Norwegian Students and Academic unions be warned – here are the first signs of things to come

Boycott-pushing universities, students and academic unions, be warned that from now on, you are going to face court action for your failure to address the rampant racism and anti-semitism that fuel your feverish attempts to single out Israel for academic boycotts. Here you can read the letter from top litigation lawyer Anthony Julius sent to the leader of UCU, Sally Hunt.

In his stinging letter, Mr. Julius among other things says

You will see that I complain, among other things, about the UCU’s year-on-year anti-Israel boycott resolutions (and the conduct of the debates on those resolutions), the moderating of the on-line forum for UCU members, the penalising of anti-boycott activists, the failure to engage with Jewish and non-Jewish members’ concerns regarding these matters, the failure to address the resignation from the union of many of those members, and the rebuffing of the OSCE’s special representative on anti-Semitism.

Conditions for the generality of Jewish members have only deteriorated since then. Further boycott resolutions have been passed; further incontinently anti-Semitic comments on the “Activists’ list” have been posted; there have been further resignations from the union by Jewish members. And if I add to this sorry list the union’s welcoming in 2009 of Bongani Masuku (and its 2010 endorsement of that welcome) it is only because the UCU’s hospitality to a confirmed anti-Semite makes for such a pointed contrast with its inhospitality to its own Jewish members.

The scandal is thus a long-standing one. It is continuous with the history of the union (indeed, it reaches back into the histories of the predecessor unions, the AUT and NATFHE). From its inception, the UCU has been inhospitable to Jews. It persists in its inhospitable conduct – indeed, intensifying it year by year, piling fresh insults upon accumulated insults to its Jewish members.

In a very relevant parallel to the ongoing Norwegian debate on widespread antisemitism in Oslo schools, including academic institutions, Mr. Julius then accuses the UCU of trying to legislate itself out of a hard place by changing the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism:

The recent resolution repudiating an internationally-accepted working definition of anti-Semitism (Resolution 70 / 2011) is among the most recent of such insults. It was a telling development, however.

Unable to defend itself against the charge of institutional anti-Semitism, the UCU sought instead to legislate anti-Semitism itself out of existence.

For although we shall never know the full content of the debate that took place between Norwegian ministers and top politicians and a US delegation of Jews ,when the latter came to inspect Norway and her attitudes to Jews and Israel, it is quite telling that as the delegation left, Eric Fusfield had this to say about Norway’s problematic relationship with Jews and Israel:

I think he (Støre) is aware that the problem exists, and that he is conscious of it. It would appear that people here in Norway have a different definition of what anti-Semitism is than what we have, or at least many of those we have met here. Maybe this is the case also for Støre.

It was also telling that on the heels of the shocking result of a limited poll conducted by the municipality of Oslo, the rector of the University of Oslo lamented that the university had not been diligent enough in protecting Jewish students, and promised a proactive approach from the University to tackle the problem. But this seems like a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, since the Rector only saw fit to share his concerns after a major media focus on the problem, whereas the student paper Universitas featured a story on the Jewish student who was harassed for her religious identity and made to bear responsibility for Israel’s actions, already in February 2011, a full 4 months before the poll confirmed what was already widely suspected.

Following successful litigation on US campuses, the snow ball is now rolling, but rather than the Cohanite chanting, first we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin, it is now a case of First we will sue London, then we’ll crack Oslo!