’ll leave that to you decide.

Correct, the UCU was criticized, and I also understand that they have publicly issued a statement of reconciliation towards ex-members. Not all has been lost by this hearing I suppose.

72. margin4error

Trev

But has the union blocked people from forming pro-israeli arguments and making them?

If so, tell people like me and I can go back to considering both sides equally awful. If not, then you are just wrong in #50 because this case does seem to be an attempt to trick the courts into blocking debate.

Sorry, Trev I misread your post no.58. Yeah the case was not one about discrimination. I misread you as suggesting that the issue of discrimination had not been resolved. Sorry.

However I’m struggling to see what you are talking about. What hasn’t been resolved?

It certainly legitimate for a football club to use a faulty definition of racism which would allow (in theory) for racist behaviour. If so it might be worth criticising the club for that reason. If the club actually allows racist behaviour on the terraces in practice then that is a different matter.

In my opinion (I’m not a lawyer) it is not just that the tribunal did not have to give a definition of anti-semitism, it would have been inappropriate for it give a definition. The matter of the definition of anti-semitism or for that matter racism in general is a hotly discussed topic, stacks of academic papers have been written on this. It’s not up to a tribunal to muscle in on that debate.

What was relevant was the need to provide context for the protected characteristics of Jewishness (both “race” and religion). The tribunal did rule on this:
“150 It seems to us that a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness and, even if it was, it could not be substituted for the pleaded characteristics, which are race and religion or belief. Accordingly, if
and in so far as the Claimant seeks to base his claim on what might be termed a sub-characteristic (we are bound to say that we remain uncertain as to Mr Julius’s position on this point), we find that it is not open to him to do so. A separate matter, which we will address in relation to the individual claims, is whether the treatment complained of, or any of it, was ‘related to’ his Jewish race or his Jewish religion or belief.

The ruling also insisted (contrary to the UCU’s position) that these protected characteristic should be interpreted loosely. We have this example provided by the UCU’s lawyer:

“Similarly, criticism of inadequate governance in the Catholic Church which has allowed sexual abuse of
minors cannot sensibly be regarded as relating to individual Catholics and capable of amounting to harassment on religious grounds”

But the tribunal ruled that:

“Nor do we accept the Catholic Church example as valid. One
flaw, in our respectful opinion, lies in the notion that the imaginary criticism of church governance must relate to individual Catholics. The behaviour under challenge must relate to the protected characteristic. In our view repeated criticism of any religious institution could be seen as ‘related to’ the religion which that institution espouses or represents.”

So I think the panel were sensitive to the claimants. I think the problem lay with the attempt at defining a political position or outlook as a protected characteristic.

Maybe there are legal criticism of this stance, but I am very glad the tribunal came to this conclusion. For example I wouldn’t like to see the political stances of Hizb ut-Tahrir categorised as protected characteristics relating to Islamic belief.

margin4error:

No, they didn’t but any one with a pro-Israel view felt too intimidated, bullied, and threatened to actually stand up and make a point. Hence the hostile environment and hence my reference in #50 to institutionalized mob rule. Have a look at the recommendations that the tribunal made to the UCU with regard to some of their actions. Anyway, you should always consider both sides of any issue carefully in all circumstances.

Trev @74:

“…any one with a pro-Israel view felt too intimidated, bullied, and threatened to actually stand up and make a point. Hence the hostile environment and hence my reference in #50 to institutionalized mob rule.”

How do you square what you’ve said with the quote from the Tribunal judgement quoted in Robin Levett’s post @57? Here it is again, just in case you missed it:

“…proceedings were well-ordered and balanced… They were managed in an even-handed fashion with speakers selected in turn to speak for and against the motions… The debates were conducted with courtesy. Speakers on both sides received applause. Despite strength of feeling, they lightened the occasion with humour from time to time. We were quite unable to detect the atmosphere of intimidation which the written case on the Claim’s behalf attempted to convey.”

Andrew:

Therein lies the problem. The Tribunal resolved the matter in relation to Frasers (so called) attachment to Israel or the Zionist project. In this context they claimed, it did not relate to his religion or race. As religion or race is the protected category and, attachment to the Zionist project is not, no protected characteristic has been breached. Therefore all that was going on was open and free debate. The tribunal is correct and was entitled to rule as such. However, the claimants submitted evidence to try and demonstrate that Fraser as a Jew, irrespective of any attachment to the Zionist project, felt that he was engaged in a hostile environment. In other words the actions and behavior of the Union towards Israel was impacting on Fraser simply because he was Jewish. This then would constitute unwanted conduct. In order for this point to be made the tribunal would have to consider what is unwanted conduct and this would involve a discussion of what is antisemitic. The tribunal chose not to go down this path because under the definition of antisemitism designed by and for the union there was a distinction between being a Jew and criticism of Israel. The tribunal accepted this and thereby avoided any discussion on anti antisemitism. Had the tribunal considered, in light of the evidence submitted, that there may be a relationship then perhaps a protected category may have been affected. I think the tribunal outcome would have been more acceptable if they had indeed considered the fact that there may have been antisemitism but did not find it. The failure to actually consider it and indeed reject the claim of antisemitism without consideration is problematical. I know this sounds as if it is stifling legitimate criticism of Israel, but, it is the extent to which the criticism and conduct is unwanted which is crucial under the Equality Act. That then leaves huge scope for wanted criticism of Israel. Again the tribunal failed to consider this. The problem with this, and why it is unresolved is twofold. Firstly antisemitism was clearly an issue for the claimants and rejected by the tribunal. The matter of what constitutes antisemitism in relation to the actions of and towards Israel needs to be resolved, at least for the purposes of the Equality Act. Secondly, it appears from the judgement, that provided institutions ensure that their guidelines and policies do not on their face violate the Equality Act then, that will substantiate. To go back to the football analogy. If the football club says that no supporter should make a direct reference to any players race from the terrace, then, if a supporter constantly screams to black footballers to ‘go back to Africa,’ then this will be deemed to be accepted conduct because reference to a continent is not a protected category in creating a hostile environment. We do however know exactly what the supporter means in their racist chant and that this is a direct reference to their race and ethnicity. This goes to heart of institutionalized racism and discrimination. So, this issue likewise remains unresolved.

I like the point you raise about Hizb ut-Tahrir and I agree with it. However, the issue with Fraser went beyond his religious belief. It went to his ethnicity and race and dealt with a representation of his ethnicity and race.

The Judge:

I didn’t miss it. I have already made the point. The defendants testimony was embraced by the Tribunal. It doesn’t mean that the claimants lied or that it didn’t happen. Does it?

78. Robin Levett

@Trev #60:

Robin Levett:

‘The tribunal was called upon to decide whether the UCU’s behaviour treated Fraser to his detriment in relation to his religion or ethnic or national origin.’

I am afraid that this is incorrect. The tribunal was required to determine if Fraser was subjected to Hostile Environment Harassment, RELEVANT to a protected characteristic NOT on the basis of that characteristic.

Indeed; but to breach section 26 that HEH had to be behaviour that was “in relation to” (not “RELEVANT TO”) a protected characteristic – and to be harsssment the behaviour had to be, at the very least, behaviour that subjected him to a detriment.

For that purpose, the Tribunal did not need to define anti-semitism; because anti-semitisim is a subset of the behaviour that is proscribed. If the behaviour was not related to Fraser’s religion, or national or ethnic origin, it couldn’t have been anti-semitism. However you wish to define anti-semitism, it must relate to the victim’s religiuous or national ro ethnic origin.

There was overwhelming evidence at the tribunal to suggest that, given Frasers religion and ethnicity, antisemitism may be a factor in creating a Hostile Environment but the tribunal chose not to consider antisemitism.

Don’t be ridiculous. The tribunal considered behaviour in relation to Fraser’s religion or national or ethnic origin; which is broader than anti-semitism. If it wasn’t behaviour in relation to those cgharacetristics it couldn’t be antisemitic.

Instead, what they said was given his ethnicity and religion, all that is happening here is open debate and pluralism of ideas therefore none of this is relevant to any of the protected characteristics. As I said in a previous posting this seriously exposes minorities in public institutions. It allows perpetrators to define what constitutes an act of discrimination, harassment or racism against a minority.

Again, this is a perverse interpretation of the decision. The Tribunal did not accept the UCU’s definition of anti-semitisim (BTW – you still haven’t identified what you consider to be that definition); it didn’t need to accept any definition, for the reason set out above.

What is wrong with the UCU’s definition of anti-semitism?

The EUMC definition is good enough for the US State Department and the OCR in the US. Its accepted in a number of institutions across Europe.

But not by either the UK or the EU.

But yes, the UCU don’t have to accept it. The problem is, that they made up a self serving definition which allows them to effectively engage in a hostile environment without it being relevant to a protected characteristic. That’s mob rule isn’t it.

State UCU’s definition and explain why it has the effect for which you contend. Or continue to bloviate – it’s up to you.

As for the proceedings at the motions, as I said in response to Bernard G, the testimony for the claimant contradicted the tribunals claims.

And the recordings of the relevant proceedings, which the Tribunal listened to, showed that the testimony for the claimant was, to put it politely, mistaken. You seem byy the way to have a misconception of the Tribunal’s function. It doesn’t make claims; it hears evidence on claims, and makes findings on the basis of that evidence. It is, in function if not in name, a court of law.

Trev,
“The Tribunal resolved the matter in relation to Frasers (so called) attachment to Israel or the Zionist project.”

There were ten matters which were resolved and there were multiple reasons for each of the complaints being rejected.

For example:

Complaint 1 about the passing of various resolutions regarding Israel/Palestine was rejected on all grounds –
not unwanted, not related to Fraser’s race or religion,
did not violate Fraser’s dignity or create an adverse environment, even if the court were persuaded the requisite effect would not be made out, even if it had been it would not be reasonable to expect it to have that effect.

OK so you’re suggesting that the passing of these resolutions might be seen to be unwanted if we consider this or that particular definition of anti-semitism. You’ve still got the problem that it has been rejected on four other grounds.

There is not a silver bullet here which will fix this for you. You can’t say the tribunal was wrong on point X and therefore the whole ruling collapses because there are multiple strands and the case was ruled entirely without merit for multiple reasons.

So I could argue the toss about this apparent need for the tribunal to consider some sort of definition of anti-semitism but it wouldn’t have changed the result if it had adopted it.

“No, they didn’t but any one with a pro-Israel view felt too intimidated, bullied, and threatened to actually stand up and make a point. Hence the hostile environment and hence my reference in #50 to institutionalized mob rule”
Given the legalistic pointillisme you affect at every opportunity, the extent to which your argument seems to simply boil down to pointing out that evidence was presented in favour of the case that was dismissed, prior to the case being dismissed and such evidence being unreliable, is remarkable. Let’s repeat again the quote from the judgment that has now been put to you several times: “…proceedings were well-ordered and balanced… They were managed in an even-handed fashion with speakers selected in turn to speak for and against the motions… The debates were conducted with courtesy. Speakers on both sides received applause. Despite strength of feeling, they lightened the occasion with humour from time to time. We were quite unable to detect the atmosphere of intimidation which the written case on the Claim’s behalf attempted to convey.”
Now, it is true, as you continue to point out, that witnesses did come forward to assert that the atmosphere at UCU Congress was such as to make a performance of the Oberammegau Passion Play in 1940 look like a Catskills production of Fiddler On The Roof. But it is also true that the judges meticulously considered their evidence and found it to be entirely without foundation. Can you then tell us why you persist in believing in the evidence of those witnesses and perpetuating a myth of “mob rule” for which no foundation has been provided?

I can’t believe the energy going into this, which is trivial compared with the changes we are going to see in welfare and the NHS next week. It’s fucking shameful that we should be so distracted.

‘However you wish to define anti-semitism, it must relate to the victim’s religiuous or national ro ethnic origin.’

Why was the conduct of the UCU not related to his religion, belief or race?

‘Don’t be ridiculous. The tribunal considered behaviour in relation to Fraser’s religion or national or ethnic origin; which is broader than anti-semitism. If it wasn’t behaviour in relation to those cgharacetristics it couldn’t be antisemitic.’

They just have to consider religion and race. You have lost me here. I have no idea what you are saying or how to respond.

‘Again, this is a perverse interpretation of the decision. The Tribunal did not accept the UCU’s definition of anti-semitisim (BTW – you still haven’t identified what you consider to be that definition); it didn’t need to accept any definition, for the reason set out above.’

Correct the tribunal did not have accept any definition. I have never claimed it had to or that the judgement is incorrect. What I said was, by failing to consider antisemitism we are all back where it began and the matter is unresolved.

‘State UCU’s definition and explain why it has the effect for which you contend. Or continue to bloviate – it’s up to you.’
I cannot access the actual text at the moment but:
The UCU definition of antisemitism identifies those aspects of contemporary antisemitism most congruent with earlier forms-fear and hatred of the Jew. But in contradiction to the EUMC definition it is incomplete. It does not capture that aspect of contemporary antisemitism which fears and hates the ‘the Jew among nations.’ So under the UCU definiton, calling a Jew a money grabbing Kike would be antisemitic but, claiming Israelis are Nazis and that the IDF kills children to use their blood at Passover would not be. I surely hope I have passed the bloviate test.

‘the testimony for the claimant was, to put it politely, mistaken’

Is this in the judgement? I don’t think it was mistaken, it wasn’t given the correct weight given the issues.

‘it doesn’t make claims; it hears evidence on claims, and makes findings on the basis of that evidence. It is, in function if not in name, a court of law.’

Correct, I meant the claims of the defendant. A court of law-debatable.

Was this even more virulent antisemitism?

Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, has caused outrage in Israel and angered sections of the British Jewish community by making veiled criticism of the Sharon government’s policies towards the Palestinians.

Dr Sacks, who has consistently defended Israel’s right to wage a legitimate “war on terror” against Palestinian militants, has questioned whether the conflict was compatible with the ideals of Judaism.

In contrast to his previous reluctance to criticise Israeli policy, he said the continuous fighting was corrupting Israeli culture. [Telegrpah 28 August 2002]

The outcome:

The rumours have started. There has been discussion in the pages of The Jewish Chronicle week about the retirement of the chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, even though it is three years away. But whilst speculation as to his successor is rife, a much more fundamental question is whether the post should even continue.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/mar/15/chief-rabbi-jonathan-sacks

@Trev
Thinking about it further, if the tribunal had adopted a definition of anti-semitism which succeeded in labelling the UCU’s actions as anti-semitic then (although the harassment claim would still have been thrown out for multiple other reasons) you could say that the tribunal had ruled that the UCU is being anti-semitic. Fine but this is not a further investigation of the evidence but a pointless tautology and what is more it would show this fangled definition of anti-semitism to be useless for dealing with harassment – you have anti-semitism without adverse effects and without intention, a concept of anti-semitism which is based on neither subjective attitudes of the perpetrator nor on objective institutional effects.

85. Shatterface

Personally, I thought Britain had declared war on those claiming to be the Master Race back in September 1939. In that UN debate in November 1947 about the future of Palestine, Britain did warn that partition would lead to continuing conflict.

I don’t think you could have made yourself look a bigger anti-Semite if you sported a swastika tattoo on your forehead.

“So under the UCU definiton, calling a Jew a money grabbing Kike would be antisemitic but, claiming Israelis are Nazis and that the IDF kills children to use their blood at Passover would not be.”

Oh come on.

Bernard G:

‘We were quite unable to detect the atmosphere of intimidation which the written case on the Claim’s behalf attempted to convey’

Here’s a speech from a delegate and sure he was given an opportunity to respond. The parenthesis is mine to help you along:

Have a look at the grounds of complaint for a more detailed expose of the level of mob rule.

Ronnie Fraser:

I, a Jewish member of this union, am telling you that I feel an antisemitic mood in this union and even in this room.

I would feel your refusal to engage with the EUMC definition of antisemitism, if you pass this motion, as a racist act. (Intimidation)

Many Jews have resigned from this union citing their experience of antisemitsim. Only yesterday a delegate here said ‘they are an expansionist people”. It is difficult to think that the people in question are anything other than the Jews. (Threatening, Intimidation)

You may disagree with me.

You may disagree with all the other Jewish members who have said similar things.

You may think we are mistaken but you have a duty to listen seriously. (Intimidation)

Instead of being listened to, I am routinely told that anyone who raises the issue of antisemitism is doing so in bad faith. (Intimidation, bullying)

Congress, Imagine how it feels when you say that you are experiencing racism, and your union responds: stop lying, stop trying to play the antisemitism card. (Intimidation, threatening)

You, a group of mainly white, non-Jewish trade unionists, do not the right to tell me, a Jew, what feels like antisemitism and what does not.

Macpherson tells us that when somebody says they have been a victim of racism, then institutions should begin by believing them. This motion mandates the union to do the opposite.

Until this union takes complaints of antisemitsim seriously the UCU will continue to be labelled as an institutionally antisemitic organisation.

It’s true that anti-Zionist Jews may perceive things differently. But the overwhelming majority of Jews feel that there is something wrong in this union. They understand that it is legitimate to criticise Israel in a way that is, quoting from the definition, “similar to that levelled to any other country’ but they make a distinction between criticism and the kind of demonisation that is considered acceptable in this union

Ronnie met with stoney silence.

Andrew:

I think the significance the grounds of complaint attached to the rejection of the EUMC definition of antisemitism and, to the subsequent scrambling to create a UCU definition of antisemitism a few months before the case was scheduled, indicates that the complainant was hoping for some definition as a resolution to the case.

Here is an exert of a statement made by Ronnie Fraser in response to the Tribunal finding. Note in the final sentence he refers to the need for Anglo-Jewry to adopt a definition of antisemitism. As I said above, they were hoping the tribunal would do it.

‘ For the court to say that as Jews we do not have an attachment to Israel is disappointing considering we have been yearning for Israel for 2000 years and it has been in our prayers all that time. The second point highlighted the need for Anglo-Jewry to urgently adopt and publicise its own definition of antisemitism.’

FYI
UCU leaflet on anti-semitism
http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/o/2/Anti_Semitism_Leaflet.pdf

Includes Brian Klugg’s definition:
“At the heart of antisemitism is the negative stereotype of ‘the Jew’: sinister, cunning, parasitic, money-grubbing, mysteriously powerful, and so on. Antisemitism consists in projecting this figure onto individual Jews, Jewish groups and Jewish institutions.”

I would suggest that for the purposes of this definition (at least) that the state of Israel is a Jewish institution.

Bob B:

Its now 2013, Jonathan Sacks has retired and a new Chief Rabbi has been appointed-I believe.

Andrew:

Oh come on

The UCU definition of antisemitism does not consider the connection between Jews as a race and Israel as State. This makes accusations against Israel and Israelis open game season. Does this not sound eerily close to what the tribunal found?

“I don’t think you could have made yourself look a bigger anti-Semite if you sported a swastika tattoo on your forehead.”

Thanks, Shatterface, but I’m so used to personal abuse from the Chosen. That is so much easier than rationally defending the brutality of Israelis in Palestine. Gerald Kaufman called it correctly: Israel acting like Nazis in Gaza.

In fact, I spent WW2 living in inner London. In June 1944, after the D-Day landings, a V1 flying bomb dropped at the end of the road where my family lived then. In January 1945, a V2 ballistic rocket dropped at the other end. The London boroughs most severely hit by the V1s and V2s were where I lived then and where I live now because turned German spies had been told to send false messages to controllers in Germany about where the bombs were landing so as to protect the heavier munitions industries in north London.

There were about 9,000 fatal casualties among London residents as the result of those bombs and many thousands more injured. Any slightly thoughtful reader might reflect as to why on earth would I want to be pro-Nazi. It took Britain until December 2006 to pay off the loans from America to pay for weapons, fuel, food supplies and post-war reconstruction. America didn’t enter the war in Europe until Germany declared war on America on 10 December 1941.

One little thing – there is a tendency for Fraser’s side to split Jews into two groups
1) “Typical” Jews like Fraser who care greatly about Israel
2) Anti-Zionist Jews who are minority and not proper Jews at all (see Jeremy Newmark’s comments for that one).

They forget perhaps the largest group – those Jews who are just getting on with their lives and are not particularly fussed about any of this.

On real Nazi sympathisers, try this from the Guardian in September 2004:

How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power

Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today’s president
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

“The UCU definition of antisemitism does not consider the connection between Jews as a race and Israel as State.”

I am not sure if they have an official definition but a reasonbale interpretation of the definition they give from Brian Klugg does make a connection between Jews as a race and Israel as a state.

Besides, what’s so important about definitions anyway? Any definition will contain omissions. You can’t define ahead for the creativity of anti-semites. Surely what’s most important is to understand the phenomenon of bigotry against Jews rather than to map it’s exact contours.

95. Robin Levett

@Trev:

Just to be clear, are you referring to the Klugg quote, which was in a leaflet opposing antisemitism approved by the EHRC, as UCU’s definition of antisemitism?

96. Dick Gregory

Ronnie Fraser: I, a Jewish member of this union, am telling you that I feel an antisemitic mood in this union and even in this room.
As he wrote the speech before he was even in the room (details of this are on his friends’ Engage website from the time), he was either clairvoyant or projecting. The tribunal seemed to have settled on the latter explanation.
He and his friends just don’t seem to be able to accept that the reason they get into arguments is because people disagree with them. Here’s Jonathan Hoffman,
“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).”
Jaw-dropping. The Tribunal sees fighting antisemitism as akin to participating in a sport with the ‘teams’ evenly balanced and the contest played according to some kind of rulebook!
What planet do they live on?
Would they dismiss black or Muslim victims of racism – or female victims of sex discrimination – as mere players in a game?

97. margin4error

Trev.

The court seems not to have found any evidence of this intimidation you suggest, or of ant antisemitic attitude. As such I don’t really understand how the union has acted to block open debate.

Trev
It may be Easter, but it is feeling increasingly like Groundhog Day here. Yes, allegations of intimidation and bullying at UCU Congress were made. Those allegations were considered scrupulously by the tribunal, and found to be entirely without foundation. What part of that don’t you get? Why do the written and audio transcripts of UCU Congress provide no evidence whatsoever of this bullying or mob rule? Why do you think any other legal body would find differently?

99. Shatterface

Thanks, Shatterface, but I’m so used to personal abuse from the Chosen.

What makes you think I’m Jewish? And why would it invalidate my criticisms if I was?

Though I can believe you are used to ‘personal abuse’ from Jews and people sympathetic to them, what with you calling them ‘the Chosen’ and that.

“Though I can believe you are used to ‘personal abuse’ from Jews and people sympathetic to them, what with you calling them ‘the Chosen’ and that.”

The personal abuse started many years ago with any posted criticism of the ways Israel and Israelis treated Palestinians and built illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian lands. What I posted was a long way short of what Gerald Kaufamn said in Parliament in 2009: Israel is acting like Nazis in Gaza

It was only on looking into the rationale claimed by the Israelites for their supposed divine right to occupy the lands of ancient Palestine that I came to appreciate this was because they really believed themsleves to have some special covenant with their ethnic deity. That claim is their’s, not mine. I’ve posted links to show Israelis making this claim – as @27 – to show this is no invention on my part.

Here is more:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq1LK2qMwLA

101. t fletcher

ALTHOUGH COMMON SENSE AS PREVAILED HERE ,THIS CASE SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN HEARD ,IF YOU ATTACK SOMETHING THAT IS EVIL, WHICH ZIONISM AS PROVED ITSELF TO BE MANY TIMES OVER, HOW CAN IT BE WRONG.
IN MANY WAYS THIS WAS JUST LIKE WHAT HAPPENED IN AMERICA , WHEN JEWS OPPOSED THE CHUCK HAGEL NOMINATION.
IT WAS MORE ABOUT JEWS TRYING TO IMPOSE THERE WILL ON FREE SPEECH.
WHERE DO THEY GO, NOW ZIONISM IS NOT CLASSED AS BEING ANTI-SEMITIC, CLAIM THE JUDGES WERE BEING RACIST?

102. Chaise Guevara

@ 101

Shh.

After this report about prison brutality in South Lebanon under Israeli occupation, I suppose Amnesty also has to be consigned to the category of virulent antisemites:

Khiam prison was a detention and interrogation centre during the years of the Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon. From 1985 until the Israeli withdrawal this May, thousands of Lebanese were held in Khiam without trial. Most of them were brutally tortured – some of them died.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/correspondent/1002463.stm

104. organic cheeseboard

I’m very late to this, but can anyone explain why on earth Howard Jacobson was called as a witness? He last worked at a university in the 1980s from what I can tell.

This kitchen-sink approach, of including anyone and everyone who might agree (I’d also include the Sarah AB contributions here – a ‘moderate’ who also contributes to the one blog that is most OUTRAGED over this), is surely one of the reasons why Julius’s case failed so spectacularly.

Organic Cheesecake: “I’m very late to this, but can anyone explain why on earth Howard Jacobson was called as a witness?”

Similarly: why were Mann and MacShane called? I presume that the intention was to use people with some apparent authority to push for a very wide definition of anti-semitism. The Tribunal’s description of Mann and MacShane as giving “glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions” is a good description of how they normally appear to people outside their immediate circle.

106. Ruth Tenne

Denis MacShane was a Chair of the All-Party Inquiry into anti-Semitism which was commissioned in 2005 by John Mann. Undoubtedly Ronnie Frazer &Co felt that calling those two as witnesses is likely to add a major weight to their made-up accusation of anti-Semitism against the UCU.

Back in 2007 I have published an article in which I warned against the forthcoming witch-hunt by pro-Zionists of any one who seems daring challenging Israel policy and actions against the Palestinians .Sadly, my submission (see below) seems to ring true even more forcefully nowadays. due to the pro- Israel blatant bias of the media and the open – ended definition of anti-Semitism of the EU which equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Indeed the robust judgement by the Employment Tribunal is a ground breaking precedent which may turn the current trend of hurling accusations of anti-Semitism against those who take a courageous stance against Israel’s indefensible policies towards the Palestinians.
http://palestinechronicle.com/ruth-tenne-all-party-inquiry-into-anti-semitism/

“Unfortunately, The All Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism and the Government’s follow-up recommendations fail to recognize that a multi-racial and multi-faith society ought to have a coordinated and consistent policy whereby no ethnic or, religious, group, should be considered in isolation from other such groups. Thus, an inquiry into Anti-Semitism which singles out one particular religion may constitute an unwelcome precedent that may lead to undesirable, if not harmful, effects. Moreover, the follow-up report takes a dangerous step by stating that rhetoric about Israel and Zionism, “from the far right to the far left and Islamic extremists alike, employs anti-Semitic motifs that are consistent with ancient forms of hatred towards Jews”
This seems to suggest that peace organizations and activists who criticize Israel may be under the danger of being subjected to a witch hunt reminiscent of McCarthyism and the un-American activities campaign of the 50s. A similar danger equally applies to universities where the report points out that anti-Semitic activities are “all the more regrettable for occurring in places where [Jewish students] should be free to study unhindered by prejudice and harassment”.
The above statement is clearly inflammatory and opens the way to accusations and counter- accusations against any political and social activity on the campus which deems to be undesirable by Jewish students or the Union of Jewish Students. This may also legitimize the imposition of pressure on academic lecturers who seem to criticize Israel’s policies”

In spite of Anthony Julius introducing the case of the “Rugby Player” , the Tribunals attitude to all the 10 complaints which were all rejected can be summarised most simply by :
The tribunal panels’ statement that :
“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).”

Is one to suggest that a prostitute/hooker or woman of the ill repute /night is expected to accept sexual violence as hazard of the profession. I think the Rugby playing analogy by the Tribunal panel is absolutely preposterous as are its other refutations of Anthony Julius and Ronnie Fraser’s 1o complaints against the UCU.

As for the dismissal of Complaint 5 , ( reluctantly conceded by the Tribunal as having significant if not irrefutable legal standing )ie from the failure of the UCU to withdraw an invitation to a proven anti-Semitic speaker as being struck out by the legal device of being ‘out of time’ technicaly speaks volumes about the correctness and validity of verdict reached, and the self evidently ( by opinion) one sided view the panel presents in their dismissal of all the claimants 10 complaints.

The Tribunal panel make repeated inferences throughout their decision in discrediting Claimant witnesses as unreliable or show playing to the audience , or contributing nothing to the debate or avoiding questions, or repeatedly being unreliable in arranging meetings with the UCU , where as the UCU unreliability and tardiness in responding to the claimant’s complaints over many years goes unremarked. Whilst many of the most distinguished and experienced and recognised knowledgeable experts, Specialist MPs in the field of research on anti – semitism are summarily dismissed as missing the point or unreliable , the panel takes upon itself somehow to become the arbiters of what constitutes contextual or related characteristics of anti semitic harassment, displaying seemingly considerable ignorance or little knowledge of the precepts and beliefs of the jewish religion, the history of the jews through the ages, or accepting actual first hand oral evidence or clear exposition by Ronnie Fraser himself who they graciously accept as a sincere and reliable witness, of his sense of antisemitism.

Yet the panel seem to suggest that this combined expertise counts for nothing nor does EUMC definition of antisemitism, but the Panel alone and the UCU better understand antisemitism and its manifestations, and are better able to define what defines anti-semitism for themselves if they so wish.

Likewise the UCU in running an anti racist and anti-semitism campaign by issuing some leaflets amongst their members is clearly futile and self evidently gratuitous if in the space of one year over 1000 jews leave the union, for obvious reasons, when by the UCU’s own admission rarely more than one thousand members of the union leave in any year for a variety of reasons of mainly wages and conditions disagreements and other uk domestic issues. The arrogance of the panel and UCU union is almost palpable.

Yes Israel and Jews by association, are demonised or deprecated either openly or out of earshot of the microphones at UCU conference , no matter how many leaflets on Anti-semitism the Union may purport to put out.

The number of /Boycott Divestment and sanctions resolutions even if 33% or 25% out of foreign affairs total resolutions is way disproportionate to catalogue war and conflict situations going on in the world( yet another marker of antisemitism by the EUMC definition), but still no marker of anti Israel and anti semitism is perceived.

Failure to cancel a proven antisemitic speaker at at UCU congress is a clear demonstration of antisemitic insensitivity and would not be repeated were it an anti- union speaker or an anti religion speaker of other montheistic faiths, who held their sacred views or beliefs were being insulted. Yet the Tribunal panel thinks the UCU would undoubtedly have left such speakers to continue to speak at congress, which regrettably shows yet again the disconnect and out of touch manifestations expressed by the Tribunal panel.

This case verdict is yet another sad indictment of the discrimination suffered by Jews within the UK and elsewhere because they are jews or because they associate with the centrality of the state of Israel as a core and fundamental part of their religious and cultural belief as written in no less authoritative document as the Bible or old testament.

In spite of Anthony Julius introducing the case of the “Rugby Player” , the Tribunals attitude to all the 10 complaints which were all rejected can be summarised most simply by :
The tribunal panels’ statement that :
“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).”

Is one to suggest that a prostitute/hooker or woman of the ill repute /night is expected to accept sexual violence as hazard of the profession. I think the Rugby playing analogy by the Tribunal panel is absolutely preposterous as are its other refutations of Anthony Julius and Ronnie Fraser’s 1o complaints against the UCU.

As for the dismissal of Complaint 5 , ( reluctantly conceded by the Tribunal as having significant if not irrefutable legal standing )ie from the failure of the UCU to withdraw an invitation to a proven anti-Semitic speaker as being struck out by the legal device of being ‘out of time’ technicaly speaks volumes about the correctness and validity of verdict reached, and the self evidently ( by opinion) one sided view the panel presents in their dismissal of all the claimants 10 complaints.

The Tribunal panel make repeated inferences throughout their decision in discrediting Claimant witnesses as unreliable or show playing to the audience , or contributing nothing to the debate or avoiding questions, or repeatedly being unreliable in arranging meetings with the UCU , where as the UCU unreliability and tardiness in responding to the claimant’s complaints over many years goes unremarked. Whilst many of the most distinguished and experienced and recognised knowledgeable experts, Specialist MPs in the field of research on anti – semitism are summarily dismissed as missing the point or unreliable , the panel takes upon itself somehow to become the arbiters of what constitutes contextual or related characteristics of anti semitic harassment, displaying seemingly considerable ignorance or little knowledge of the precepts and beliefs of the jewish religion, the history of the jews through the ages, or accepting actual first hand oral evidence or clear exposition by Ronnie Fraser himself who they graciously accept as a sincere and reliable witness, of his sense of antisemitism.

Yet the panel seem to suggest that this combined expertise counts for nothing nor does EUMC definition of antisemitism, but the Panel alone and the UCU better understand antisemitism and its manifestations, and are better able to define what defines anti-semitism for themselves if they so wish.

Likewise the UCU in running an anti racist and anti-semitism campaign by issuing some leaflets amongst their members is clearly futile and self evidently gratuitous if in the space of one year over 1000 jews leave the union, for obvious reasons, when by the UCU’s own admission rarely more than one thousand members of the union leave in any year for a variety of reasons of mainly wages and conditions disagreements and other uk domestic issues. The arrogance of the panel and UCU union is almost palpable.

Yes Israel and Jews by association, are demonised or deprecated either openly or out of earshot of the microphones at UCU conference , no matter how many leaflets on Anti-semitism the Union may purport to put out.

The number of /Boycott Divestment and sanctions resolutions even if 33% or 25% out of foreign affairs total resolutions is way disproportionate to catalogue war and conflict situations going on in the world( yet another marker of antisemitism by the EUMC definition), but still no marker of anti Israel and anti semitism is perceived.

Failure to cancel a proven antisemitic speaker at at UCU congress is a clear demonstration of antisemitic insensitivity and would not be repeated were it an anti- union speaker or an anti religion speaker of other monotheistic faiths, who held their sacred views or beliefs were being insulted. Yet the Tribunal panel thinks the UCU would undoubtedly have left such speakers to continue to speak at congress, which regrettably shows yet again the disconnect and out of touch manifestations expressed by the Tribunal panel.

This case verdict is yet another sad indictment of the discrimination suffered by Jews within the UK and elsewhere because they are jews or because they associate with the centrality of the state of Israel as a core and fundamental part of their religious and cultural belief as written in no less authoritative document as the Bible or old testament.


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