Here is an email I received from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). The decision is important as the British Employment Tribunal rejected the attempt to declare the University and Colleges Union support for the Universities of Palestine "anti-semitic." Another victory for Academic freedom and a victory over the abuse of the charge of anti-Semitism being used in an attempt to silence criticism of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians or that support for Palestinian human rights is anti-Semitic.
"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”.
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 ofJewish speakers at Congress debates was also false, as truthful witnesses on theClaimant's side accepted. One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallerywas 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 eventunremarkable and certainly not unreasonable. One exception was a remark of MrNewmark 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 notonly 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 OrMacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect ofwhich he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even thatassistance. 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 weredoing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever tohave 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 clearto me where the line is ... " but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate itfor 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 athttp://bricup.org.uk/#236
Follow BRICUP on twitter www.twitter.com/bricup
Keep up to date with the academic boycott at www.bricup.org.uk