May 29, 2014

Another FUCU Case Averted?

Well it certainly looks like it.

A couple of years ago, almost exactly, Moty Cristol, according to Martin Bright in The Jewish Chronicle (August 23, 2012):

an Israeli conflict resolution expert and peace activist with a track record of negotiating at a high level with Jordanian and Palestinian officials, was due to speak at an NHS conference in Manchester to advise health service managers and trade union officials.
However his invitation was revoked following objections from the trade union, Unison.  Closer to the time, ie, April 2012, the Anshell Pfeffer reported in the JC (April 30, 2012) Unison's explanation for the decision:
Explaining the decision, Mr Nelson said: "It was considered that the decision to invite a prominent Israeli negotiator would be unacceptable given UNISON and TUC policy on the Middle East conflict, the irrelevance of the speaker to working relationships within a local NHS Trust and the inappropriateness of funding an international speaker at times of such austerity, when front line staff in the trust are at risk of redundancy."
By November of 2012 Martin Bright in was reporting in the JC (November 8, 2012) that:
Unison, the partner organisation for the seminar, told the NHS Trust that its members would not take part in anything run by the Israeli academic
and that Mr Cristol would now be suing Manchester Health Trust:
Prof Cristal flew to London to talk to lawyers about taking legal action. It now looks likely that the case against Manchester NHS Trust and Unison will be heard in a county court.

Prof Cristal told reporters: “I came here to assess the legal situation. Now I am even more convinced that I am going to pursue the action in the county court.
Significantly it didn't report in that piece on the explanation given by Unison for the disinvitation.  It did however state what it was that Moty Cristol wanted to achieve from his action:

“It is the right thing to do to fight the delegitimisation movement. I was boycotted because I am an Israeli. As a negotiator, I will pursue the action until a decent offer is put on the table”.

He wanted two things, he said: “Public acknowledgement of the wrongdoing of discrimination against me as an Israeli — and the public assurance that this will not be repeated.”
It appears he wasn't boycotted for being an Israeli.  Rather it appears he was boycotted because he is a high profile representative of the Israeli state, now in academia.  And note he is not simply claiming to seek a remedy for anything he has lost but to "fight the delegitimisation movement".  Some people make bones over this.  Some say you can't delegitimise an illegitimate state others say we must deligitimise a state that does after all have international recognition via the UN.  Still others, say we mustn't try or even give the impression that want to delegitimise Israel because its status at the UN is sacrosanct.  I'm with the bunch that says Israel's has no legitimacy but just in case it has then delegitimisation is a perfectly, well, legitimate goal.

But note also that he is saying he wants the Manchester Health Trust to say it did wrong and that it won't do it again.  Note further there is no mention of money.

Anyway, now (today, May 29, 2014) the JC's Marcus Dysch is reporting that Mr Cristol has dropped his action against the Manchester Health Trust:
An Israeli conflict resolution expert has dropped his legal case against a health trust which he claimed had discriminated against him.

Moty Cristal had been seeking damages totalling £26,500 and an apology from Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust after it cancelled a workshop he was due to run for its staff in 2012.
So he wanted £26,500 and a sorry from the aforementioned Trust. I wonder where Dysch got his information from.  Clearly, sensibly, he doesn't rely on the JC.  The article sets out why the case has been dropped:
He [Moty Cristol] said: "I made this decision since the goals that I first set out to achieve have broadly been met. My primary goal was to establish that I had been unfairly treated and discriminated against as an Israeli negotiator."

He said he had received a letter from the health trust’s chief executive apologising for cancelling the lecture. But he originally said he wanted “Public acknowledgement of the wrongdoing of discrimination against me as an Israeli — and the public assurance that this will not be repeated.”  Remember?  He didn't get either of those.  Nor did he get that £26.5 k.

But a more significant aspect might be this:
The JC understands his supporters — including the Jewish Leadership Council — had been prepared to continue backing him, but the court’s initial warnings relating to costs and the likelihood of success had eventually led to his decision to withdraw.
So the JLC was going to continue backing him in his pursuit of public redress plus £26.5 k but he had the magnanimity to withdraw because he didn't want the JLC being stung for costs?  That really doesn't seem likely.  It seems more likely that the JLC told him his cause was hopeless and they were damned if they were picking up the tab especially with the costs of the FUCU disaster possibly still hanging over them.  Or it could be that the JLC really was going to pick up the tab in another fruitless cause but Moty Cristol didn't want to waste his time and face the same humiliation that Ronnie Fraser has gone through.

But Marcus Dysch's conclusion is both interesting and encouraging to those of us who support BDS:
His move also appears to support the belief within the community that the JLC and other organisations will take a new approach to countering boycotters and groups opposed to Israel, using discourse rather than legal process.
 So it appears that lawfare is being quietly dropped and BDS is going from strength to strength.

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