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Ronnie Fraser's email on the UCU activists' list
Added by David Hirsh on September 02, 2008 02:11:10 PM.
The UCU and Anglo Jewry - Ronnie Fraser

I would like to draw colleagues notice to the story that last Wednesday the ruling Hamas movement replaced hundreds of striking teachers with its own supporters, purging Gaza's education system of its political rivals and deepening its control of the coastal territory.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/breakingnews/International/0,,7756737,00.html

On this list we are regularly regaled by colleagues who never fail to post a story when they perceive Israel is at fault although stories that relate to the Palestinian shortcomings are never mentioned. It appears that this action in Gaza is the result of the continuing struggle between Hamas and Fatah. This should concern us on two counts, one, teachers are losing their jobs and two, the UCU has a policy of building a "civil society" in Palestine.

Bearing in mind that the UCU has a record of supporting an academic boycott of Israel as well as having close links with Ber Zeit University and is now considering boycotting Ariel College, I would expect our union to acknowledge what is happening in Gaza and take action in support of those teachers there who are at risk.

In answer to those of you who in recent postings have said that dialogue between both sides should be the way forward, as far as I am aware the UCU has had almost no direct contact in recent years with Israeli Teachers Unions and Israeli Universities but has maintained close contact with their Palestinian counterparts. Talks can only take place if both sides are willing to enter into discussions and the UCU leadership has only wants to talk to the Palestinians and not the Israelis.

We have a situation closer to home where Sally Hunt and her colleagues have made no effort to reassure Jewish members of the UCU that the UCU is not institutionally antisemitic or meet with the leaders of Anglo Jewry. David Hirsh has described the charge that "the UCU is institutionally antisemitic" as meaning "this does not mean that significant numbers of people in the union hate Jews. But I do believe that ways of thinking, norms and practices have developed which allow the union to behave in an antisemitic way and to normalize antisemitic expression."

That the Jewish community in Britain believes that the UCU has passed a boycott motion which is antisemitic and discriminatory cuts no ice with the leadership, who I believe have adopted a course of inaction or the ostrich position with their heads in the sand hoping the problem will go away, which of course it won't until they at least acknowledge there is a problem and enter into a dialogue with them.

Ronnie Fraser
Barnet College UCU

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