An Israeli academic is suing one of the UK's largest trade unions, as well as a mental health trust, for racial discrimination, after a his speaking engagement he was due to deliver was cancelled because he was Israeli.
Professor Moty Cristal was due to lead a workshop on "conflict resolution" for managers and union officials at the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust last May. But Cristal's invitation was withdrawn just a fortnight before his presentation, after he received an email informing him that the Unison trade union opposed his presence as a "prominent Israeli academic", and that its members were planning to boycott the event in response.
Professor Cristal is claiming £26,500 (just under $42,500) in damages, which includes his £3,500 (approx. $5,600) fee, plus compensation for "injury to feelings and aggravated damages," according to
His lawyer, Dinah Rose, has said that his treatment amounts to nothing less than racial discrimination under UK legislation which bans unequal treatment on grounds of nationality.
"He is an Israeli national and of Jewish ethnic origin. This case is very important to Professor Cristal.
"It is also a case of considerable general public importance, because it raises the issue of circumstances in which it is unlawful both for public or for private bodies to seek to boycott people because they are Israeli or because of their association with the Israeli state."
She said her client was fighting for "his right to equal treatment without discrimination, particularly without discrimination on racial grounds".
Both Unison and the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust deny the charges against them.
In a similar case in Australia, the Shurat HaDin civil rights group is suing an Australian academic for discrimination over his public support for boycotts against Israelis, citing similar laws banning discrimination on the basis of nationality.
Many critics of calls to boycott Israelis have also cited what they say is proof of the anti-Semitic nature of the campaign, given that only Jewish Israelis, and not Arabs, are subject to boycotts by radical groups.