Tag Archives: IHRA definition

Why I am not resigning from UCU

Posted at Engage. 

At the end of last month, on the eve of the congress of my trade union, the University and College Union (UCU), I wrote an article for the Dissent website Arguing the World. The article was about a motion brought by the National Executive (NEC) of UCU to boycott the Fundamental Rights Agency’s working definition of antisemitism (known as the EUMC Working Definition). In the article, I detailed some instances from the recent history of the union, including the accumulating scale of resignations of Jewish colleagues.

Since writing it, I have been surprised at the number of people who have contacted me, students and fellow academics, for whom my article articulated their own sense of growing alienation in the union. A few have asked me if I am now resigning. Continue reading

On the UCU and antisemitism: reactions

ModernityBlog, 27 May 2011:

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.

Partners for Progressive Israel, 27 May 2011:

There is also a very interesting article in DISSENT magazine, available online, by Ben Gidley, an academic in London, England, which deals with overlapping themes—specifically, how his union is grappling with the challenges of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel. (See mention of this at the “Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine” [TULIP] website.) Gidley’s union has a record in recent years of being very critical of Israel, flirting with calls for BDS, and the like.

Fair Play Campaign, 30 May 2011:

Today, UCU voted to reject the EUMC working definition of antisemitism, leaving nothing in its place. CST explain why the EUMC definition is important here. Ben Gidley has an excellent piece on why this motion is so problematic here.

Rob Marchant, UCU and the siren call of “my enemy’s enemy”, LabourList, 1 June 2011:

And the subtext is crystal clear: anti-Semitism is often not genuine and raised merely to win arguments as matter of bad faith. The motion has already resulted in a number of Jewish members quietly leaving the union, as well as prompting some fine and reasoned articles from concerned academics (Eve Garrard at normblog, for one, points out the inanity of the Twister logic). As well as the depressing report of the Pythonesque debate from the UCU Congress, the arguments are laid out in, among other places, this excellent piece by UCU member Ben Gidley, which I highly recommend for its rationality and calmness, painstakingly detailing all the arguments in the case, as well as highlighting other troubling activity within the union.

The Politics of Defining Racism: The Case of Anti-Semitism in the University and College Union

Published in Dissent’s Arguing The World blog:

My trade union, the University and College Union (UCU, representing professionals in further and higher education in the United Kingdom), has its annual congress this weekend, and, under the title “Campaigning for equality,” will be debating a number of motions on racism and discrimination, including one on how anti-Semitism should be defined.

Unions need policies on such things, because union case work, on relations between employees and management and among colleagues, often involves discrimination and harassment that may be racist. At times like now, when there are huge cuts in higher education and academics are being placed under ever more performance pressure by management, harassment and workplace tensions can increase, and these issues become even more important.

But there are many difficulties in addressing racism. Continue reading