Yesterday was the opening day of the case being brought by Ronnie Fraser against the University and College Union (UCU) before an employment tribunal; the union is charged with institutional anti-Semitism. See the report here:
Unusually for an employment tribunal, the case will take four weeks to be heard. Over 30 witnesses for the claimant include the Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson - who has submitted a witness statement but will not be cross-examined - as well as Jewish community officials and numerous academics, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The seven witnesses for the respondent are all UCU officials.
Two of the three witnesses who testified during the opening session Monday discussed UCU's decision to allow the international relations spokesperson for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Bongani Masuku, to speak at a UK conference promoting boycott and divestment of Israel in December 2009. Just two days earlier, the South African Human Rights Commission had publicized its finding that Masuku was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community of South Africa. The statements, which were made at a student rally at the University of Witwatersrand the previous March, included threats to South African families with children in the IDF, as well as a promise to make the lives of Zionists in South Africa "hell."
A second witness, retired University of Oxford biochemistry professor Michael Yudkin, had helped draft a motion in his local UCU branch disassociating members from "Masuku's repugnant views," which was passed 14:1. In May 2010, he proposed the motion at the UCU Annual Congress, but lost by "an overwhelming majority". Yudkin subsequently resigned his UCU membership.