EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL SANCTIONS ANTISEMITISM

Employment Tribunal Sanctions Anti-Semitism

Lesley Klaff

Having just finished reading the lengthy judgment in the case of Ronnie Fraser v The University and College Union, I want to comment briefly on the Employment Tribunal’s response to the allegation of anti-Semitism in the UCU; and to the claim that Israel is a non-contingent aspect of Jewish identity.

Anti-Semitism was the crux of Fraser’s case. His complaint against the UCU was that the union had created a hostile environment for him as a Jewish member (‘Jewish’ being a “protected characteristic” under s. 26 Equality Act 2010) by engaging in unwanted anti-Semitic conduct. He complained that the unwanted anti-Semitic conduct, which included not only speech but also acts and omissions, was due to a prevailing culture and attitude in the union that was informed by contemporary anti-Semitism.   His written complaint, drafted by Anthony Julius who is renowned for his scholarly knowledge and innate understanding of anti-Semitism, went to great lengths to explain how and why forms of hostility to Israel and Zionism amount to contemporary anti-Semitism. The written complaint also explained that there have always been anti-Semitic Jews, as well as Jews who are ready to make common cause with anti-Semites, so that Jewish support for irrational hostility to Israel does not make it any the less anti-Semitic.

BDS ORIGINS—REMOTE AND RECENT

President Harry S. Truman, a history buff, said: “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” As a professional historian, I confess to an occupational affliction, which might be called “the obsession with origins,” that is a more sophisticated version of Truman’s  aphorism. This causes me, like many of my professional  confreres, to believe instinctively that past is key to present, and the essence of a thing resides in its origins. Sometimes, this instinct is right—sometimes not.

Allow me to speculate first about the remote origins of the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) Movement, critiqued in my Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel: An Anti-Semitic, Anti-Peace Poison Pill (link: www.wiesenthal.com/atf/cf/%7B54d385e6-f1b9-4e9f-8e94-890c3e6dd277%7D/REPORT_313.PDF).

BDS was officially launched only on July 9, 2005, with “the Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS” in which over 100 named Palestinian organizations declared that “fifty-seven years after the state of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners,” they were launching a movement “inspired by the struggles of South Africans against Apartheid.”

Obviously, as we shall see, the movement gestated before 2005. Yet it can be argued that its roots go back, not only to the early twenty-first century,  but to before the modern era.

The Brandeis Center’s New Litigation Initiative

With the expansion of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, we have begun a new litigation initiative that focuses on the resurgence of anti-Semitism on universities across the nation.  Specifically, we will work with faculty and students to investigate incidents, work with administration on procedures and protocols, and file legal complaints when necessary.  Our goal is change the culture on campuses so that anti-Semitism is taken as seriously as other forms of hate and discrimination while also maintaining academic freedom and freedom of speech.

WHY THE DEBATE OVER THE BOYCOTT/DIVESTMENT/SANCTIONS (BDS) MOVEMENT MATTERS

WHY THE DEBATE OVER THE BOYCOTT/DIVESTMENT/SANCTIONS (BDS) MOVEMENT MATTERS

Voltaire said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” A difficult standard not always lived up to by Voltaire—who often used invective (including anti-Semitic invective) to try to silence his own critics.

In researching and writing the Wiesenthal Center’s new critique of the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) Movement—Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel: An Anti-Semitic, Anti-Peace Poison Pill (link: http://www.wiesenthal.com/atf/cf/%7B54d385e6-f1b9-4e9f-8e94-890c3e6dd277%7D/REPORT_313.PDF)—I was struck, again as I have been in the past, by an unfortunate paradox. In the United States—with the freest of free speech charters—political debate is poorer and more constrained than it is, for example, in the UK without a First Amendment. I won’t defend my argument here other than to point to the contrast in quality between televised coverage of the debates on the floor of the U.S. Congress with those in the House of Commons.

UCU cleared of harassment in landmark tribunal

An Employment Tribunal has found in favour of UCU on all ten complaints of harassment brought by a UCU member who opposed the union’s policy on Palestine.

The claimant had been supported in his claim by leading lawyer Anthony Julius. In giving their reasoning the Tribunal stated that ‘the proceedings are dismissed in their totality’ and ‘we greatly regret that the case was ever brought.  At heart it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means.’

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Mehmet Sahin

As the first night of Passover approaches, we are delighted that Rabbi Abraham Cooper has joined guest blogger Harold Brackman in appealing for solidarity with Mehmet Sahin, a young Muslim man who is now in hiding over death threats because he has take a stand against anti-Semitism.  Rabbi Cooper, who serves as Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and who has been described as one of the most influential rabbis in America, joins this Blog for the first time in making this joint appeal.  We are inspired by Mr. Sahin’s courage and thank Rabbi Cooper and Dr. Brackman for their important insights, which we are confident will be remembered and discussed at many seder tables tonight.   (More about Rabbi Cooper appears after the “jump”).

The Shame of the Netherlands: A Young Muslim Must Go Into Hiding for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Post by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harold Brackman:

Passover. This week, Jews will eat more matzo then we ever thought possible, hear more commentary about the Haggadah and its multiple messages for our time, and sit back in awe and (hopefully) love at the site at of our extended family circle.

But this Pesach, let’s all of us leave some space for one young Muslim who deserves the world’s attention and support. He is not a martyr and desperately wants to avoid becoming one. But as of now, he and his family are in hiding in an undisclosed location in the Netherlands, because of death threats.

His name is Mehmet Sahin, a doctoral student, who has volunteered to reach out to street youth in the city of Arnhem. A few weeks ago he interviewed a group of Dutch-Turkish youth on Nederlands TV2 (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_h5s1yjsTI) during which several declared their unabashed hatred of Jews and open admiration of Hitler. “What Hitler did to the Jews is fine with me,” said one. “Hitler should have killed all the Jews,” said another.

Legal Scholar Lesley Klaff to Join Brandeis Blog

We’re delighted to welcome English legal scholar Lesley Klaff to the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog.  Klaff, who is also a member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Legal Advisory Board, will give an international perspective to the Blog, which thus far has featured bloggers from the United States and Canada.  Klaff’s expertise ranges from legal…

Historian Harold Brackman to Guest Blog on BDS and Other Topics

On Thursday, I blogged very briefly about the Simon Wiesenthal’s interesting new report on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.  SWC’s report really deserves more attention, so I am pleased to announce that its author, Dr. Harold Brackman, has agreed to join us as a guest blogger over the next couple of weeks.  Dr. Brackman will blog on the SWC report, the BDS movement, and other topics that I am sure that our readers will find informative and interesting.