This is the text of a letter sent today from Mishcon de Reya to Sally Hunt of UCU, and posted here with permission.
University and College Union
Carlow Street 1 July 2011
Dear Ms Hunt
Anti-Semitism in the UCU
I act for Ronnie Fraser, one among the diminishing group of Jewish members of your union, and I write to you to complain on his behalf of the UCU's breach of ss. 26 and 57 (3) of the Equality Act 2010.
That is to say, the UCU has "harassed" him by "engaging in unwanted conduct" relating to his Jewish identity (a "relevant protected characteristic"), the "purpose and/or effect" of which has been, and continues to be, to "violate his dignity" and/or create "an intimidating, hostile, degrading humiliating" and/or "offensive environment" for him.
In simple terms, the UCU is not a place that is hospitable to Jews.
This is not just a violation of equality legislation, it is also a scandal.
(It is of course a further scandal that a union - moreover, of all unions, the one representing the interests of university and college teachers - is breaching energetically fought-for laws against discrimination.)
I have written to you in the past, on behalf of other UCU members, about your union's conduct. I attach a copy of my 3 June 2008 letter.
You will see that I complain, among other things, about the UCU's year-on-year anti-Israel boycott resolutions (and the conduct of the debates on those resolutions), the moderating of the on-line forum for UCU members, the penalising of anti-boycott activists, the failure to engage with Jewish and non-Jewish members' concerns regarding these matters, the failure to address the resignation from the union of many of those members, and the rebuffing of the OSCE's special representative on anti-Semitism.
Conditions for the generality of Jewish members have only deteriorated since then. Further boycott resolutions have been passed; further incontinently anti-Semitic comments on the "Activists' list" have been posted; there have been further resignations from the union by Jewish members. And if I add to this sorry list the union's welcoming in 2009 of Bongani Masuku (and its 2010 endorsement of that welcome) it is only because the UCU's hospitality to a confirmed anti-Semite makes for such a pointed contrast with its inhospitality to its own Jewish members.
The scandal is thus a long-standing one. It is continuous with the history of the union (indeed, it reaches back into the histories of the predecessor unions, the AUT and NATFHE). From its inception, the UCU has been inhospitable to Jews. It persists in its inhospitable conduct - indeed, intensifying it year by year, piling fresh insults upon accumulated insults to its Jewish members.
The recent resolution repudiating an internationally-accepted working definition of anti-Semitism (Resolution 70 / 2011) is among the most recent of such insults. It was a telling development, however.
Unable to defend itself against the charge of institutional anti-Semitism, the UCU sought instead to legislate anti-Semitism itself out of existence.
This indecent, discreditable resolution was passed in active disregard of the feelings of Jewish members - a disregard amounting to a kind of inflamed contempt for all Jews other than that minority among them ready to abet a degraded and obsessive "anti-Zionist" activism.
My client has had enough. He believes that the UCU's conduct, over so many years now, has limited his options to either resigning or suing. He has chosen to sue. Unless I hear from you confirming that the UCU will meet his proper demands, as set out below, he will make an Equality Act claim to the Employment Tribunal. He expects to win, and in winning, to perform a service not just to his fellow Jewish UCU members and ex-members, but to the cause of decent, principled trades unionism. Mr Fraser's demands are as follows:
1. The abrogation of Resolution 70/2011.
2. An open and unqualified acknowledgment by the UCU that it has been guilty of institutional anti-Semitism, and a public apology in this regard both to its Jewish members and ex-members, and those other members and ex-members who have complained about or who otherwise deprecate this anti-Semitism.
3. Commitment to abide by a code of conduct in respect of Jewish members, to be drawn up by a body comprising individuals approved by our client ("the body"), following its inquiry into the precise character of the UCU's institutional anti-Semitism.
4. A further commitment to sponsor a programme (for a minimum of ten years, and conducted by the body) educating academics concerning the dangers of anti-Semitism, with special reference to the relationship between anti-Semitism and what now passes for "anti-Zionism."
I await your response by no later than 5 August.
Yours sincerelyAnthony Julius