April 03, 2013

UCU Tribunal: Zionists try three approaches - All bogus

Well I'm sure that there'll be more zionist takes on the Fraser v UCU Employment Tribunal disaster that befell them but three approaches seem to have emerged since publication of the damning report.

First out of the traps, I believe, was David Hirsh on Facebook, claiming that the Tribunal itself was antisemitic.  Looking at the comments on that page and on his more recent Engage piece, that argument does have some traction among zionists.  Lesley Klaff, apparently a leading "lawfare" advocate, also claims the Tribunal was antisemitic.

I have already posted on Sarah Annes Brown's attempt to pass the disaster off as some kind of technical issue.  She's also recently tried to make out that the Tribunal "judged [Palestine solidarity activists]  unfit to recognise racism".  I'm not sure if she was joking or lying but it is always hard to tell with her.

Paul Usiskin of some zionist "left" group in the UK posted another "we wuz robbed" piece in The Daily Beast's Open Zion slot.  Some wag on twitter calls Open Zion, Openly Zionist.  If you read Paul Usiskin's piece you'll see why.

But now there has been another entrant into the contest.  David Newman, writing in the Jerusalem Post, didn't even mention the technicalities involved.  I've seen his stuff before and he does seem to value his integrity more highly than your average zionist.  He does flirt with the idea of the UCU being antisemitic:
But equally, not every case of anti-Israel sentiment can be attributed to anti-semitism, and we have to be very careful not to throw the anti-semitism argument back in the face of every organization and every individual who are critical of Israeli government policy. When we do so, we cheapen anti-semitism and make it all the more difficult to garner support for the fight against real, hard core, anti-semitism when it occurs – and occur it does, all too often – even at universities.

The forthcoming 4th International Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, to be held in Jerusalem at the end of May and jointly organized by the Ministries for Public Diplomacy and for Diaspora Affairs, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has a chance to seriously examine this topic. However, based on past conferences and looking at the all too familiar line up of professional anti-semitism fighters, this conference will not offer any significant new insights. The conference will be used, yet again, as an excuse for crying on each others' shoulder, and bashing the entire world for being anti-semitic. There will be no attempt to differentiate between legitimate criticism of Israel (even amongst its friends) and anti-semitism, and it will provide little in the way of any serious introspection as to how the world should be dealing with the issue of anti-semitism, beyond the context of criticism of Israel.
So what was wrong with the Tribunal?
There is one sentence in the ruling which raises serious questions concerning the intelligence or understanding of the tribunal members. They write: "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). The use of the term "Zionist project" is highly prejudiced from the outset. It is a term which is used by those who are highly critical of Zionism as an ideology of national liberation. It is a value loaded term which would indicate the political positions of those who use it. Equally, the idea that some form of Zionist attachment – be it of the far left pro-peace camp, or the right wing pro-settlement proponents, be it a secular Zionism or one deeply rooted in religion - is not an intrinsic part of Jewish identity and behavior for well over 95 percent of the global Jewish population, would indicate a prior prejudice, or simple ignorance, on their part.
So there's the third tack.  Failing to take into account that, according to the writer, most Jews support a state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws and that therefore, zionism should be considered an intrinsic aspect of the Jewish identity, indeed, under UK and other law, a "protected characteristic".  So we end where we began.  If zionism is taken to be intrinsic to the Jewish identity, then opposition to zionism could be judged to be precisely the same thing as antisemitism.

It's this third approach that is the most insidious and dangerous. It ties in with the so-called EUMC working definition of antisemitism and I suspect it is the reason that no one has so far mentioned this case in the mainstream media.  And none of the zionist big guns have said anything about it.  Even Anthony Julius has gone to ground.  I suspect that gradually hasbara journalists will mention, as if in passing, the failure of British justice in this case, maybe whilst dealing with a genuine case of harassment or of antisemitism or of some other form of racism.  But if zionists are going to mis-define antisemitism they will have to mis-define Jews.  That would be damaging for a time to both Jews and to Palestinians and their supporters.

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