Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Eric Pickles: UCU sending Jews 'chilling message'

    Communities Secretary Eric Pickles believes the University and College Union's rejection of the widely-accepted definition of antisemitism sends a "chilling message" to Jewish academics and students.

    Writing exclusively for the JC, Mr Pickles says UCU now believes that Jews are "fair game for invective" and has become "a most unlikely champion of free speech".

    "It has been boycotting visits by Israeli academics for a number of years. Their actions suggest that their true goal is not and cannot be to secure freedom of speech, but to silence dissenting opinion."

    Jewish community leaders reacted with outrage when delegates at May's UCU annual congress overwhelmingly supported the executive's resolution distancing the organisation from the European Union's working definition on antisemitism.

    UCU claimed the definition prevented the full and open discussion of Israel and Palestine on campus.

    Mr Pickles also cites UCU's 2006 rejection of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism's findings, and the Union's 2009 invitation to South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku - who had called for Jews in South Africa to be stripped of their citizenship – to speak at a conference.

    Mr Pickles writes: "Seen in this context, the latest resolution is in fact sending out a chilling message. It says that Jewish academics and students who perceive that they are being harassed or bullied should understand that they will be held to a different standard. It says that they should expect to be fair game for invective, and learn to live with feeling more vulnerable.

    "Little wonder that the Union has already seen many members of the Jewish faith, other faiths and none vote with their feet and leave."

    Baroness Deech, a member of the
    All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, welcomed Mr Pickles' remarks.

    She said: "This is an appropriate and timely intervention. I am heartened by the seriousness with which he is addressing the actions of the UCU. This gives me some hope that the UCU will be forced to change.

    "Like the Secretary of State, I have asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate the UCU's apparent institutional racism. It is simply not acceptable that Jewish students and lecturers are being denied rights that are available to others."

    UCU general secretary Sally Hunt was unavailable to respond to Mr Pickles's comments.

Uk News

Strictly Orthodox Ukip candidate 'should not run for office'

Marcus Dysch

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Strictly Orthodox Ukip candidate 'should not run for office'
Special Reports

Dublin benefits from overseas aid

Barry Toberman

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dublin benefits from overseas aid
Uk News

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'

JC Reporter

Monday, December 5, 2016

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'
Uk News

Government drops pledge to aid 3,000 child refugees

Rosa Doherty

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Government drops pledge to aid 3,000 child refugees
Uk News

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'

By Simon Rocker

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'
Uk News

Local MP blocks visit from David Irving's 'secret tour'

Rosa Doherty

Friday, December 2, 2016

Local MP blocks visit from David Irving's 'secret tour'
Uk News

Anti-Israel conference faces delay

Lee Harpin

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Anti-Israel conference faces delay
Uk News

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity

Daniel Sugarman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity
Uk News

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86

JC Reporter

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86