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Written by Student Rights on 7 July 2011 at 11am

Director of Academic Friends of Israel sues UCU over adoption of 'anti-Semitic policies'

UCU (1)The director of the Academic Friends of Israel, Ronnie Fraser, has initiated legal proceeding against the University and College Union for allegedly ‘adopting anti-Semitic policies’. In the letter from Mr. Fraser’s lawyers to the UCU he states that the union is in breach of the Equality Act and has implemented policies which are attempting to “legislate anti-Semitism out of existence” and have created a “degrading, humiliating and offensive environment”.

This situation has come to the fore of late as the UCU recently voted to reject the widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism which is outlined by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. The UCU congress stated that it “believes that the EUMC definition confuses criticism of Israeli government policy and actions with genuine anti-Semitism, and is being used to silence debate about Israel and Palestine on campus”.

When reading the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism, which states, “anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”, it is clear that the UCU has extrapolated this definition far beyond its intended remit.

This situation is beginning to receive attention in both the media and the political realm. The most noteworthyi nstance so far is the British Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, writing an open letter to the Jewish Chronicle to voice his concern.

We at Student Rights are deeply concerned about this development which aims to rubbish a widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism and replace it with a far more loose definition of this despicable act. The UCU must recognise that this is the first step on a slippery slope to creating an open season of attacks against Jewish academics and students, and thus they must take measures to avert the possibility of racism pervading their ranks.