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The Academic Friends of Israel

The Academic Friends of Israel

     Vol.10No5                                                                       3July2011                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                        

As seen in the Sunday Times - read below

Trade union threatened with legal action for harassment of Jewish members

University Lecturers Union “creates an offensive environment” for Jews 

An academic has initiated legal proceedings against his own trade union, accusing them of being anti-Semitic and adopting policies that “violate his dignity”, “create a degrading, humiliating and offensive environment” and that harass its Jewish members. Lawyers representing Ronnie Fraser, Director of the Academic Friends of Israel (AFI), have written to the University College Union (UCU), which represents more than 120,000 university lecturers and academics, telling them that it is in breach of the Equality Act.

The letter says that after 11 years as a union member, Mr Fraser “has had enough” of the UCU’s anti-Semitic policies and with his options “limited to either resigning or suing, he has chosen to sue”. Anthony Julius, the eminent academic and Deputy Chairman at London law firm Mishcon de Reya, wrote to UCU general secretary Sally Hunt on Friday referring to their recent resolution that rejects an internationally-accepted definition of anti-Semitism. He said this was an attempt to legislate anti-Semitism out of existence, as a result of the UCU being “unable to defend itself against the charge of a certain institutional anti-Semitism”.  

In the letter, Mr Julius sets out Mr Fraser’s demands for resolution, which includes an acknowledgement of the UCU’s institutionally anti-Semitic policies, an apology to its Jewish members, the drawing up of a code of conduct in relation to its Jewish members and a commitment to sponsor an education programme on the dangers of anti-Semitism. Failure to meet these demands will see an Equality Act claim be made to an Employment Tribunal by Mr Fraser, which the letter states “he expects to win”.  

The letter also lists a number of institutionally anti-Semitic acts by the union over a number of years, including the invite in 2009 for committed anti-Semite Bongani Masuku to speak to its members.  Referring to the UCU’s conduct as “a scandal”, the letter concludes by requesting a response from the UCU by August 5th.  

For further information:   

The letter sent to UCU by Anthony Julius on behalf of Ronnie Fraser

http://www.academics-for-israel.org/Mishcon_letter_to_UCU_010711.pdf 

The Tipping point for the UCU by UCU by David Hirsh

http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/the-tipping-point-for-ucu-david-hirsh  

Tories target UCU’s weak spot by David Hirsh

http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/this-is-embarassing-tories-come-for-ucus-weakspot

The SUNDAY TIMES - 3 July 2011

Top lawyer battles with ‘anti-Semitic’ lecturers

Anthony Julius is demanding that an academic union apologises for creating a ‘hostile environment’ for Jews

 Isabel Oakeshott published: 3 July 2011

The lawyer who represented Diana, Princess of Wales in her divorce is to take on an association of university lecturers in a dispute over anti-Semitism on campuses.Anthony Julius is representing a freelance maths lecturer who claims the University and College Union (UCU) creates a “hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment” for Jews.

Ronnie Fraser, whose parents fled the Holocaust, says that after 11 years as a member he has “had enough” of its alleged anti-Semitic behaviour.In a letter to the UCU’s general secretary, Julius, deputy chairman of the London law firm Mishcon de Reya and himself an occasional university lecturer, describes the way the academic union treats Jewish members as a “scandal”.

In simple terms, the UCU is not a place that is hospitable to Jews. This is not just a violation of equality legislation, it is also a scandal,” he writes.“The scandal is a long-standing one ... continuous with the history of the union. It persists in its inhospitable conduct — indeed intensifying it year by year, piling fresh insults upon accumulated insults to its Jewish members,” Julius adds.

The UCU is one of the biggest academic trade unions in the world, representing more than 120,000 lecturers, researchers and administrative staff who work in universities and further education colleges.

Fraser’s legal battle follows the departure of a number of Jewish members from the union in recent years over its policies towards Israeli academics and universities.The organisation has repeatedly debated introducing an official academic boycott of Israel, but was advised by its own lawyers in 2007 that such a move would be unlawful and could not be implemented.

It is accused of allowing individuals to post hundreds of anti-Semitic comments on its internet forum for members, known as the “activists list”.In his letter, Julius lists a string of further alleged abuses, including: “penalising” lecturers who opposed a boycott; failing to deal with Jewish and non-Jewish members’ concerns about the boycott; failing to address the resignations by Jewish members; and a decision to reject the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism, following a resolution at a UCU conference.

“Unable to defend itself against the charge of institutional anti-Semitism, the UCU sought instead to legislate anti-Semitism out of existence. This indecent, discreditable resolution was passed in active disregard of the feelings of Jewish members — a disregard amounting to a kind of inflamed contempt for all Jews other than that minority among them ready to abet a degraded and obsessive ‘anti-Zionist’ activism,” Julius writes.

His letter on behalf of Fraser claims the problem dates back to at least 2008, since when conditions for Jewish members have “only deteriorated”.“Further boycott resolutions have been passed; further incontinently anti-Semitic comments on the ‘activists list’ have been posted; there have been further resignations from the union by Jewish members,” he writes.

Julius, who represented Heather Mills in her multimillion-pound divorce from Sir Paul McCartney, is known for his interest in anti-Semitism. He successfully represented the American author Deborah Lipstadt in a libel battle with the Holocaust denier David Irving, and has written books on the poet TS Eliot’s hostility to Jews and on the history of anti-Semitism in England.

In his letter on behalf of Fraser, Julius demands that the UCU make an “open and unqualified acknowledgement” that it has been guilty of institutional anti-Semitism, and apologise to Jewish members and ex-members.Fraser also wants the union to draw up a code of conduct in respect of Jewish members, and to sponsor a programme to educate academics on the dangers of anti-Semitism.

Nobody from the UCU was available to comment.

 

Patron:

The Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks

 

Advisory Board: 

Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Vivian Wineman - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Amir Lev

John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East

Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham

 

The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.