October 28, 2013

EU's Fundamental Rights Agency Disappears Bogus Working Definition of Antisemitism

For a long time the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) hosted on its website a zionist drafted so-called working definition of antisemitism.  It's successor organisation, the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), continued hosting the dodgy definition leading to much confusion about its status with the EU in spite of objections that the working definition appeared to be designed to prevent serious criticism of The State of Israel.

Well now see this extract from a BBC Trust email reply to me when I pointed out an error of theirs in referring to the working definition as the "EU's":
the so-called “working definition of anti-semitism” referred to in the finding and cited by the complainant was published on the website of the EU Monitoring Committee for Racism and Xenophobia in 2005. This body was replaced by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (the FRA) in 2007. A press officer at the FRA has explained that this was a discussion paper and was never adopted by the EU as a working definition, although it has been on the FRA website until recently when it was removed during a clear out of “non-official” documents. The link to the FRA site provided by the complainant in his appeal no longer works.
It would be interesting to know what was discussed about this "discussion paper" because a mere glance exposes it as a hasbara document but it is good news to know that the FRA has finally ditched it as being a ""non-official" document".

October 27, 2013

BBC Trust promotes then demotes (almost) the Working Definition of Antisemitism

I noticed this a long time ago on the Engage website.  Someone made a complaint to the BBC Trust about something about the Lib Dem MP, David Ward.  It doesn't really matter what it was but it became a part of the drip-drip way in which zionists are trying to have their bogus so-called Working Definition of Antisemitism gaining general acceptance.

Here's a part of the BBC Trust's ruling as per the Engage post:
The Committee noted also the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism, which states that “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” was a manifestation of anti-Semitism. [emphasis added]
Well I wasn't having that so I wrote to the BBC Trust as follows:
Dear Sir/Madam

I have just read the above complaint and the complaint and the decision contain an error of fact relating to what they both refer to as "the EU's working definition of anti-Semitism".

The European Union does not have a working or any other definition of antisemitism.  The Editorial Standards Committee appears to have assumed that the "working definition of ant-Semitism" is the EU's simply because the complainant said it is.

The problem here is that the so-called "working definition" has other elements that are at best controversial and appear to be designed to insulate The State of Israel from criticism.

I have no objection to the rest of the content of the decision but it accords to the "working definition" a formal status which it does not have.

In light of the above I think you should correct the decision and rely on standard definitions of racism in general rather than this special definition of antisemitism in particular.

I should also be grateful if you could direct me to the source the Committee used to peruse the "working definition of anti-Semitism" if indeed it was not simply the complainant's own assertion.

Many thanks,

Yours faithfully

Mark Elf
 Eventually I got a reply and here's an extract:
In light of your comments and our subsequent enquiries into this matter we propose to amend the published decision to make it clearer that the Committee noted an assertion put forward by the complainant.

By way of background, the so-called “working definition of anti-semitism” referred to in the finding and cited by the complainant was published on the website of the EU Monitoring Committee for Racism and Xenophobia in 2005. This body was replaced by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (the FRA) in 2007. A press officer at the FRA has explained that this was a discussion paper and was never adopted by the EU as a working definition, although it has been on the FRA website until recently when it was removed during a clear out of “non-official” documents. The link to the FRA site provided by the complainant in his appeal no longer works.
We propose to make the following amendment to the finding (changes shown in red):

The Committee noted also the complainant’s argument that the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism, which states that “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” was a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

We will add the following footnote to this amendment:

The Committee further notes, however, that the definition relied upon by the complainant, which was previously available on the website of the EU Monitoring Committee for Racism and Xenophobia, has recently been removed by its successor, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

So the BBC Trust appears to have relied on the mere assertion of the complainant that the EU had a working definition of antisemitism which it didn't.  Not only that, it's amendment to the original ruling doesn't really clarify the position.  It does not make clear to the general public that the EU doesn't have a working definition of antisemitism, simply that it doesn't host it on its website anymore.

I did press them to further clarify the position on the website but they refused.  Ah well, little acorns....

Let sleeping dogs lie or let lying dog sleep?

I see, belatedly again, that one of two people openly accused of lying by the judge in the Fraser v UCU Employment Tribunal case, Jeremy Newmark, has stepped down as leader of the Jewish Leadership Council.  Here's the Jewish Chronicle:
Lucian Hudson said that last week’s decision by JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark to step down for health reasons created a new opportunity.

Mr Hudson, who is a member of the JLC council, expressed sadness at Mr Newmark’s departure, saying that he was “an outstanding leader”.
Here's what the Tribunal said:
We regret to say that we have rejected as untrue the evidence of Ms Ashworth and Mr Newmark concerning the incident at t he 2008 Congress (see our findings under complaint (8) above). Evidence given to us about booing, jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers at Congress debates was al so false, as truthful witnesses on the Claimant’s side accepted. One painfully ill- judged example of playing to the gallery was Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross-examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him.
And that's an "outstanding leader" of what passes itself off as the Jewish community.  Only one zionist, as far as I know, has criticised Newmark himself over his dishonesty and that was Adam Wagner in Cartoon Kippah:
...we should, as a community, be embarrassed by this ruling. It involved not just the looney fringe but central figures in the community, who have been branded exaggerators, manipulators and arrogant liars.
And this "arrogant liar", Jeremy Newmark, is no longer leading the Jewish Leadership Council, not because he has been caught by a court lying to that court, but because of his ill health.  Well the illness, I believe it's diabetes, is all very sad and all, but to have such a character, not simply not censured but praised by his peers says it all about mainstream Jewish organisation today.

As far as wilful dishonesty goes they have decided both to let sleeping dogs lie and the lying dog sleep.

October 20, 2013

On the passing of Norman Geras

I wanted to write a fair bit about some of the ludicrous farewells to Norman Geras over this past 3 days but I wanted to find this old post of his.  In the end it took so long to find the post that I don't have time to sift through some of the silly tweets and blog posts I've seen about the now late Norman Geras.  So here's his post and I'll come back to this post later:

August 05, 2011

To hell with the Jews, no less

Here is a piece, I won't leave you guessing as to where, that looks forward to the end of the state of Israel:
If Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank, and allows it to join with Gaza, the result could be two states - a Palestinian one alongside an Israeli one. But if you accompany that with a civil rights movement inside Israel, the goal could be very different – a secular, democratic state "for all its citizens", where Jew, Christian and Muslim are equal. A one-state solution in which Jewish citizens lose an inbuilt majority. The end of Zionism, no less.
The constraints of ordinary logic will show you that a secular, democratic state for all its citizens will either be acceptable to a majority of Israeli Jews or it won't be. If it is, then that at least - Jewish opinion - won't prove an obstacle to the democratic one-state solution envisaged; but otherwise it will, and there could be no one-state solution compatible with the national self-determination of the Jews. How is it possible to overlook this, by not even mentioning it as a possible issue, in an article about a region of the world where the right of the Palestinians to national self-determination is generally now taken for granted? Well, it's a puzzle, what can I tell you.
 I don't know why the constraints of ordinary logic are so constraining they don't allow for people changing their minds or for people to be conceived of as individuals rather than instances or masses of ethno-religious identity but he was considered a great academic.

Many tweets and posts have mentioned Norm's (he called himself Norm) debating style.  Actually his blog does nothing to encourage or facilitate debate.  It had and has no comments facility, no search facility and no comprehensive archive retrieval.  This means that there could be nothing like real time discussion and no checking for consistency from one post to another dealing with roughly the same subject.

Anyway, I've already made myself late for something else so, as I said, I'll return to this in due course.

October 18, 2013

£500 k the potential cost of FUCU I

Here's a report in the Jewish Chronicle I missed when it first appeared. I did mention the claiming of costs by the UCU over the FUCU case back in May this year but this later report has more detail.  Under the headline, Union seeks to reclaim costs after tribunal win, Marcus Dysch writes:
A union which defeated a harassment claim from a Jewish lecturer will go to court in November in an attempt to recover its legal costs.

The University College Union won an employment tribunal in April after Ronnie Fraser had claimed its anti-Israel policies amounted to harassment.

London’s Central Employment Tribunal will consider UCU’s application on November 7.

It is understood the claim amounts to around £500,000, but neither party was able to confirm the figure this week.
I don't know why the union can't confirm what it's claiming but an interesting thing I've just noticed is that the headline on line is different from the headline in print:

 Maybe,if the case goes the UCU's way, it won't be Fraser that pays.

October 14, 2013

FUCU II Plaintiff on Negotiating with Iran

If you read the last post you'll know that Professor Moty Cristol is suing the UK public sector union, Unison, because they disinvited him from something or other on account of his role as an Israeli government adviser.  Here he is in Ha'aretz:
When a Western negotiator - who believes that negotiation is only a means to an end - meets an Iranian negotiator - who sees bargaining as a way to pass the time, or just to weaken the other side (especially in a political context) - there is a gap that always benefits the Iranian.
Now change the words Western for Palestinian and Iranian for Israeli and we have the history of Oslo.  We also have an Israeli government negotiator with a breathtaking lack of self-awareness.

If you have trouble accessing the Ha'aretz article, see this blog for a key to the paywall.

October 12, 2013

FUCU II: This Time it's Personal!

This story is a bit old now but I only discovered it this morning in a month old copy of The Jewish News.  The case is both similar to and different from FUCU I in that the case involves a complainant stretching the definition of who is a Jew and therefore what constitutes discrimination against a Jew in connection with their being Jewish but it is different in that it does involve a specific action aimed at a named individual, the complainant, Professor Moty Cristol.

Here's The Jewish News:
A judge has been warned he would release ‘a tiger’ into the legal system if an Israeli was allowed to sue one of the UK’s biggest unions for indirect discrimination.

Professor Moty Cristal, 45, an expert on conflict resolution, was formally ‘disinvited’ from a speaking event when Unison members discovered his ethnicity, Central London County Court heard.

The Jewish academic had been due to lead a session at an NHS workshop in Manchester but was told union members would refuse to if he spoke.

Professor Cristal subsequently brought an action against both the union and Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust for racial discrimination.

Unison and the Trust deny the allegation, claiming that the event was not cancelled because Professor Cristal is Israeli or Jewish, but because he had worked as an official for the Israeli government.

In response, Professor Cristal’s lawyers have lodged a claim of ‘indirect’ discrimination, alleging his right to freely associate with the Israeli government was breached.

Christopher Jeans QC, representing Unison, said that if Professor Cristal was allowed to sue on this basis, the case would become ‘completely different and much wider’.

‘No one thinks it will be an edifying experience to argue about Palestine, boycotting policies and the like. We say this a huge issue which is unsuitable to be debated in the courts. Our point is simply this: the court should be wary of releasing this tiger as an afterthought’, Mr Jeans warned.

John Hendy QC, for the Trust, said the reason Cristal had been banned from the event was because ‘he had in the past conducted negotiations on behalf of that [Israeli] government’, the court heard.

Mr Hendy defended the actions of Unison and the Trust.

‘Is it maintainable that Professor Cristal’s association with the government of Israel – namely the fact that he in the past had conducted negotiations on behalf of that government – is that an association which is protected by Article 11?’, Mr Hendy asked.

Now it looks here that Professor Cristol is trying two lines of attack. He is saying that he has been racially discriminated against on the grounds of his being Jewish or Israeli and that he is being denied his right to freely associate with the Israeli government.  Now in the first instance the finding of FUCU I that:
a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness
 is relevant here.  They might be safer with the freedom of association thing.  It's certainly less tenuous but do people have freedom to associate with a rogue state and not be excluded from equal opportunities environments because of that association?  And if they can, why did Cristol's lawyers lead on the racial discrimination argument?

We'll know soon enough.

PS: Still no sign of Anthony Julius.  I wonder why they didn't use him...

PPS: Actually there has been a sighting of Anthony Julius.  See last week's Jewish Chronicle

October 05, 2013

VFM from No2VAG

Eh?  That's Value for Money from the No to Veolia Action Group.  Rob Langlands explains in the Islington Tribune:
AFTER more than a three-year procurement process to contract out the management of waste from north London, the North London Waste Authority chief Councillor Clyde Loakes dramatically U-turned last week.

When I analysed the sparse information made public by the secretive NLWA over a year ago, I was astonished to discover that costs for north Londoners, including people in Islington, would almost triple under his leadership to more than £4billion.

I made my findings public in the Tribune, along with the potential for at least £1billion savings.
In his response, the NLWA chief derisively claimed I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Last year, I and No2VAG informed Islington Council and all the other boroughs of the reckless plan to waste such a colossal sum of money in these times of immense financial pressure.

Belatedly and after spending at least a further £5million of public money on “expert” investigation, Cllr Loakes now admits the NLWA could save £900m by simply cancelling his grandiose plan.

Yet the top people in the NLWA continue with their £100k-plus salaries in spite of overseeing the throwing away of more than £10m on highly-paid expert consultants.

Meanwhile, Cllr Loakes is re-elected as NLWA chair to preside over this mess. While he has introduced
fines for spitting in public, he is now virtually spitting in the face of the many north London residents who were convinced of the lunacy of his grandiose rubbish plan.

The fantastic result of these £1billion savings gives me great satisfaction, though initially my main reason for examining this waste plan was the No2VAG campaign against Veolia’s bid for the £4.7billion contracts, which shows that fighting for justice for Palestinians can benefit Islington.

Secretary, No2Veolia Action Group

So boycotting Israel's collaborators can make political, moral and financial sense.  Good news!

October 04, 2013

Final Call! This Weekend in London: SOAS Palestine Society 9th Annual Conference – Self-critique Two Decades After Oslo – 2013

Twenty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, much continues to be written about the structural and subsequent failings of the Accords to achieve justice for the Palestinian people. While conventional views still regard Oslo as a winning formula that only suffered from a lack of implementation, critical analysis of the Oslo process agrees that the Accords only accelerated the Zionist settler colonial project, allowing Israel to lay siege and further expand its grip on Palestinian land, while expelling and destroying the lives of more Palestinians. This conference aims to move beyond this critical consensus and identify the internal failures prior to, and at the moment of, the conception of the Oslo Accords, as well as in its aftermath. In doing so, we will attempt to understand how Oslo has transformed Palestinian life and struggle. The conference situates itself within a long history of self-criticism after defeat – a self-criticism aimed at assessing the strategic failures of the movement, and formulating the necessary steps ahead. This is a self-criticism premised on a commitment to the political rebuilding of the Palestinian liberation movement, and the struggle against settler colonialism.

In its embrace of self-criticism, the conference will focus on the ways Palestinian leadership and elites have become embedded in the logic of settler colonialism, embraced neoliberal capitalism, and reproduced social and political accommodation of the Oslo process. However, it also aims to widen our lens, and examine the growing socialisation and reproduction of Oslo logics in Palestinian political and social life, and the ways in which Palestinian resistance against Oslo and Israel, and international solidarity with that resistance, has reproduced the very conditions it seeks to overturn. In particular, we hope to highlight the context and consequences of the re-orientation of the liberation struggle into a legal and rights-based approach; the political, geographical, and social separation of the Palestinian body politic in movement discourse and strategy; the proliferation of an unaccountable “political solution/vision market” and unchecked practices of solidarity; and growing alienation and distancing of Palestinians from others engaged in similar struggles against settler-colonialism.

With this conference, SOAS Palestine Society hopes to build on its long-standing commitment to rigorous movement thought and analysis in an emancipatory space.

Check the Conference Programme here: soaspalsoc.org/conference/programme/
 self-critiqueIllustration by Nidal El-Khairy (http://nidalelkhairy.blogspot.be/)

Israel’s academic standing: mediocre and getting worse

This just in from Irish academic and JSF co-blogger, David Landy:

One reason we are always told that we can never ever boycott Israel is because of its sterling academic reputation. Israel, we have heard on countless occasions, is a paragon of science, medicine and humanities. If we boycott Israel we’ll be boycotting the cutting-edgiest of high-tech, the most miraculous research in medicine, the inventors of… well, just about everything

Well, it seems that such talk of Israeli academic excellence is pure propaganda. 

The TimesHigher Education Supplement   which ranks universities has come up with its 2013-14 ranking, and in it we find that Israel is virtually nowhere to be found. Two Israeli universities are in the top 200, and only barely. They are the Hebrew University at 191st, and Tel Aviv University at 199th.
How bad is this? By way of comparison, Ireland with a population of four million to Israel’s eight million, has two universities in the top 200 – Trinity College Dublin at 129 and University College Dublin at 161. Ireland has three more universities in the top 400 – about what you would expect from a small developed country. As such, it is doing far better than Israel, which has only one other university (the Technion) in the top 400.
Although one should take such rankings with a pinch of salt, they do indicate something. In this case, they show the deteriorating state of Israeli academia, especially in the sciences. This was a central message in the Ha’aretz report on the topic. As it stated ‘No Israeli school made it into the top 100 in the health category…No Israeli universities made the top 100 list for life sciences or physics’.
Nor did they feature in the humanities or social sciences. The best they did was the Technion coming in at 69th in terms of engineering and technology. It comes as no surprise that Israel is still hanging in there when it comes to developing weaponry, (and is still being financially supported by the EU in this research). However this does not alter the overall picture of mediocre Israeli universities being underfunded and declining.
One can argue that it doesn’t matter how good Israel’s universities are – they should be boycotted anyway. This is true. But these figures do undermine a central argument used by the anti-boycotters.
So in future when Zionists start going on about the world grinding to a halt and science stopping if we so much as think of boycotting Israeli academia, we can point out that this is nonsense. Scientifically speaking, that is. 

David Landy is the author of  Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel. (Zed Books. 2011)

October 01, 2013

Paul Robeson Art is a Weapon Festival starts today!

A bit late with this one but here goes:

‘Here I Stand! Paul Robeson, Jewish people, Palestine’
As part of the
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower St, Covent Garden, WC2H 9NP

Selma James is an anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist campaigner and author. In 1972, she founded the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and in 2000 she helped launch the Global Women's Strike which she co-ordinates. In 1975 she became the first spokeswoman of the English Collective of Prostitutes. She is a founder member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (2008). Her anthology Sex Race and Class, The Perspective of Winning (2011) has had rave reviews. Ms James is a contributor to the Guardian, and is acknowledged as a riveting public speaker.

Cristel Amiss, founder member of Black Women’s Rape Action Project, will be also be speaking at this festival on Wed 2 October 6.10pm.
Go to Tristan Bates Theatre Website for booking info
 Full programme: http://cmr.tayoalukoandfriends.com/art_is_fest/speakers%20page.php