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March 29, 2013

EDITOR: BDS wins against the combined forces of Zionism in Britain!

Israel and the Zionist establishment have defined Britain as the main front in Europe, and maybe even elsewhere, the territory in which ant-Zionism has the greatest potential to harm Israel, and the one they must win in order to stop the march of anti-Zionism. Huge sums of money have been allocated to fight this supposedly mighty enemy, and the funding comes both from Israel and the indigenous British Jewish community. enormous effort has been put into setting up a large network of Israel Studies centres at universities, bringing Israeli culture to Britain, and acting in the social and political spheres, as well as the legal one, against any criticism of Israel, slight as it may be. In this battle, the BBC and the Guardian have been two of the main targets, as the main expressions of the liberal, dominant tradition of the middle class in Britain. The working class, with its unions and various institutions, was not forgotten either, and Zionism has infiltrated all unions and the Labour party, making sure, through organisation such as Labour Friends of Israel, that the political machinery supposedly representing the working class in Britain takes a position of ardent support of Zionism, whatever crimes it is involved in. The unions in Britain were for a while neglected, bearing in mind the gradual weakening they have encountered under Thatcher and since.

The academic unions were always a target for Zioinist, as they grouped together some of the most radical and progressive voices in Europe, not just in Britain. Especially NATFHE, the union dominant in the Polytechnics, which became the new universities after 1992, took a progressive position on Zionism and Palestine, supporting the rights of the Palestinians, and calling, just before it was wound up in the unification with AUT, for an academic boycott of Israel. The union resulting from the merger of NATFHE and AUT, UCU, (University and College Union) has been more conservative, but gradually the voice of the left has been increasing, and since 2005, and the Palestinian call for academic boycott, and the setting up of BRICUP as the academic support organisation in the UK, the strength of arguments against Issrael continued brutal and illegal occupation has taken on a central role within UCU. Many resolutions calling for action against various aspects of Israel’s academia and its collaboration with the apartheid regime and its iniquities have been successful and persuasive, not just within UCU, but well beyond its narrow confines – other unions have been influenced and joined the ranks of institutions calling for international action against the continued oppression of the Palestinian people.

This continued and increasing success of anti-Zionist policies in the British Labour movement was seen as a great danger to Israel’s position in Europe, and a number of initiatives have been formulated by the Hasbarah machine. Originally, naive planners in Israel believed that the mere sending of an Israeli delegation of senior academics to the UK will help to convert the opposition to ardent Zionists overnight… Such a delegation, made up of seven senior professors, one from each of Israel’s universities, protected by armed guard of 15 security agents, was touring Britain in 2005, and hectoring the British academics in the well-known and aggressive manner of the Israeli Hasbarah. This effort was probably responsible for converting more academics to the BDS view than most efforts of the BDS supporters… the arrogance and narrow-mindedness of the delegation, its unthinking racism, and its a-historical perspectives have done much to persuade British academics that the BDS is the only viable position to take.  In the wake of this fiasco, a new position was worked out, based on home-brewed opposition to BDS. A group called Engage was set up, with active support of the Israeli Hasbarah machinery, made up of Jewish academics and intellectuals, and led by such luminaries and David Hirsh, and sub-titling itself as the ‘ant-racist campaign against antisemitism’. the concept of antisemitism was central to the new group, and they spent all their time trying to confuse the British public, equating opposition to Israel and its aggressive, colonialist militarism as antisemitic. The spread of Jewish Studies centres was key to this new effort of tarring opposition to Israel as antisemitic. Few in number, but rich in resources, they were active in all of UCU’s forums, trying to reverse the growing opposition to Israel and Zionism within the union, and the Labour movement as such.

To begin with, it seemed they would be successful. Their website was well-funded and active, but events were against them. Reality is a real problem, of course. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of propagandists, and their obvious skill at twisting facts, reality comes and frustrates their hard work. Such was the case with Engage. They were trapped from the start withing the strait-jacket of Israeli crimes and iniquities, forced to support these, sometimes against their own best judgements, as the Hasbarah pressure-group in Britain. The Lebanon war in Summer 2006 – not an event which could be explained away, and the brutal Gaza massacres on December 2008/January 2009 were their undoing – some of their members found it impossible to continue supporting Israel’s position, and others took a back seat and remained silent. Only the hard-liners and extremists, such as David Hirsh, stayed and continued, but without much effect. Thus was the UCU front abandoned.

The post-Gaza situation looked desperate for the Engagenics, and for the Hasbarah efforts, until the concept of Lawfare, an imaginative creation of Israel’s great defenders in the US, Deshowitz of Harvard, came to the rescue. If you can’t persuade them, went the Dershowitz maxim, you can at least use the law to make them shut up. Dershowitz has announced that he has over one hundred lawyers working on this front, and that anyone criticising Israel will face legal action and be branded as an antisemite, hence bringing about the defeat of the international opposition to Israel. Much activity was spent on changing the legal definition of antisemitism in Europe, and making anti-Zionism, and normal and liberal criticising of Israeli atrocities branded as antisemitism.

Again, this great effort looked as if it may be successful. UCU and other unions have made sure that all its resolutions criticising Israel were never carried out in practice, so as not to bring the union into a legal conflict with Israel and its powerful allies within the Jewish community, and the ruling elite. Despite its ardent efforts to emasculate its own democratically voted-for resolutions, UCU ended up in court, taken to task by one of its members, claiming antisemitic harassment… the story below is the bottom line of this court case, brought before an Industrial tribunal, at great cost to the public and UCU, and lasting 20 days of hearings. The bizarre case was thrown out by the Tribunal, which severely criticised both the claimant himself as well as his erstwhile legal representative, the famous Anthony Julius of the wealthy Mishcon law firm. The language and arguments of the Tribunal in its ruling also make an appeal impossible. The lie has been exposed and blamed. wherefore now for the Engagenics, and the Hasbarah warriors in Britain?

 BRICUP Information: BRICUP

Ronnie Fraser, a Zionist member of UCU (University and College Union), with the support of leaders of the UK Jewish establishment attempted to sue his Union for antisemitism on account of its discussions of the situation in Palestine/Israel and its consideration of activity in support of Palestinian rights.

In an unusually robust judgement the tribunal found the case “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means” and a case which showed a “worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression”. In considering whether to accept the ten complaints raised by Fraser the tribunal used such phrases as:

“devoid of any merit”, “palpably groundless”, “obviously untenable”, “the Claimant again fails to make out any arguable complaint “, “obviously hopeless”.

In their review of the quality of the witnesses the tribunal concluded:

We regret to say that we have rejected as untrue the evidence of Ms Ashworth and Mr Newmark concerning the incident at the 2008 Congress (see our findings under complaint (8) above). Evidence given to us about booing. jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers at Congress debates was also false, as truthful witnesses on the Claimant’s side accepted. One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallery was Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross- examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him. The opinions of witnesses were not, of course, our concern and in most instances they were in any event unremarkable and certainly not unreasonable. One exception was a remark of Mr Newmark in the context of the academic boycott controversy in 2007 that the union was “no longer a fit arena for free speech”, a comment which we found not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing. We did not derive assistance from the two Members of Parliament who appeared before us. Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions. For Or MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti- Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is … ” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.

This is another example of the use of the courts in a lawfare campaign to silence criticism of the policies of Israel and support for Palestinian Rights.

You can read the full findings of of the tribunal, BRICUP’s reaction and other reports on our website at http://bricup.org.uk/#236

Mike Cushman
for BRICUP

Follow BRICUP on twitter www.twitter.com/bricup

Keep up to date with the academic boycott at www.bricup.org.uk

Pro-Israel activist’s case against UCU fails: Jewish Chronicle

By Jenni Frazer, March 28, 2013
Ronnie Fraser Ronnie Fraser

A blistering rejection of pro-Israel activist Ronnie Fraser’s case against the academic union, UCU, was published on Seder night by a London employment tribunal.

In a 49-page ruling, the Employment Judge, AM Snelson, sitting with Mr A Grant and Lady Sedley, rejected Mr Fraser’s claims of unlawful harassment by the UCU, and dismissed the entire proceedings.

The reserved judgment was issued in respect of nearly three weeks of hearings which took place in October and November last year. In a stern rebuke in the conclusion of the judgment, Judge Snelson wrote: “Lessons should be learned from this sorry saga. We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means…What makes this litigation doubly regrettable is its gargantuan scale.”

The judge rebuked the litigants, saying “the Employment Tribunals are a hard-pressed public service and it is not right that their limited resources should be squandered as they have been.”

Although the tribunal said that Mr Fraser had impressed them “as a sincere witness” with “nothing synthetic about his displays of emotion”, there were harsh words for several others who gave evidence during the hearing, particularly the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, whose testimony was rejected as untrue.

Two MPs – one has since resigned from Parliament – were also criticised for giving “glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions… Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.”

Tribunal slams academic for bringing anti-Semitism case: Times Higher Education Suplement

27 MARCH 2013 | BY 

A Jewish academic who claimed the University and College Union’s policy on Palestine constituted harassment has been rebuked by an employment tribunal for misusing the legal process.

Judge's mallet and legal paperwork

Ronnie Fraser, a further education lecturer and founding director of Academic Friends of Israel, argued that the UCU was institutionally anti-Semitic owing to motions passed in favour of a boycott of Israel.

Despite enlisting the services of Anthony Julius, best known as Diana, Princess of Wales’ divorce lawyer and a partner at Mishcon de Reya, all of his 10 claims of harassment have been “dismissed in their totality”.

During the 20-day hearing in December, Mr Fraser called several witnesses to give evidence, including Howard Jacobson, the Booker Prize winning novelist, John Mann MP, the former MP Denis MacShane and numerous leading Jewish academics.

However, in its judgment, which was published on 25 March, Mr Fraser’s claim is strongly criticised by the tribunal members.

The action is branded by tribunal panel members as “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means” and a case which showed a “worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression”.

Mr Fraser, the child of refugees who fled Nazi Germany, is viewed as a “sincere witness”, but the tribunal notes his “political experience” and are not impressed by his claim that the tone of several debates at the UCU’s annual congress “violated his dignity”, thereby constituting harassment.

“No doubt some of the things said in the course of debates were upsetting, but to say they violated his dignity…is to overstate his case hugely,” the judgment says.

“The claimant [Mr Fraser] is a campaigner,” it adds.

“He chooses to engage in the politics of the union in support of Israel and in opposition to activists to the Palestinian cause.

“When a rugby player takes the field he must accept his fair share of minor injuries. Similarly, a political activist accepts the risk of being offended or hurt on occasions by things said or done by his opponents (who themselves take on a corresponding risk).”

Scorn is also invoked for Mr Julius’s decision to pursue certain points, with complaints variously dismissed as “palpably groundless”, “obviously hopeless” and “devoid of any merit”.

The “sorry saga” had also acquired a “gargantuan scale” that required a 20-day hearing and a 23 volumes of evidence which was “manifestly excessive and disproportionate”, the tribunal adds.

“Our analysis to date has despatched almost the entire case as manifestly unmeritorious,” it concludes.

Several complaints were also made with reference to the wrong act of Parliament, while some were also “out of time” as the incident has occurred too long ago to bring to the tribunal.

The judgment also says public resources had been “squandered” conducting such a long case, while “nor should the [UCU] have been put to the trouble and expense of defending proceedings of this order”.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “This has been an extremely difficult period for the UCU staff and members involved in defending the union’s position and I am especially pleased therefore that the tribunal found our witnesses to be careful and accurate.

“The claimant, while unsuccessful, of course had the right to challenge the union in the courts and will be treated with respect within the union as will his views on this question.

“Now that a decision has been made I hope in turn that he, and others who share his views, will play an active part in the union and its debates rather than seek recourse to the law.”

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

Crushing defeat for Israel lobby as anti-boycott litigation fails in UK: Electronic Intifada

Submitted by Asa Winstanley on Tue, 03/26/2013 – 22:35

A British judge comprehensively dismissed a high-profile legal attack on theUniversity and College Union, it emerged on Monday. The case was brought after democratic union bodies discussed boycotts of Israel.

An Employment Tribunal ruled the claim of “institutional anti-Semitism,” brought by union member and Academic Friends of Israel director Ronnie Fraser, was dismissed on all counts.

The ruling is a dramatic and comprehensive defeat for the Israeli “lawfare” strategy, and may even have backfired for its proponents who today descended into acrimonious internal back-biting.

“Political end by litigious means”

In the 49-page ruling, the three-person tribunal comprehensively considered the 10 points of the detailed complaint, brought on behalf of Fraser by high-profile pro-Israel lawyer Anthony Julius.

After dismissing each one of them in detail (“without substance … devoid of any merit … palpably groundless … untenable … obviously hopeless”), the document appears to foreclose the possibility of another such “lawfare” attack ever being brought to court again (at least using UK Tribunals).

“Lessons should be learned from this sorry saga. We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means. It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated” (paragraph 178, my emphasis).

It is this key passage of the ruling that means anti-Palestinian activists may rue the day they ever contemplated “the wreckage of this litigation,” as the judge frankly puts it (para. 181).

The judge raises serious concerns that a “hard-pressed” public service like the Tribunals should have “their limited resources … squandered [by Fraser] as they have been in this case.” Nor “should the Respondents [the union] have been put to the trouble and expense of defending proceedings of this order or anything like it” (para. 180).

Another important finding is that “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel … cannot amount to a protected characteristic” under the Equality Act of 2010. This properly sets a clear red line between Zionism and Judaism (or Jewish identity).

Julius’s competence was also called into doubt by the panel, after he “referred in support of his argument to a concept unfamiliar to us and not, so far as we are aware, known to our law, namely ‘institutional responsibility’ ” (para. 22).

“Preposterous” claims

The panel was also “troubled by the implications of the claim. Underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression” (para 179). This is clearly a reference to (among others) Jeremy Newmark, a witness for Fraser, and the head of the Jewish Leadership Council.

He once said the union was “no longer a fit arena for free speech” – this is described by the judge as “extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing.”

The judge also found that parts of Newmark’s evidence before the tribunal were “preposterous” and “untrue.” Testimony by Jane Ashworth, of the anti-boycott groupEngage, was also found to be false.

Two members of parliament who appeared as witnesses for Fraser were also criticized. John Mann MP and Denis MacShane MP “clearly enjoyed making speeches. [But] neither seems at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking” (para. 148).

While there is some minor criticism of the union on procedural grounds, in the main there is mostly praise. Of the witnesses called by the union, the judgment says “we found all of them careful and accurate” (para. 149).

The panel “spent an entire day” listening to recordings of union debates in Congress (its annual decision-making conference which regional delegates are sent to): “In our judgment, the proceedings were well-ordered and balanced.”

Fraser’s case had alleged union debates that discussed the issue of boycotting Israel were systematically biased against him on the basis of his Jewishness. In fact, the judge found that Jewish union members spoke on both the pro- and anti-boycott sides of debates, which were “managed in an even-handed fashion.”

Implications

The verdict is a comprehensive defeat for Israel’s lawfare project, supporters of Israeli war crimes and assorted Zionist fanatics in the UK.

There were early signs today of internal fallout, as the recriminations began.

Writing on Facebook, leading Engage figure, and witness in the case David Hirshaccused the verdict itself of being anti-Semitic: “That which Ronnie experiences as antisemitism is what the Tribunal finds to be precisely the right and courageous way to treat him.”

Commenting on the same post, two Zionist activists then fall out, giving their competing analyses of what went wrong. David Toube of the Islamophobic, pro-Israel, pro-war blog Harry’s Place advocated the idea (anti-Semitic in itself) that Jews should get out of Britain: “I recommend that Jews who want to stand and fight against antisemitism, emigrate to Israel.”

But Jonathan Hoffman, formerly a leading figure at the Zionist Federation, tried to look on the bright side: “maybe it is useful as a staging post – for example to a change in the law or to a [sic] radical rethink in Jewish Community organization.”

The union’s general secretary Sally Hunt said in a press release: “I am delighted that the Tribunal has made such a clear and overwhelming judgment in UCU’s favor. There are many different views within UCU and wider society about Israel and Palestine and this decision upholds our and others’ right to freedom of expression and to continue to properly debate these and other difficult questions.”

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