Jewish academic sues his ‘institutionally racist’ union

Ronnie Fraser, a doctorate student and director of the Academic Friends of Israel, accuses UCU of breaching UK's Equality Act.

July 7, 2011 04:56
2 minute read.
Jewish slander

anti semitism in UK 58. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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LONDON – A British academic has initiated legal proceedings against his own trade union, accusing them of anti-Semitism and harassment of its Jewish members after its decision to not recognize an internationally-accepted definition of anti-Semitism.

Ronnie Fraser, a doctorate student and director of the Academic Friends of Israel, has written to the University College Union (UCU), Britain’s largest trade union for academics – representing roughly 120,000 university lecturers – accusing them of breaching the UK’s Equality Act of 2010.

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Last month, the UCU voted to disassociate itself from the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s definition of anti-Semitism, leading to accusations it is institutionally racist.

The union passed the resolution at its annual conference in Harrogate in Yorkshire, claiming that the definition stifles debate and is used to deflect criticism of Israel.

In the letter, Fraser says that after 11 years as a member he has “had enough of the UCU’s anti-Semitic policies.”

With his options limited to either resign or take legal action, he has chosen the latter.

In a letter sent to UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, Anthony Julius – the eminent lawyer and deputy chairman at London law firm Mishcon de Reya, which is representing Fraser – accused the union of attempting to “legislate anti-Semitism out of existence” as a result of it being “unable to defend itself against the charge of a certain institutional anti-Semitism.”

Julius sets out 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 program on the dangers of anti-Semitism.

The letter states that failure to meet these demands, responding by August 5, will result in an Equality Act claim at an employment tribunal led by Fraser, which it says he will likely win.

“He expects to win, and in winning, to perform a service not just to his fellow Jewish UCU members and ex-members, but to the cause of decent, principled trade unionism,” Julius said.

Julius also listed some of the “institutionally anti- Semitic acts” by the union over the years, including the calls to boycott Israeli academia and an invitation for “committed anti-Semite” Bongani Masuku, international secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Masuku addressed the union in 2009 at a forum to discuss the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” campaign against Israel.

In the same year, the South African Human Rights Commission found Masuku guilty of using inflammatory, threatening and insulting statements against the South African Jewish community after he issued threats against Jewish businesses and supporters of Israel – and pronouncements declaring that Jews who support Israel must leave the country.

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