The Sheffield branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has been criticised for holding an event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day featuring a controversial Jewish academic who holds unrepresentative views regarding the International Definition of Antisemitism.
The event was in fact billed as an evaluation of the Definition. The speaker was Brian Klug, a Senior Research Fellow at St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, who defended the Labour Party’s unacceptable substitute for the Definition.
Among the critics was Holocaust survivor and founder trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Agnes Grunwald-Spier MBE, who insisted that she was “not raising the issue…because I object to controversial views being expressed in a university – on the contrary,” but rather because Dr Klug is reportedly opposed to the adoption of the Definition by universities – “a very useful tool in controlling hate speech against Jews” – his opinions will not be balanced at the event and it is inappropriate to use Holocaust Memorial Day to promote divisive views. “I also object,” she said, “to a day which is supposed to reflect on the lessons of the Holocaust and to remember the many victims of the Nazis and subsequent genocides being hijacked in this manner.”
UCU has a very negative reputation in the Jewish community, resulting from a poor record when it comes to fighting antisemitism, including refusing to adopt the Definition, repeatedly endorsing the antisemitism-riddled Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Jewish State (the tactics of which an overwhelming majority of British Jews find intimidating) and fighting a legal battle against a Jewish academic who unsuccessfully sued UCU for breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Most recently, in October, the union sent an e-mail to secretaries of local branches encouraging them to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January and providing a near-exhaustive list of minority groups persecuted by the Nazis — but failing to include the Jews.