UCU executive set to meet Board and JLC

By Marcus Dysch, July 21, 2011

It emerged this week that University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt is to meet representatives of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council.

In a letter to James Mendelsohn, senior lecturer in law at Huddersfield University, who this week resigned from the union, Ms Hunt said they would discuss the exit of Jewish academics from the union.

Eight academics have now resigned since the union rejected a widely-accepted definition of antisemitism at its conference in May.

Mr Mendelsohn said he had emailed Ms Hunt three times since 2008 detailing his concerns about antisemitism, but had never received a reply.

In his resignation letter to her last week, he wrote: "Sadly, your repeated claim that UCU abhors antisemitism is not borne out by the evidence; rather, the evidence points overwhelmingly in the other direction."

‘Why do you think Jewish academics have left?’

He said UCU's boycott campaign was "weakening its credibility and numbers" and asked: "Do you ever lie awake at night wondering why, in the 21st century, Jewish members have left UCU in droves?"

In her response, Ms Hunt said she was "very sorry" to learn of Mr Mendelsohn's decision.

She wrote: "I do not believe that the congress decision on the EUMC working definition should be taken to indicate any change in the union's implacable opposition to antisemitism and all other forms of racism."

Lawyers acting for Ronnie Fraser, director of Academic Friends of Israel, await a response from the union to Mr Fraser's threat of legal action. He alleges that the union's stance on defining antisemitism breaches equality laws.

Last updated: 2:46pm, July 21 2011