March 30, 2013

UCU Tribunal: What about the MPs, John Mann and Denis MacShane?

I don't know whether it was Ronnie Fraser's or Anthony Julius's idea to run with two MPs, John Mann and Dr Denis MacShane, the latter of whom is so discredited he is no longer an MP.  But let's see what the Employment Tribunal had to say about Mann and MacShane.

Their first mention is in Complaint 2:
Complaint (2): The Respondents' response to the report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism
77 The Inquiry was commissioned by Mr John Mann MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, and a witness before us. A cross-party committee of MPs ('the Committee') chaired by the Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane, also a witness before us, was appointed and began work in 2005. It reported in September 2006.
78 The report runs to over 50 pages plus appendices. We will not attempt to summarise it but it may help to note certain features. In the first place, the Committee found that anti-Semitism was on the rise. The new trend appeared to be largely associated with the politics of the Middle East and in particular the Arab/Israeli conflict. The report concluded that the correlation between conflict in the Middle East and attacks on members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom must be better understood and that academic research in that area would be welcomed (para 110). The Committee appeared to accept that criticism of Israel or Zionism was not "necessarily" anti-Semitic but added that the converse was also true: " ... it is never acceptable to mask hurtful racial generalisations by claiming the right to legitimate political discourse".
79 Dealing with evidence about anti-Semitism in the academic sphere, the Committee found:
We conclude that Jewish students feel disproportionately threatened in British universities as a result of anti-Semitic activities which vary from campus to campus. Attacks on Jewish students and their halls of residence, and a lack of respect shown for observant Jewish students and their calendar requirements amount to a form of campus anti-Semitism which Vice-Chancellors should tackle vigorously. While criticism of Israel - often hard-hitting in the rough and tumble of student politics - is legitimate, the language of some speakers crosses the line into generalised attacks on Jews.
80 At paras 206-213, the Committee addressed the question of academic boycotts. It noted the motions passed at the annual conference of AUT in 2005 proposing the boycott of two Israeli universities. It also referred to a motion at the NATFHE conference of May 2006 calling on members to boycott all Israeli academics. The Committee perceived, and criticised, the "singling out" of Israel for boycotting purposes. Evidence given by Dr Jon Pike (also a witness for the Claimant before us) was quoted with apparent approval. Dr Pike was a leading member of 'Engage' an anti-boycott organisation. This section of the report ended as follows (para 213):
We conclude that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that lecturers in the New University and College Lecturers Union (sic) are given every support to combat such collective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. We would urge the new union's executive and leadership to oppose the boycott.
81 The Committee heard oral evidence over four days in February and March 2006. Those who gave evidence included the Chief Rabbi, the Home Secretary, a senior police officer, the Attorney-General, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Dr Brian Klug (an Oxford academic with special expertise in the area of anti-Semitism) and Dr Pike, to whom we have already referred. The Committee also received evidence in writing from a wide range of sources including several Jewish organisations, political parties, the Commission for Racial Equality, embassies of six countries including Israel and the United States of America and eminent individuals including Mr Howard Jacobson, the well-known author (whose evidence we read in these proceedings). The list of those who supplied written evidence also includes AFI and Engage.
82 NATFHE supplied written evidence to the Inquiry. AUT did not. Ms Hunt was General Secretary of AUT at the time. She told us without challenge that her union was not asked to comment on the academic boycott issue or notified that the Committee was interested in that particular topic.
83 The Respondents had come into existence by the date of publication of the Committee's findings. They decided to respond to the report. Before doing so, they requested a meeting with the parliamentarians and as a result an appointment was fixed for 13 December 2006. Those present were Mr Mann, Dr MacShane, Ms Hunt and Mr Mackney, formerly General Secretary of NATFHE and by then joint General Secretary of the Respondents (a position which he continued to share with Ms Hunt until May 2007).
84 The meeting was not particularly a productive one. Ms Hunt and Mr Mackney referred to parts of the report which had described Jewish students feeling threatened on campus and explained that they wished for further information because that matter called for investigation. The parliamentarians did not provide any detail and did not genuinely respond to that inquiry at all. Mr Mann led for them and the more conciliatory tone of Dr MacShane gave way to a somewhat hostile display in which Mr Mann made no bones about his view that the union was operating in an anti-Semitic way and that those at its head must address the problem. He did not explain what the anti-Semitic behaviour was supposed to have consisted of besides referring to the boycott debate and characterising any boycott of Israel or Israeli institutions as itself anti-Semitic.
85 Following the meeting Mr Mackney drafted the Respondents' written answer to the Committee's report. He affirmed the Respondents' opposition to anti-Semitism. He was critical of what he characterised as a lack of balance in the report and questioned whether it was appropriate to take anti-Semitism as a topic in isolation, pointing out that Islamaphobia was also on the increase and suggesting that the two problems would benefit from a balanced joint approach. He referred to the evidence which had been submitted by NATFHE and observed that it would have been courteous and helpful to invite the Respondents to give oral evidence. Mr Mackney acknowledged that some groups might make criticism of Israel an excuse for anti-Semitic activity but contended that criticism of the Israeli government was not in itself anti-Semitic and argued that defenders of Israel had used the charge of anti-Semitism as a tactic to smother democratic debate and legitimate censure, citing research by Israeli journalists published in the Guardian in June 2006 to that effect. Mr Mackney reserved his most direct strictures for the recommendation concerning the boycott issue remarking:
We find this recommendation highly improper, constituting an interference in the democratic processes of our union. The UCU and its predecessors are and were democratic organisations ... the report itself struggles and fails to satisfactorily resolve the issue of whether a policy which is critical of the actions of the Israeli government is anti-Jewish in practice and this is likely to remain a highly subjective issue.
86 In January 2007 the Times Higher Education Supplement published a letter from 76 members of the Respondents, including the Claimant, attacking Mr Mackney's response to the Parliamentary Inquiry report as "evasive, disingenuous and complacent".

And what did the Tribunal think of the MPs themselves?
148......We did not derive assistance from the two Members of Parliament who appeared before us. Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions. For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti-Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, "It's clear to me where the line is ... " but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.
It's very important to note here that Denis MacShane was held not to have understood the MacPherson report.  Zionists have been trying to pass off the EUMC working definition of antisemitism as legitimate on the grounds that it allows victims to decide what is racism.  Of course, first the victims have to establish that they are indeed victims and having a state you support accused of illegal behaviours or lacking core legitimacy does not amount to victimhood.

I started by expressing surprise that the zionists ran with now ex-MP, Dr Denis MacShane.  Perhaps it's surprising that John Mann is an MP.

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