Union gets le­gal threat over boy­cott

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE UNIVER­SITY and Col­lege Union has been warned of le­gal reper­cus­sions if it passes a mo­tion call­ing on mem­bers to re­view links with Is­rael at its congress in Manch­ester next week.

Lawyers ad­vis­ing the Stop the Boy­cott Cam­paign say that the res­o­lu­tion — backed by the union’s own ex­ec­u­tive — is tan­ta­mount to sup­port for boy­cott ac­tion al­ready deemed un­law­ful.

But Sally Hunt, the union’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, de­nied that there was any call for a boy­cott.

A copy of the 21-page le­gal opin­ion from QCs Michael Beloff and Push­pin­der Saini was sent to Ms Hunt by Jewish lead­ers this week, who urged the union to con­sider it “with care”.

The lawyers say that the mo­tion, if passed, would “ex­pose Jewish mem­bers of the union to in­di­rect dis­crim­i­na­tion” un­der the Race Re­la­tions Act.

They ar­gue that UCU would also breach its own rules by ask­ing mem­bers “to un­der­take acts of ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion against oth­ers on the grounds of na­tional ori­gins”. and four other mem­bers of the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil.

David Hirsh, ed­i­tor of the anti-boy­cott web­site, En­gage, said: “The lead­er­ship of the UCU is in a dream world where con­tempt for Is­raelis is nor­mal and re­spectable.

“Our union needs to make the case for ed­u­ca­tion in Bri­tain and for univer­sity and col­lege work­ers. It doesn’t need to be in court be­ing found guilty of in­sti­tu­tional racism.”

Ms Hunt said it was not for the UCU to com­ment on “le­gal ad­vice re­ceived by other or­gan­i­sa­tions”. But she added: “There is no call for a boy­cott: the mo­tions to congress call for a wider de­bate about what is hap­pen­ing over there…

“I have made it quite clear on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions that my per­sonal view is that a boy­cott of all Is­raeli aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions is not the best way to pro­mote a just peace.”

The JC also un­der­stands that at least four com­plaints of an­tisemitism have been made to the UCU over com­ments on its in­ter­nal ac­tivists’ email fo­rum.

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