Monday, May 30, 2011

University and College Union, UK, endorses antisemitism

David Hirsh live-blogged the discussion and vote today in the UCU Congress to reject the EUMC definition of anti-semitism. Very depressing.

(From his report) Sue Blackwell on the EUMC working definition:
Sue Blackwell to propose the motion against the EUMC. definition adopted by NUS, parliamentary inquiry, US State Department. In Jan 2010 Denis Mcshane tried to have Azzam Tammimi banned from speaking. [Tammimi is Hamas's guy in London - DH] Blackwell goes on, McShane argued that an external speaker should be rejected if they have a history of antisemitic language in line with the EUMC…” EUMC comes from the American Jewish Committee, European Jewish Congress, self confessed lobby groups for Israel. Ken Stern, author of EUMC is deeply concerned about “politically based antisemitism” otherwise known as antizionism which treats Israel as the classic Jew…. antisemites seek to qualify israel from membership of the community of nations.” In other words, if you are for a boycott, you are an antisemite. These influences are evidenced by American spellings in the document. Definition is not fit for finding Real antisemitism but is ideal for those who want to blur boundaries between antisemitism and antizionism.
Where to start with this incoherent verbiage in favor of antisemitism? Because the definition has American spelling it should be rejected? American and European Jewish defense organizations exist solely to lobby for Israel? Blackwell is deliberately ignoring the bloody history of antisemitism (how she can, as a European, escapes me!) which necessitates the existence of such groups as the AJC and EJC! What is "real antisemitism" to Blackwell? Since she's opposing the use of the EUMC definition, what definition does she propose instead? From reading Tony Greenstein's repulsive response to the Engage report of the debate, I get the feeling that only someone like Gilad Atzmon qualifies as a "real antisemite" to these people (and I suspect that for some of them even Atzmon, who spouts classic antisemitic rhetoric, is not antisemitic).

(From Hirsh's report) Ronnie Fraser's opposition to the UCU motion:
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.
Many Jews have resigned from this union citing their experience of antisemitism. 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.
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.
Instead of being listened to, I am routinely told that anyone who raises the issue of antisemitism is doing so in bad faith.
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.
You, a group of mainly white, non-Jewish trade unionists, do not [have] 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 antisemitism 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

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