April 23, 2013

Ask the QC about FUCU

Finally, the Jewish Chronicle article I posted about yesterday, you know, the one that was only online in pdf newspaper format, has gone online in normal website type format.  Is that html?  I don't know. It's titled Why the Ronnie Fraser case against the UCU was a legal and public relations disaster. and it's from the Ask the QC section of the JC.

As I've already posted on this I was going to just run my favourite bits but as I read through it again all sorts of questions ran through my mind.  So here's the whole thing:
Rebecca from Finchley writes: I was furious to read your comment last week that bringing the Ronnie Fraser harassment case against the University College Union was “an act of epic folly”. Surely it was high time the Anglo-Jewish community stood up for its rights, win or lose?
Rebecca, I am unrepentant in my view that bringing the Ronnie Fraser litigation was a legal and public relations disaster. All those concerned should first have reminded themselves of the rabbinical saying that “All Israel is accountable one for the other.”
It was misconceived in law, wasted a fortune in legal costs (rumoured in legal circles to be over £500,000) but worst of all showed no Jewish seichel or streetsmarts whatsoever. (Where did that money come from? I only heard about £50k and £70k)
You only litigate such hotly contentious matters if you are being dragged to court as the defendant and thus have no choice, or if, as claimant, you are sure to win. This case sent out the worst possible message to our many hate-filled enemies, namely that rich Jews threw huge resources at a failed attempt to stifle free speech. The result was entirely predictable and had been anticipated by several wise legal heads.(Well presumably there were rich Jews throwing huge resources at a failed attempt to stifle free speech but since many of the Palestine solidarity activists in the UCU are Jewish, I don't think they'll bring the Jewishness of the mystery donors into it)
Those who now react to this defeat with sour grapes should more carefully study the judgment, which even an old warhorse like me had to read three times for all the nuances. See http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/media/judgments/2013/fraser-uni-college-unio....
From a lawyer’s point of view, it is impeccably written and all too compelling. I cannot see any viable appeal arising from it and I would predict further damage and ignominious failure if such were attempted.
I do not accept that the court was antisemitic, as Dr David Hirsh and others have insinuated. Should Jews now be whiners who cannot admit we fought the wrong battle and miscalculated badly? (ah but Mr  Goldberg doesn't understand the political stakes. The court actually stated the obvious.  The court merely said what the Palestine solidarity activists were arguing all along. So what could Hirsh et al do? Own up to bad faith allegations of antisemitism? There was of course another path open to them, the technicality path tried by Paul Usiskin at Open Zion and Sarah Annes Brown at Harry's Place but their dishonesty is as transparent as Hirsh's, just not as ludicrous.)
Do those who so rashly suggest on such shaky foundations that an English court was antisemitic have any conception of the damage they are doing to our community thereby? (I don't think the courts will judge the whole Jewish community by the bogus reasoning and grandstanding of a bunch of chancers but Goldberg's the QC, not me)
Of the 10 factual complaints brought by Mr Fraser against the union, all but one were found to be unmeritorious after an exhaustive 20-day evidential investigation, with detailed reasons being given as to why the court rejected them. And even that one was brought out of time.
A main premise underpinning the claim — that the union was responsible in law for anti-Israel views promulgated by individual members in its annual congresses and in-house internet chatroom — was held wrong in law. (But it was only an error in law.  I wouldn't have known that and I don't think it would be obvious to everyone that things happening under the auspices of a union aren't the responsibility of the union.) Nor was that by any means the only error of law.(Nor was it the only issue period.) 
The underlying notion that a commitment to Zionism should be a “protected characteristic” in English employment law was in my view almost as fanciful as suggesting that supporting Tottenham Hotspur should be a protected characteristic, because so many Jews do so.(I've often said similar, at least I used to want to ask if it's antisemitic to not like smoked salmon beigels.  I'll use the Tottenham Hotspur argument now.  But this does blow the bogus concept of the "new antisemitism" away. Some zionists try to attach the more obvious forms of antisemitism to arguments against zionism but what they've been trying on for some decades now is the argument that simply opposing the State of Israel is antisemitic)
Who is qualified to say, unless they sat through the 20 days of evidence, that the particular criticisms made of the evidence of Jeremy Newmark and two MPs were not reasonable. And just as important, why did Mr Newmark and the others ever voluntarily place themselves in a position to be so criticised in support of a claim brought on such dubious legal foundations?(Regarding the MPs this is important.  Mann claimed to know where the line was between criticism of Israel and antisemitism. The judgment noted with a sneer that he was unable to locate the line for the Tribunal. Other witnesses couldn't agree on what amounted to antisemitism with regard to criticism of the State of Israel.  Fraser said that calling Israel an apartheid state was antisemitic whilst Mr Whine of the CST said it wasn't.  The dismissal of Denis MacShane's evidence was important too. He tried to use the MacPherson Report to support Fraser's case but the judgment said that MacShane didn't understand MacPherson.  The MacPherson Report arising out of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry has been used by many Zionists to justify the working definition of antisemitism.  See Gabriel Ash on this. Suffice to say, this judgment should blow the whole shebang away, the Zionist abuse of the Macpherson Report, the so-called EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antsemitism.
So much for the MPs. What about Newmark?  What possessed him to lie to a court about an incident involving himself?  He's the CEO of a group, the Jewish Leadership Council, many see as the main liaison between the organised Jewish community and the British public at large.  He is now claiming that the judgment was a travesty. Does he mean about him?  The judges said that "truthful witnesses" exposed him as a liar. Is he calling these "truthful witnesses" liars?  Another question about Jeremy Newmark is how come he is still the CEO of the JLC?  Is there no disciplinary procedure?  Does the JLC approve of lying about antisemitism? Is this how it works?  Shocking! Not!)
And why should the court be criticised, as so many have done in this newspaper, for saying “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.”
The critics have chosen to take five words out of context from this much longer passage in order to condemn the court for allegedly not recognising the attachment between the Jewish religion and Israel. (Writers in the JC have taken words out of context to alter their meaning? Surely not! Has the editor, Stephen Pollard, read the judgment and some of the ludicrous articles appearing under his watch and given more prominence on line than this one?)
In context, the court was saying no more than that an attachment to the modern State of Israel (“modern” is important here) is not intrinsic to Jewishness. And that is surely correct.
I yield to nobody in my love for Israel and my support for Zionism. But who can ignore the stark fact that many fellow Jews, including, for example, certain Israeli academics and at least one sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews, are among Israel’s most rabid detractors, whereas many gentiles are fervent Zionists (Lord bless them).(Well not a nice way of putting it but I've always thought that an insidious form of antisemitism is the smearing of Jewish anti-Zionists as being somehow unJewish.  I won't and I don't say that Jews can't be antisemitic but when so many of us refuse to identify ourselves with such a criminally racist project as the Zionist project or the State of Israel who can say that Zionism is part of the Jewish identity?  And that's without getting into the thousands of years when there was no such thing as Zionism)
Why was not a fraction of these legal resources used instead to bring a private prosecution against those activists who disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Batsheva Dance Company?(I suppose that's up to the people stumping up the resources whoever they are.)
Such cases would almost certainly have succeeded. Having recently attended the stellar AIPAC conference in Washington, Rebecca, I have to say this debacle would never have happened in America.(Actually something slightly similar did occur in America but Zionism is better organised there and to the Zionist movement's chagrin, anti-Zionists are better organised here.  This means that Zionists don't have to resort to the courts there whereas in the case of the UCU they thought they had no choice here. If they did have to resort to the courts in the USA who knows what might happen?)
Unlike in the UK, communal organisations there are not constantly jockeying with one another for power and prestige — and the left hand actually does know what the right is doing.(See what I mean, they're better organised there than here.  But where are they going to go now?  Get rid of Newmark? Get rid of Julius? Get rid of the bogus allegation of antisemitism?)
All sorts of possibilities but the bogus allegation has certainly been dealt a body blow as some rare honest Zionists are starting to realise.

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