Another academic quits UCU over antisemitism

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2011
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James Mendelsohn

James Mendelsohn

Another Jewish academic has quit the University and College Union because of fears about "institutionalised antisemitism."

James Mendelsohn, senior lecturer in law at Huddersfield University said he had sent three emails in 2008 to UCU general secretary Sally Hunt detailing his concerns about antisemitism, but had never received a reply.

He wrote in his resignation letter: "Please do not send me the same generic response you have sent to others who have resigned on these grounds. Sadly, your repeated claim that UCU abhors antisemitism is not borne out by the evidence; rather, the evidence points overwhelmingly in the other direction.

"Speaking on a more personal level, I sent you three emails on related issues in 2008, which are attached. I think you would agree that a trade union which abhorred antisemitism would take such emails from an ordinary member seriously."

"I am sure I will not be the last Jewish member who feels forced to resign, even at a time when trade union protection and solidarity are more important than ever.

"All I would ask you is: do you realise that the boycott campaign is now weakening the union's numbers and credibility, at a time when a strong union is needed more than ever? And do you ever lie awake at night wondering why, in the 21st century, Jewish members have left UCU in droves?"

Lawyers acting for Ronnie Fraser, director of Academic Friends of Israel, have written to UCU general secretary Sally Hunt alleging that the Union's stance breaches equality laws. Four Scottish academics have also resigned from the union.

A spokesman for UCU said: "We will be responding privately to James and the points he makes in his letter."

Last updated: 2:07pm, July 15 2011