UK academic union bans anti-Semitic poster from Web site

Jenna Delich posted a link to an anti-Semitic article on the Web site of former Klu Klux Klan leader, David Duke.

state-religion survey 224 (photo credit: )
state-religion survey 224
(photo credit: )
The University and College Union (UCU) member who posted a link on the union's Web site to an anti-Semitic article on the Web site of former Klu Klux Klan leader, David Duke, has been banned indefinitely from posting on the site. Jenna Delich, a UCU member from Sheffield, posted a message on the activist list on the UCU Web site in support of a colleague who backs the call to boycott Israeli academia. In May, the UCU voted on a motion at their annual conference in Manchester which reintroduced an academic boycott of Israel. Matt Waddup, manager of the UCU activist list, sent an e-mail on Wednesday to all members of the list informing them of her suspension. "Time for one of my universally popular interventions," Waddup wrote. "I have received complaints from list members about the linking by another member to a Web site which contains highly offensive, racist material. "I acted to suspend the posting rights of the list member as soon as the union became aware of the link, and having reviewed this and previous conduct; I have now suspended their list membership indefinitely," he wrote. Waddup warned members to take responsibility and think before sending posts. "List members should note that my view as moderator is that you are responsible for what you post, including links. Check what you are sharing before you share it. Think about what you are saying before you press send," he wrote. UCU member Dr. David Hirsh, lecturer at the University of London's Goldsmiths College, said the decision was significant but accused the union of failing to take responsibility for the incident. "The UCU has taken no responsibility for the fact that it had already cleared Delich, in two formal investigations, of any wrongdoing. The UCU was told that there was a problem of anti-Semitism. It was given the evidence and it refused, until now, to do anything about it. "Nevertheless, today's move against Delich is significant. It is the first time that UCU has come near to recognizing that there is any problem of anti-Semitism in the union. It constitutes the final crumbling of the "criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-Semitic" brick wall. Meanwhile, a Web site that published the story about the UCU link to the anti-Semitic article on Duke's Web site has been taken offline after its service provider was threatened with libel. The internet service provider of Harry's Place, a popular British blog site which was one of the first to report on the incident, shut down the site on Wednesday. It followed the advice circulated on the UCU list by Mike Cushman, a research fellow at the London School of Economics, active in the boycott of Israel campaign and one of the organizers of an event in London last month entitled "International resistance to Zionism: In solidarity with 60-plus years of Palestinian resistance to the founding of Israel." He told Jenna Delich that he thought Harry's Place had "potentially libelled" her and advised her to contact the site's ISP. "The boycott campaign has often criticized its opponents when there has been talk about bringing anti-racist [legislation] to bear on the UCU. Their position has been that it would be an illegitimate tactic to use the power of the state to interfere with free speech in the union, but now, at least, some boycotters are hoping that British libel law is used to silence opponents of anti-Semitism and to protect themselves, and Delich, from criticism," Hirsh said. On the Facebook page Cushman created for last month's "International Resistance to Zionism" event, he talked about building an international network of "anti-Zionist Jews to support Palestinian resistance and seed new Jewish anti-Zionist organizing." "As with any other anti-imperialist struggle or struggle for social justice, working locally or even nationally is not enough. The enemy we face is international, and what we can do is limited unless we find ways to work together across boundaries and regions. We are building an international voice which challenges Zionism and its claim to speak on behalf of Jews worldwide. As an international force, we can contribute to the movement to defeat US-backed Israeli imperialism," Cushman said. Cushman was unavailable for comment.