Sunday 11 June 2017

I fear for the future but the future has arrived.

Labour’s success at the recent General election has produced various analyses, the most pertinent so far I have seen has come from Stephen Pollard, who writing in the Daily Telegraph, wrote that the millions of people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn, a man who tolerates antisemitic hatred, scares him because the wall to wall coverage of the Labour leader’s views and alliances with Hamas, the IRA, Stop the War as well as antisemitism in the Labour Party in the election campaign had no effect on the final outcome. 

It is not as if people, young in particular didn’t know. Many of the constituencies which swung to Labour and Corbyn in particular were university towns like Canterbury. These are not uneducated people, the very opposite in fact, these are educated University students, who while admittedly would like a ‘no fee ‘education are intelligent to know that Corbyn’s sums don’t add up.

I have been working within my union, the University and Lecturers Union (UCU) since 2002 trying (and failing) to stop the pro-Hamas, pro-BDS, and anti-Israel rhetoric. The UCU disagreed that our definition of antisemitsim, which is now called the IHRA definition was the ‘real deal’ and substituted a mishmash of platitudes, which they have no intention of acting upon anyway since they hold similar views to Jeremy Corbyn especially when it comes to Israel and Hamas.  

What has worried me and I have said it many times is that the young people at Universities whose lecturers peddle falsehoods about Israel are infecting the politics of Britain which will lead to an increase in antisemitsim.  How right I was, these young people at our universities who man the anti-Israel mock wall during ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ with pretend guns, dressed in battle fatigues pretending to hold ‘poor Palestinians’ at ‘mock gunpoint’ are now saying ‘yeh, Jezza, lets overturn the stale boring Tory politicians and grab the future’ Of course Jezza didn’t do it on his own, he had Teresa May helping him by denying older wiser people their triple lock pensions as well the ‘dementia tax’ - together they have made very worrying times ahead.

One final thought, I have frequently said that the current generation of students are being brought up on a diet of ‘Israel is a racist apartheid state’ and that we will have a problem in 20 years’ time when they will be in positions of power and influence as the opinions and attitudes they form now will be with them for the rest of their lives.  Clearly I was wrong because they are already influencing our lives right now, this week. Can we change things or is it already too late?

Dr. Ronnie Fraser


Academic Friends of Israel

Thursday 27 April 2017

UCU can’t reject antisemitism definition and claim to be anti-racist

The British Government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy for our schools and universities defines extremism as: “Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”

Next month the University and College Lecturers Union (UCU) will debate at its annual congress a motion re-affirming ‘the UCU’s condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination’ as well as congratulating the UCU on its “exemplary anti-racist work”It then “resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism”.

They can’t have their cake and eat it: on the one hand they say they oppose racism and then pat themselves on the back for all their good work and immediately follow it up with “We don’t want to have anything to do with the IHRA definition” which has been adopted by the British government in the fight against antisemitism.

This is hypocritical extremist and racist behaviour which shows no respect and tolerance for the views of British Jewry. The union should be ashamed.

This offensive anti-Israel, anti-Zionist behaviour is nothing new to the UCU or its predecessor unions NATFHE and the AUT, which were first warned 15 years ago by the Board of Deputies that “those who engage in anti-Israel rhetoric should have regard to the anti-Semitic consequences.”

Since 2007 the UCU has adopted 24 resolutions which have criticised the actions of the State of Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians.These motions have focused mainly on the academic boycott of Israel and BDS, several of which were declared void and of no effect due to legal advice the union received. In 2011 the union caused a great storm of protest when Congress overwhelming voted to disassociate itself from the EUMC working definition of antisemitsim.

The UCU has an unenviable record as no other trade union in the UK comes anywhere near their number of anti-Israel resolutions. There probably isn’t another union anywhere in the world that matches this total.

Over the last 10 years the ‘boycott Israel’ lobby within the union has caused the union to spend large sums of money on human resources as well as legal advice. It continues along this path like a dog with a bone and can’t let go.

I agree with the UCU when they say that in the context of ‘Prevent’, “it is perfectly legitimate to express support for Palestinian rights or to express either support for or opposition to Israel.” But this motion is not primarily about the Israel/Palestine conflict it is about the denial of Jewish human rights, the right to live without discrimination as well as our definition of antisemitsim.

If the UCU adopts this motion then it will be guilty of racism towards the Jewish people and should be labelled as such.