Pro-Israel activist's case against UCU fails

Ronnie Fraser

Ronnie Fraser

A blistering rejection of pro-Israel activist Ronnie Fraser's case against the academic union, UCU, was published on Seder night by a London employment tribunal.

In a 49-page ruling, the Employment Judge, AM Snelson, sitting with Mr A Grant and Lady Sedley, rejected Mr Fraser's claims of unlawful harassment by the UCU, and dismissed the entire proceedings.

The reserved judgment was issued in respect of nearly three weeks of hearings which took place in October and November last year. In a stern rebuke in the conclusion of the judgment, Judge Snelson wrote: "Lessons should be learned from this sorry saga. We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means...What makes this litigation doubly regrettable is its gargantuan scale."

The judge rebuked the litigants, saying "the Employment Tribunals are a hard-pressed public service and it is not right that their limited resources should be squandered as they have been."

Although the tribunal said that Mr Fraser had impressed them "as a sincere witness" with "nothing synthetic about his displays of emotion", there were harsh words for several others who gave evidence during the hearing, particularly the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, whose testimony was rejected as untrue.

Two MPs - one has since resigned from Parliament - were also criticised for giving "glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions... Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking."

Mr Fraser said that he was "naturally disappointed" at the decision but added that he was "grateful that the hearing provided us with the opportunity to raise and discuss in great detail the issues of discrimination and antisemitism which are so important to Anglo-Jewry."

He expressed particular concern over a statement in the judgment that "a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel" was "not intrinsically a part of Jewishness".

Mr Fraser commented: "For the court to say that as Jews we do not have an attachment to Israel is disappointing considering we have been yearning for Israel for 2000 years and it has been in our prayers all that time."

He said; "As a member of the Board of Deputies, I intend to campaign for us as a community to accept a definition of Jewishness which includes a connection with Israel and the adoption of a definition of anti-semitism."

Last updated: 11:21am, March 29 2013