ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Institutionalised Racism And UCU.

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A recent letter of resignation (or 2) from the University and College Union highlights how the proposed boycott of Israelis has weakened the Trade Union movement in Britain.

Despite numerous letters and resignations UCU still doesn’t take seriously the question of its institutionalised racism, from Shalom Lappin’s resignation and those that followed, on and on and on.

As Shalom Lappin wrote:

“In my view, matters have reached the point where the UCU is no longer an effective agent of industrial democracy or a credible representative of its members in the struggle for improved working conditions in the University sector. It has allowed itself to be infected by the raw prejudice of a small group of political extremists, who are using it to pursue an appalling agenda. In these circumstances I see no alternative but to withdraw from the union. I will work against the discrimination that the boycott campaign is attempting to promote in a more efficient way than by allowing myself to be placed in the defendant’s dock by agents of bigotry in an endlessly recurring, stacked “debate” within the UCU. If the UCU ever frees itself from the malevolent grip of the boycott obsession which it has permitted to flourish in its midst and returns to its intended role as a genuine labour union, I will be delighted to return.”

It is a terrible state of affairs when a modern trade union can’t address the issue of institutionalised racism within it and forces members who resigned in protest.


As Eric Heinze put it:

“Since the inception of the AUT, NAFTHE and UCU controversies about Israel, the most strident proponents of boycotts have remained stone silent about the world’s most egregious violators of human rights, several of which states, like China, have an overwhelmingly greater presence in British universities than Israel. The fact that such states are un-democratic, instead of being seen as an aggravating factor, has, bafflingly, been cited by pro-boycotters as an exculpatory factor. Throughout the boycott debates, and among frighteningly wide swathes of the media and public opinion, we have regularly heard that ‘China doesn’t claim to be a democracy, so needn’t be judged in the same way.’ The fact that China does, however, claim to be a ‘people’s republic’ (or that any number of Israel’s foes justify their regimes with reference to principles of Islamic justice) is conveniently avoided by proponents of that view.”

The name of Denis Noble, Michael Yudkin and David Smith can be added to the others who got sick and tired of games at UCU, as Engage detailed in October 2008:

“Physicist Dr Raphaël Lévy has now resigned from the University and College Union in protest at its policy of encouraging members to boycott Israeli academics. His resignation letter is here.

Jonathan Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies & Judaism has just resigned because the union has done nothing to distance itself from the discriminatory policy passed at Congress after six months. His resignation letter is here.

Colin Meade, Senior Lecturer in governance and international relations at London Met resigned in August from the union. His letter of resignation is here.

Sarah Annes Brown, Professor of English, resigned in July, saying that even though she wasn’t Jewish, she still felt alienated by the policy of inciting members to boycott Israeli scholars. Her letter of resignation is here.

Lawyer Eric Heinze has resigned from the union. His letter of protest and resignation is here.

Philosopher Tim Crane resigned from the union in protest. His letter is here.

Philosopher Eve Garrard resigned in July after attending Congress. Her resignation letter is here.

Computational linguist Shalom Lappin resigned in June 2007, following the first UCU Congress. His letter of resignation is here.

Political philosopher Norman Geras explains why he is no longer a member of the UCU here.

Philosopher and UCU NEC member Jon Pike writes on these resignations and on the UCU’s breaches of anti-discrimination law. Here.

Sociologist David Hirsh was permanently excluded from the UCU e-list, where much of the internal union discussion about the boycott takes place, on spurious technical grounds. His formal complaint can be read here.

Scientist Michael Yudkin considers resignation from the UCU here.

Biologist Dov Stekel has not resigned from UCU but says: “… this is the only organization with which I have been involved in which I have been made to feel uncomfortable as a Jew…” here.

Learning technologist Mira Vogel looks at UCU’s anti-bullying policy here.

Sociologist Robert Fine, who has no intention of resigning, on UCU Congress 2008: “The tones are mellow but they give me a shiver and make me feel my Jewishness in a new way.” here.

Mathematician Robert Simon makes his case here.

Lawyer and UCU member Lesley Klaff has spoken out against the position of the UCU, which, she argues relies on deception, on undemocratic means, and degrades the ability of the union to stand up for its members in unity. Here.

Sociologist Deborah Lynn Steinberg articulates her problem with UCU’s support for the campaign to boycott Israel here.

Michael Rubenstein, academic expert in the field of equal opportunities talks about the UCU’s problem with antisemitism here.

76 UCU members signed a public protest about UCU’s failure to take seriously the criticism made against it by the Parliamentary Inquiry. Read their protest, published in the Times Higher, here.

39 UCU members signed a public protest at the UCU’s refusal to meet with Ger Weisskirchen at his request. Weisskirchen is the OSCE’s Chairman-in-Office Representative on antisemitism. The protest, which went unheeded and ignored by the UCU, is here

One Response

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  1. […] Now I am a great believer in argumentation, but it seems unlikely that ANY argument would sway or deflect these anti-Israeli obsessives, as we’ve seen before with the institutionalised racism in UCU. […]


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