March 30, 2013

Zionist reactions to the UCU Tribunal ruling

Well the reaction of zionists to the recent Employment Tribunal ruling has been mostly silent.  The case was formally called Fraser vs The University and College Union. The judgment is as follows:

(1)        The Claimant's complaints of unlawful harassment are not well-founded.

(2)        Save in so far as they are based on acts or omissions which occurred on or after 26 May 2011, the Claimant's complaints of unlawful harassment are in any event outside the Tribunal's jurisdiction.

(3)        Accordingly, the proceedings are dismissed.

Ok, got that? See number 1.  The complaints are not well-founded.  That is, the substance is not well-founded.  It is not a legal point, it is a factual point.  Number 2 is a legal point.  It relates to the fact that the Complainant and his lawyer and their witnesses took too long to concoct the complaint.  That you might call technical/procedural but it doesn't matter because the substantive point is that "The Claimant's complaints of unlawful harassment are not well-founded."  So even if they had have got their act together in time they still wouldn't have fallen at the hurdle of the case having to have some merit. This one had none.

The former anti-zionist, Ben Cohen, in Commentary Magazine, doesn't seem to have quite taken that on board:
Why did the Fraser case collapse in such spectacular fashion? In part, the problems were technical and procedural; several passages in the verdict argued that the UCU’s officers were not themselves responsible for the specific instances of anti-Semitism Fraser’s complaints highlighted, while another lazily bemoaned the “gargantuan scale” of the case, asserting that it was wrong of Julius and Fraser to abuse the “limited resources” of the “hard-pressed public service” that is a British employment tribunal. The verdict also contained extraordinary personal attacks on the integrity of Fraser’s witnesses, among them Jewish communal leader Jeremy Newmark and Labor Party parliamentarian John Mann, and even insinuated that the plain-speaking Fraser was unwittingly being used as a vassal by the articulate and florid Julius!
Far from focusing on "technical and procedural" issues, the report is remarkably easy to read as it focuses mainly on the substantive, that is factual issues.  As for, "lazily"  referencing the ""gargantuan scale" of the case", the judges were anything but lazy.  They read through everything, discussed everything and even listened to recordings of union proceedings.  The reference to the "gargantuan scale" of the proceedings was one of the reports many humourous asides.

It's not just Ben Cohen trying to make out that this was something something technical rather than an utter humiliation for Israel lobbyists and hobbyists in the UK.  Sarah Annes Brown of Harry's Place tweeted thus:

She went on to cite what the Tribunal report suggested was the only one of ten claims to have any substance at all, the Masuku affair, and then conflated that with the UCU's repudiation of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism:
So, let's have a look at how the report deals with the Masuku affair:
Complaint (5): The Bongani Masuku affair including his invitation, the fall-out from that invitation, his conduct and the aftermath of his visit

110 As mentioned above, at the 2009 Congress a motion (Motion 29) was passed which required the Respondents to host an autumn international inter-union conference of BDS supporters. An invitation only conference was arranged for 5 December 2009. The Claimant was not among the invitees. In October 2009 invitations were sent out to various organisations including COSATU (see para 71). They were not sent to individuals; organisations were invited to identify proposed representatives whom they wished to send. On 2 November COSATU advised the Respondents that they wished to send Mr Bongani Masuku, their International Relations Secretary, and another named individual. The Respondents then issued personal invitations to both. By 24 November it had been agreed that Mr Masuku would be one of the speakers at the conference and would address the subject of BDS with reference to apartheid era South Africa and current political realities in Israel. 

111 On 30 November 2009 the Claimant sent an e-mail to Mr Waddup enquiring about plans for the conference. Mr Waddup replied on 2 December and confirmed that the event was proceeding as had been reported in the Morning Star (from where the Claimant had picked up the story, and which had named Mr Masuku as one of the billed speakers). 

112 At just after 3.00 pm on 3 December 2009 the Claimant sent an e-mail to Ms Hunt, copied to Mr Waddup, alleging that Mr Masuku had made inflammatory statements against the South African Jewish community which were under consideration by the South African Human Rights Commission ('SAHRC'). He described Mr Masuku as a racist and asked Ms Hunt to clarify whether he was scheduled to attend and, if so, urging her to withdraw his invitation. 

113 Mr Waddup attempted to find out more. He found some evidence on the Engage website and at least one other website with similar sympathies, tending to support the Claimant's allegation. He was unable to ascertain from the SAHRC any information other than that the case of Mr Masuku was awaiting adjudication. Mr Waddup advised Ms Hunt that she should not respond to the Claimant's message. 

114 In fact, on 3 December 2009, SAHRC issued a 'Finding' to Mr Masuku, upholding a complaint by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies that statements made by him in February and March the same year amounted to hate speech. He was offered the option of settling the matter amicably by tendering an apology to the complainants within 14 days and notified that failing that, the matter would be referred to the relevant 'Equality Court' for final adjudication without further notice. 

115 At just after midnight on the morning of 4 December 2009 the Claimant sent a further e-mail to Ms Hunt, this time stating that the SAHRC had "unequivocally" found that statements made by Mr Masuku amounted to hate speech. He attached links to the Engage website and another with similar sympathies. 

116 COSATU issued a press statement strongly challenging the SAHRC 'Finding'. It also promised an appeal. The Respondents received a copy on 5 December, before the conference began. 

117 The conference proceeded. Mr Masuku spoke. The event was unremarkable and it was not suggested that anything improper was said or done. 

118 In the event, Mr Masuku's appeal failed: it was rejected on procedural grounds, having been presented out of time. 

119 As we have mentioned (para 71), the subject of Mr Masuku was raised at the 2010 Congress, when a motion referring to his allegedly anti-Semitic utterances and proposing that Congress dissociate itself from his "repugnant views" was put to the vote but lost.

See how the report dealt with that in paragraph 170:
The fact that Mr Masuku was alleged to have made anti-Semitic comments was certainly the context in which the question of possible revocation of Mr Masuku's invitation arose, but those alleged remarks were neither the reason, nor a reason, for the decision not to revoke the invitation. Nor was the Claimant's race or religion. We are quite satisfied that a guest of the union accused in like circumstances at the eleventh hour of hate speech allegedly directed at some other racial or religious group (or any other protected category) would have been treated exactly as Mr Masuku was. The union would have decided against the drastic measure of withdrawing the invitation at the last minute on the strength of an (apparently) strongly challenged allegation.
Now let's have a look at the bit of the report which deals with the repudiation by the UCU of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism:
Complaint (9): The rejection of the EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism 

134 We have already referred to Motion 70 passed at the 2011 Congress (see our findings under complaint (1) above). The motion was democratically passed in accordance with the Respondents' rules. Jewish members spoke for and against the motion.
Let's just see how this was dealt with by the Tribunal:

166   In respect of complaint (9) the Claimant again fails to make out any arguable complaint of 'unwanted' conduct against the Respondents. There was a debate, constitutionally managed by them, which culminated in the vote to reject the EUMC Working Definition. It was open to Congress to consider that motion. Its legality was not in question. The vote was valid and the outcome was the product of the union's democratic processes. The 'unwanted' conduct was that of the members who proposed and supported the motion and Congress as a whole which passed it. As we have already explained, no claim lies against the Respondents in respect of these actions. Nor was the Respondents' conduct 'related to' the Claimant's protected characteristics [my emphasis]. Nor did their conduct produce the prescribed effect upon him. Nor would it have been reasonable for it to do so. And even if the Claimant could base his complaint on the decision of Congress to pass the motion and even if that decision produced the prescribed effect on him, it would not be reasonable for it to have done so. Our comments on context and human rights in relation to complaint (1) are repeated, mutatis mutandis.

It's very strange that Sarah links the Masuku affair of 2010 to the repudiation of the EUMC working definition a year later.  They clearly have nothing to do with each other.  Is she saying that if the union adopted the working definition they wouldn't have invited Masuku?  If that's the case, she should know that if they adopted the working definition they couldn't publicly criticise Israel at all, which is the point of the working definition.

But let's look at this "protected characteristics" thing:
Protected characteristics 
150 It seems to us that a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness and, even if it was, it could not be substituted for the pleaded characteristics, which are race and religion or belief. Accordingly, if and in so far as the Claimant seeks to base his claim on what might be termed a sub-characteristic (we are bound to say that we remain uncertain as to Mr Julius's position on this point), we find that it is not open to him to do so. A separate matter, which we will address in relation to the individual claims, is whether the treatment complained of, or any of it, was 'related to' his Jewish race or his Jewish religion or belief.
Good stuff.  Jews aren't necessarily zionists and even if they were why should that characteristic be protected?  Which leads us into the reaction of the man himself, Ronnie Fraser, which was issued via Scholars for Peace in the Middle East which I think roughly translated means academics who want Iran bombed and Palestinians ethnically cleansed, but that's just me.  Here's poor Ron:
I am naturally disappointed by the decision of the Employment Tribunal to dismiss my claim of harassment against the University and College Union (UCU).  I am however very grateful that the hearing provided us with the opportunity to raise and discuss in great detail the issues of discrimination and antisemitism which are so important to Anglo Jewry.

I believe that the many witnesses we called were able to provide evidence to the tribunal of an intolerable atmosphere over a number of years and that the UCU did nothing to stop these institutionally anti-Semitic acts taking place.

Having read the judgment there are two points which greatly concern me. The first is "a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel cannot amount to a protected  characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness..." (para 150). For the court to say that as Jews we do not have an attachment to Israel is disappointing considering we have been yearning for Israel for 2000 years and it has been in our prayers all that time. The second point highlighted the need for Anglo-Jewry to urgently adopt and publicise its own definition of antisemitsm. 

As a member of the Board of Deputies I intend to campaign for us as a community to accept a definition of Jewishness which includes a connection with Israel and the adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism.

I would like to thank my wife, my family, my witnesses, and all those who supported my action both from within the Jewish community and elsewhere for their incredible support and understanding over the last two years.

I would also like to thank my solicitor Anthony Julius and all the staff of Mishcon De Reya for all their magnificent work and support.

Note:  The Employment Tribunal  judgment can be found here;

Now Ben Cohen and Sarah Annes Brown were probably smarter pretending there were technical issues involved in the case. Ronnie Fraser is here suggesting that support for colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws are part and parcel of Jewishness or the Jewish identity.  The problem there of course is that in order to protect this supposed characteristic of Jews one has to support or tolerate the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. This means that to be anti-racist you would have to be antisemitic or in order not to be antisemitic you would have to be a racist, in this instance, a zionist.

Other zionists have also attacked the substance of the report, of course, without going into any specific detail.  Dr Hirsh of Israel advocates, Engage and BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), on his facebook page has accused the Tribunal itself of being antisemitic:
Ronnie said that the key mode of intimidation in the UCU was this constant allegation of bad faith - the allegation that Jews who say they feel antisemitism are actually lying for Israel.

The Tribunal says that the Jews who say they feel antisemitism are actually lying for Israel.

That which Ronnie experiences as antisemitism is what the Tribunal finds to be precisely the right and courageous way to treat him.
That's a strange spin given that Ronnie Fraser was one of the few witnesses for the zionist side who the Tribunal described as sincere:
147 The Claimant impressed us as a sincere witness
 In fairness, they did qualify this:
Although his sincerity is not in question, his political experience showed at a number of points. He veered away from awkward questions. We were also struck by the contrast between his simple, down-to-earth style and the magnificent prose in which his written case was couched. We do not believe that it would ever occur to him to think that as a member of the Respondents he inhabits an environment of "thickening toxicity"
 But nowhere do they suggest that he is claiming antisemitism because he is lying for Israel.  Why does Dr Hirsh believe that to be the case?

Other zionist responses were nuttier still.

Jewish former anti-zionist, David Toube, had this to say on Dr Hirsh's facebook page:
David Toube You can't win political battles by litigation. If judges think that Jews are sneaky and whining and powerful, there's no law you can pass to change that.
Ok, Toube is another one who can find antisemitism in a smoked salmon beigel but look what he says next:
Demographically Jews are a small minority. They're beset by an intense fascination, which sometimes manifests as philia and sometimes as hatred. They keep their heads down, because they correctly realise that this is a wise thing to do, and historically always has been. There is no prospect at all of the sort of frightening militancy from Jews that has achieved both respect and mistrust, when deployed by other groups. 
So what then?  And this is where Jonathan Hoffman joins the fray:

  • Jonathan Hoffman "You can't win political battles by litigation" You simply don't get it. It's about racism not 'politics'. you're making the same error as the tribunal.
  • David Toube Argue all you want about it - the point isn't what two Jews happen to think about definitions or strategy. It is irrelevant. This is NOT something that Jews can do anything about. You could have unanimity, dissent - this isn't about Jews Views. It is about Views on Jews.

  • Jonathan Hoffman So Jews are powerless. Good job Herzl, Weizmann and Ben Gurion didn't agree.

  • David Toube Like Herzl, Weizmann and Ben Gurion, I recommend that Jews who want to stand and fight against antisemitism, emigrate to Israel. Those who want to get by elsewhere, should - and usually do - keep their heads down.

So is Toube heading for the South Hebron Hills or is he keeping his head down? He calls himself Lucy Lips these days on Harry's Place and, as far as I know he still lives in London so I suppose he must be keeping his head down.  How many corporate lawyers can a small state like Israel need? We've even got too many in London.

I'm sure more zionists will rear their heads on this in the coming days and weeks.  They have two ways to go.  The "unmeritorious" claim failed on a technicality or the Tribunal was antisemitic.  Of course neither are true but this is the zionist movement we're talking about and there's still no such thing as an honest zionist.

Meanwhile, where is Anthony Julius?  And where is the mainstream media on this? So far no word from The Guardian. What's all that about?

No comments:

Post a Comment