UCU sorry after Holocaust Memorial Day memo failed to mention Jews
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UCU sorry after Holocaust Memorial Day memo failed to mention Jews

Trade union for academics apologises over 'drafting errors' after anger from Jewish groups about the 'completely unacceptable' omission

600 candles in the shape of the Star of David are seen during a commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day at York Minster, York, 2017.
600 candles in the shape of the Star of David are seen during a commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day at York Minster, York, 2017.

A trade union for academics has apologised for “drafting errors” after its memo about the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day failed to mention Jews.

It comes after Holocaust commemoration groups said the initial omission from University and College Union (UCU) was “completely unacceptable”.

In its first memo, UCU said Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) remembers Nazi victims including Roma, Sinti, beggars, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, pacifists, black people, disabled people, Freemasons, LGBT+ people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, non-Jewish Poles, and Slavic prisoners, but it did not mention Jews.

The union made headlines several years ago for its long legal fight against Ronnie Fraser, a pro-Israel lecturer, in 2012. He sued UCU, arguing that the union’s boycott of Israeli goods amounted to harassment of him as a Jewish member.

The case was later rejected, the tribunal chair describing it as “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means,” and UCU pursued £580,000 in costs from Fraser and his solicitors.

This week the union said: “We are deeply sorry that an incomplete version of a circular detailing plans for HMD was sent out by mistake, and for the offence this caused.”

A spokesman added: “It was human error. We amended the copy once the error was identified. HMD is an important part of the union’s work in tackling antisemitism and we thank those members and non-members who contacted us over this.”

A later memo sent to members from the union acknowledged that “the systematic murder of six million Jews across Europe begun by the separating and dehumanising of the Jewish people”.

The chief executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust had earlier said: “We were pleased to see that UCU amended the information on their website. They are planning a number of activities for HMD, and we trust that the Jewish victims of the Holocaust will hold a central place within them.”

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