Posts Tagged ‘UCU’
It is slow blogging from me for a while, but I would recommend that readers take a long hard look in at Engage.
Recently they have been superb, positively on steroids with a fine bevy of posts.
I would suggest that members of the University and College Union read and think about James Mendelsohn’s resignation letter to Sally Hunt, which I produce in full:
Thank you for your message.
I was happy to sign the petition of no confidence in the government’s HE policies and, like you, I have very serious concerns about the White Paper.
Regrettably, though, I am no longer able to join in UCU’s fight against the government’s measures. This is because I am no longer a member of UCU. Following the passing of Motion 70 at the most recent annual Congress, I felt that I had no choice but to resign. Not only does Motion 70 reject the most widely-used definition of anti-Semitism in the world, it fails to provide any alternative definition. The motives of those who proposed the motion are clear: they rightly understood that, according to the EUMC Working Definition, their obsessive campaign to single out Israeli academics for boycott year on year might indeed be anti-Semitic. Whether intentionally or otherwise, this has made UCU an even more uncomfortable place for Jewish members than it was previously. I can no longer contribute money to such an organisation in good conscience.
Please do not send me the same generic response you have sent to others who have resigned on these grounds. Sadly, your repeated claim that UCU abhors anti-Semitism is not borne out by the evidence; rather, the evidence points overwhelmingly in the other direction. For example, a union which truly abhorred anti-Semitism would have no truck with Bongani Masuku, whose statements were correctly defined as anti-Semitic hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission. UCU, by contrast, invited Masuku to promote the boycott campaign. Does that sound to you like the mark of a union which abhors anti-Semitism?
Speaking on a more personal level, I sent you three emails on related issues in 2008, which are attached. I think you would agree that a trade union which abhorred anti-Semitism would take such emails from an ordinary member seriously. Regrettably, I never received a reply to any of them.
I no longer wish to contribute my money to an organisation which has a problem with institutionalised anti-Semitism. I am sure I will not be the last Jewish member who feels forced to resign, even at a time when trade union protection and solidarity are more important than ever. Once again -please do not send me your generic reply. All I would ask you is: do you realise that the boycott campaign is now weakening the union’s numbers and credibility, at a time when a strong union is needed more than ever? And do you ever lie awake at night wondering why, in the 21st century, Jewish members have left UCU in droves?
Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Huddersfield ” [My emphasis.]
I thought I should see what others are doing:
Flesh is Grass has an important post on how the EDL managed to march, unescorted, from Redbridge to Dagenham.
Yaacov Lozowick has given up blogging. Pity, I didn’t agree with him, much, but he has a thoughtful way and articulates many intelligent ideas.
Johnny Guitar thinks about the Troubles, the Good Friday Agreement and the need for a South Africa-style truth commission, just not at the moment.
Weggis on the case against biofuels. Completely agree, it seems so questionable to use food stuff or related material as fuel for the internal combustion engine.
Harry Barnes on Sorting Out The Labour Party, which I think is very optimistic. In the short term they could ditch Ed Miliband, try to be a bit radical, really, seriously distance themselves from the skeleton of New Labour. Chance would be a fine thing.
In related news, I am not surprised that Ed Miliband is less popular than Iain Duncan Smith or William Hague, when they were in a similar position. Frankly, Miliband’s inarticulate, has the charisma of a saucer and he’s politically useless.
Jams looks at an evil cat, great photos.
Mark Gardner at the CST has a reflective post on the situation at UCU and its wider implications, From UCU to MEMO and “Israel’s British hirelings”.
Ten minutes hate on the ‘miracle villages’.
Chris Dillow considers Miliband’s power blindness.
Sorrel Moseley-Williams ponders Journalists’ Day in Argentina.
Not a blog, but worthwhile all the same. Searchlight on the BNP’s use of Facebook and Twitter.
Rosie looks at Fact and Fiction.
James Bloodworth has a couple of cracking posts, Will the Defence Secretary’s links with Sri Lanka compromise British calls for an enquiry? and Isn’t it time for an apology, Mr Chomsky?
Rebecca provides an update on the Gaza flotilla. Personally, I think the Israeli Government should allow them into Gaza with minimum fuss or hassle. I think Gazans should get as much as they can, after all living under Hamas must be terrible.
Jack of Kent looks at the arrest of blogger Jacqui Thompson and the many unanswered questions.
Greens Engage on Cynthia and Jello.
At Greater Surbiton, a guest post by David Pettigrew, Justice in Bosnia after Mladic.
Engage has an abundance of posts which should be read, just a small selection: Open antisemitism doesn’t harm your reputation, Sally Hunt pretends not to understand the term “institutional racism” and Richard Kuper on the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism (by Eve Garrard)
You might have supposed that University and College Union’s delegates at their recent Congress would have had a grasp of cause and effect (coming from the educational sector as they do), or at the very least, they should have had some sense of history, but apparently not.
When the UCU’s NEC brought forth a motion disregarding the EUMC’s working definition on antisemitism they seemed to think nothing would occur. That no one would respond. That people would not notice or care.
Because if they did appreciate the dialectic of politics, how their actions would cause immense offence and disquiet, then the UCU’s NEC would have known that consequences must surely follow from their actions.
If they knew that there would be a negative response, and as a result that trade unionism would be weakened and disparaged then the UCU’s NEC are culpable of bringing trade unionism into disrepute. They can’t have believed that this issue existed in a political vacuum. They knew what they were doing and how it would reap a detrimental reaction for trade unionism. The UCU’s NEC are, at the very least, guilty of endangering the continuation of trade unionism within further and higher education.
As the days and weeks pass that is what we are seeing. UCU members are leaving in disgust. UCU’s actions have been shown to be intellectually untenable and reprehensible in the extreme. Trade unionism and UCU has been brought into disrepute by UCU’s institutionalised racism.
“The Board of Deputies of British Jews has written to vice-chancellors urging them to consider derecognising the University and College Union if it “refuses to address claims of institutional racism”.
The UCU has been criticised by Jewish groups after delegates at its recent congress voted to reject a working definition of anti-Semitism produced by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.
The UCU motion says that the working definition “confuses criticism of Israeli government policy and actions with genuine anti-Semitism” and “is being used to silence debate about Israel and Palestine on campus”.
The motion, proposed by the UCU’s national executive committee, says the union “will make no use of the definition (eg, in educating members or dealing with internal complaints)”.
The UCU has previously attracted criticism from Jewish groups for motions proposing an academic boycott of Israel, although no such motions were raised at this year’s congress.
Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, wrote to vice-chancellors on 1 June.
“Following these developments, and in light of UCU’s history of behaviour, we now believe it to be an institutionally racist organisation,” he writes.
Mr Wineman adds that since its formation in 2006, the UCU “has been obsessed with Jews and Israel”.
The boycott debate “has poisoned the atmosphere inside UCU and led to many Jewish members feeling harassed for their beliefs and identities”, he argues.
He adds: “If UCU refuses to address claims of institutional racism, then we would ask that you reconsider whether formal union recognition…is appropriate at all”. “
I want to post on the truly appalling events at yesterday’s UCU congress, but time is short and others express themselves much better than I could:
“Quite simply, the claim that the Working Definition – when properly used – shuts down debate on Israel does not stand up to scrutiny.
The UCU, however, cannot claim to be in any doubt about the purpose of the Working Definition. The proposers of the motion have clearly read it very carefully and they know full well that it is intended to be a working guide. They just don’t agree with the content – that’s why they have dismissed it entirely, making “no use” of it, not even in “educating members”.
If the UCU were merely guilty of ignorance, that could be understood and – through education and dialogue – resolved. If someone had proposed that the UCU adopt the Working Definition, and Congress were to reject it, that would be the result of ignorance. Regrettable, but understandable.
However, the UCU has never used the Working Definition, and nobody proposed that it should start doing so. Instead, UCU has decided, apropos of nothing, to condemn the Working Definition whilst offering no serious alternative. In doing so, they have singled out antisemitism from other forms of prejudice as something only they, and not the victims, have the right to identify.
That’s where this goes beyond ignorance into genuine malice. One is left wondering what occupies the thoughts of those who are so keen to lecture Jews on what constitutes antisemitism. Jewish students are left wondering whether their lecturers’ commitment to “combat all forms of racial or religious discrimination” is anything other than hollow rhetoric. “
The University and College Union should be in the vanguard of dealing with racism within Higher Education in Britain, yet its own institutionalised racism and unhealthy preoccupation with boycotting Israelis seems to detract from that very necessary task.
Only recently did the UCU NEC try to redefine anti-Jewish racism as a method of extricating itself from the many problems brought about by its own actions.
The Guardian reports on passive racism within Higher Education:
“The HESA figures show black British professors make up just 0.4% of all British professors – 50 out of 14,385.
This is despite the fact that 2.8% of the population of England and Wales is Black African or Black Caribbean, according to the Office for National Statistics. Only 10 of the 50 black British professors are women.
The figures reflect professors in post in December 2009. When black professors from overseas were included, the figure rose to 75. This is still 0.4%of all 17,375 professors at UK universities. The six universities with more than two black professors from the UK or overseas include London Metropolitan, Nottingham, and Brunel universities. Some 94.3% of British professors are white, and 3.7% are Asian. Some 1.2% of all academics – not just professors – are black. There are no black vice-chancellorsin the UK.
Harry Goulbourne, professor of sociology at London South Bank University, said that while the crude racism of the past had gone, universities were riddled with “passive racism”. He said that, as a black man aspiring to be a professor, he had had to publish twice as many academic papers as his white peers. He said he had switched out of the field of politics, because it was not one that promoted minorities. He called for a “cultural shift” inside the most prestigious universities.
Mirza said UK universities were “nepotistic and cliquey”. “It is all about who you know,” she said. “
Update 1: I wonder if the topic will be discussed at the UCU Congress 2011 currently going on? I suppose so, now the Guardian has mentioned it.
Update 2: From what I can see, the motion from UCU NEC’s abdicating on anti-Jewish racism will take place at the UCU Congress 2011 on Monday 30 May, between 14:45-16.45, under the Business of the equality committee. Not sure that is 100%, as times can often change at Union congresses as business is shifted around, if anyone hears more please let me know.
Update 3: The UCU Congress can be followed live on Twitter via UCU’s web site.
Firstly, thanks to Engage for pointing me towards Ben Gidley’s piece at Dissent, The Politics of Defining Racism: The Case of Anti-Semitism in the University and College Union. Clearly, Dr. Gidley is very knowledgeable on this topic and a pleasure to read, here’s a snippet:
“Racism is mercurial. It mutates over time. Pseudoscientific racial theories are now spouted only by marginal cranks. Notions that different races are different species have come and gone; eugenics has come and gone; words like “Aryan” and “Semitic” are starting to sound quaint. The period since the 1980s has seen the rise of cultural racism, or racism that focuses on cultural differences rather than biological ones.”
In class related matters, the Guardian asked its staff, who’d been educated at Oxbridge and had it helped them in their career. Hmm, not a hard question to answer. Next, they’ll be saying old Etonians dominate the British establishment.
The New York Times on Ratko Mladić, chocolates and genocide. I expect that Ed Herman and Diana Johnstone will be up in arms shortly. Balkan Witness has a good page on Herman and other’s denial. NPR is worth a read.
Time has an informative piece on the psychology of dictators, and I suspect that its findings apply more broadly than many would care to admit.