9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Education, Racism and Antisemitism Building II, C5.09

Universities, Anti-Semitism, and "Reasonable" Perceptions of Hostility

The paper begins with an exploration of the right to freedom of expression and the right to political protest in post-Holocaust European society. The paper then considers to what extent S3A (1) The Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 imposes on Britain's universities the duty to ensure a work-place that is free of hostility towards Jewish academics, thereby imposing limits on these classic liberal freedoms of expression and protest. To explore this, the paper examines the statutory test for the creation of a "hostile environment" and the meaning of "reasonable" for the purposes of the statutory section, and considers whether anti-Zionist rhetoric and discourse on campus "reasonably" creates a "hostile environment" for Jewish academics in the context of university life. The paper asks whose responsibility it is to define "hostile environment" and asks what constitutes "reasonable" in terms of perceiving an environment as hostile? The paper answers the question by presenting three possible structures for deconstructing / reconstructing "hostile environment" and "reasonable": a legal structure which considers the place and effect of electronic media and blogs in the working environment; a structure based on narrative and phenomenology which offers personal testimony and experience; and a hybrid structure which demonstrates that the experience of Jews in Europe is inexorably shaped by both holocaust legacy and resurgent anti-Semitism and that, therefore, "reasonable" and "hostile environment" has a specific meaning with respect to Jewish perceptions.