October 12, 2013

FUCU II: This Time it's Personal!

This story is a bit old now but I only discovered it this morning in a month old copy of The Jewish News.  The case is both similar to and different from FUCU I in that the case involves a complainant stretching the definition of who is a Jew and therefore what constitutes discrimination against a Jew in connection with their being Jewish but it is different in that it does involve a specific action aimed at a named individual, the complainant, Professor Moty Cristol.

Here's The Jewish News:
A judge has been warned he would release ‘a tiger’ into the legal system if an Israeli was allowed to sue one of the UK’s biggest unions for indirect discrimination.

Professor Moty Cristal, 45, an expert on conflict resolution, was formally ‘disinvited’ from a speaking event when Unison members discovered his ethnicity, Central London County Court heard.

The Jewish academic had been due to lead a session at an NHS workshop in Manchester but was told union members would refuse to if he spoke.

Professor Cristal subsequently brought an action against both the union and Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust for racial discrimination.

Unison and the Trust deny the allegation, claiming that the event was not cancelled because Professor Cristal is Israeli or Jewish, but because he had worked as an official for the Israeli government.

In response, Professor Cristal’s lawyers have lodged a claim of ‘indirect’ discrimination, alleging his right to freely associate with the Israeli government was breached.

Christopher Jeans QC, representing Unison, said that if Professor Cristal was allowed to sue on this basis, the case would become ‘completely different and much wider’.

‘No one thinks it will be an edifying experience to argue about Palestine, boycotting policies and the like. We say this a huge issue which is unsuitable to be debated in the courts. Our point is simply this: the court should be wary of releasing this tiger as an afterthought’, Mr Jeans warned.

John Hendy QC, for the Trust, said the reason Cristal had been banned from the event was because ‘he had in the past conducted negotiations on behalf of that [Israeli] government’, the court heard.

Mr Hendy defended the actions of Unison and the Trust.

‘Is it maintainable that Professor Cristal’s association with the government of Israel – namely the fact that he in the past had conducted negotiations on behalf of that government – is that an association which is protected by Article 11?’, Mr Hendy asked.

Now it looks here that Professor Cristol is trying two lines of attack. He is saying that he has been racially discriminated against on the grounds of his being Jewish or Israeli and that he is being denied his right to freely associate with the Israeli government.  Now in the first instance the finding of FUCU I 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
 is relevant here.  They might be safer with the freedom of association thing.  It's certainly less tenuous but do people have freedom to associate with a rogue state and not be excluded from equal opportunities environments because of that association?  And if they can, why did Cristol's lawyers lead on the racial discrimination argument?

We'll know soon enough.

PS: Still no sign of Anthony Julius.  I wonder why they didn't use him...

PPS: Actually there has been a sighting of Anthony Julius.  See last week's Jewish Chronicle


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