07 July 2011
British academic and pro-Israel activist Ronnie Fraser has filed a lawsuit against the University and College Union (UCU), of which he is a member, claiming it has created a “degrading, humiliating and offensive environment” for its Jewish members. According to the Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’, Fraser – who serves as director of the Academic Friends of Israel (AFI) – has sought legal counsel in the matter, and his lawyer wrote a letter to the UCU last week demanding it amend its policies. The UCU labor union represents over 120,000 academics in Britain, and Fraser claims its policies are anti-Semitic, “violate his dignity” and are in breach of the UK Equality Act.
In a letter to UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt it is alleged that the union “harassed” Fraser because he is Jewish. “In simple terms, the UCU is not a place that is hospitable to Jews,” the letter states. Fraser’s attorney said the union’s conduct was not only in breach of the law, but is also a scandal. He cited the UCU’s anti-Israel boycott resolutions, penalization of anti-boycott activists and the continued deterioration of conditions for Jewish union members, among other allegations of blatant anti-Semitism.
Last month, the Jewish member of the House of Lords Baroness Ruth Deech (pictured left) called on universities to consider breaking off ties with UCU. The peer, a former principal of St Anne's College in Oxford, launched a scathing attack on the union for rejecting a definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the European Union. "The European working definition of anti-Semitism states that the singling out of the state of Israel for criticism not leveled at other countries, the denial of Jewish self-determination and comparison with Nazi policies may be anti-Semitic," Deech said during a debate on the subject in the House of Lords. UCU had “spent years trying to establish an illegal boycott of Israeli academia. This is the union that would now deny Jews the ability to complain about racism by denying their perceptions of victimhood if the topic of Israel is in the frame," she added.
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