Week of tur­moil on cam­puses

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN

CON­CERNS FOR the wel­fare of Jewish stu­dents at cam­puses across the UK and in Ire­land were mount­ing this week fol­low­ing new claims of an­tisemitism and anti-Is­raeli ac­tiv­ity.

Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity con­firmed it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions that one of its lec­tur­ers had writ­ten an ar­ti­cle in which she claimed the Holo­caust was a “holy event” used by Is­rael to “white­wash its crimes”.

Dr Rebecca Gould, who lec­tures in com­par­a­tive lit­er­a­ture at the elite Rus­sell Group uni­ver­sity, had writ­ten an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled Be­yond An­tiSemitism for the 2011 edi­tion of Counter Punch, an Amer­i­can rad­i­cal pub­li­ca­tion.

At the time, Dr Gould was an as­sis­tant pro- fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Iowa. This week Dr Gould re­fused to re­tract her views — which in­cluded the sug­ges­tion that: “Per­haps the time has come to stop priv­i­leg­ing the Holo­caust as the cen­tral event in Jewish his­tory.”

Dr Gould did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from the JC.

But she told the Daily Tele­graph her ar­ti­cle was a “ral­ly­ing call to ac­tion” for “peo­ple of con­science hor­ri­fied by the slaugh­ter of six mil­lion Jews by the Nazi regime to stand up against all atroc­i­ties and in­jus­tices around the world, in­clud­ing the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries.”

Sir Eric Pick- les MP said her com­ments rep­re­sented one of the “worst cases of Holo­caust de­nial” he had seen in re­cent years and called for Dr Gould to con­sider her po­si­tion.

A spokesman for Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity said the vice-chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Hugh Brady, had re­ceived a for­mal let­ter of com­plaint about Dr Gould’s ar­ti­cle and was “ac­tively look­ing into this mat­ter”.

There was also con­cern at Ex­eter Uni­ver­sity over the un­op­posed elec­tion of post-grad­u­ate stu­dent Malaka Sh­waikh, 25, as the leader of the stu­dent union.

Ms Sh­waikh, who pre­vi­ously stud­ied law and pol­i­tics at Sh­effield Uni­ver­sity and is one of 15 rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the Na­tional Union of Stu­dents NEC, has posted mes­sages on so­cial me­dia com­par­ing the be­hav­iour of the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to the Nazi regime.

A Union of Jewish Stu­dents spokes­woman said: “It is a dis­ap­point­ing but un­sur­pris­ing state of af­fairs that a per­son who has used deeply an­ti­semitic rhetoric on so­cial me­dia can be elected in a stu­dent union elec­tion.

“There is no way that any in­di­vid­ual who com­pares the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to the Nazi regime, a com­par­i­son recog­nised as an­ti­semitic ac­cord­ing to the IHRA [In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Al­liance] def­i­ni­tion of an­tisemitism, can ad­e­quately rep­re­sent the Jewish stu­dents at their uni­ver­sity or in their stu­dent union.”

Last week a swastika and a “rights for whites” slo­gan were found at a hall of res­i­dence at Ex­eter.

Last Septem­ber the same uni­ver­sity launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into one

of its sports so­ci­eties after stu­dents were pic­tured wear­ing T-shirts bear­ing an­ti­semitic and racist slo­gans dur­ing a fresh­ers’ week so­cial event.

In Dublin on Mon­day, a pro-Pales­tinian protest forced the can­cel­la­tion of a talk by the Is­raeli am­bas­sador to Ire­land, Ze’ev Boker, at Trin­ity Col­lege.

Around 40 pro­test­ers from the Stu­dents for a Just Pales­tine group held an hour-long demon­stra­tion be­fore the event was due to take place.

Cam­pus se­cu­rity and the Ir­ish po­lice were not able to dis­perse the crowd and post­poned the event for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

Mr Boker had been sched­uled to hold a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion on Is­rael with the cam­pus group So­ci­ety for In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs. A state- ment re­leased by Is­rael’s em­bassy in Ire­land said it was “hor­ri­fied by the vi­cious ac­tions of the group”.

Pro­test­ers had chanted slo­gans call­ing for the de­struc­tion of Is­rael.

SOFIA, the cam­pus group that in­vited Boker to speak, wrote on its Face­book page that dia­logue was im­por­tant, even with those of dif­fer­ing view­points.

Else­where in Ire­land, one of the or­gan­is­ers of a three-day anti-Is­rael con­fer­ence in Cork, fea­tur­ing a panel of anti-Zion­ist aca­demics, has been forced to turn to so­cial me­dia to warn off an­tisemites and Holo­caust de­niers from at­tend­ing the event.

Dr Piaras MacEinri, a lec­turer at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Cork, is on the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee of the event, which will see aca­demics ques­tion the right of Is­rael to ex­ist.

On Fe­bru­ary 9, Dr MacEinri tweeted: “Cork con­fer­ence on Is­rael WILL TAKE PLACE — Aca­demic event — An­tiSemites, Holo­caust De­niers etc NOT WEL­COME.”

Or­gan­is­ers are cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing a venue for the first two days of the event, after Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Cork, re­fused per­mis­sion for use of its cam­pus.

But UCC has said that the third day of the con­fer­ence can take place within its grounds, pro­vid­ing the or­gan­is­ers sat­isfy health and safety reg­u­la­tions.

An­tisemites and Holo­caust de­niers are warned off

Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity aca­demic Rebecca Gould

Malaka Sh­waikh: stu­dent union leader

STU­DENTS PHOTO: ARI­ANNA SCHARDT

Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin where pro­test­ers forced the can­cel­la­tion of a talk by Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to Ire­land

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