Probe into stu­dent’s anti-Is­rael posts

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN

EX­ETER UNIVER­SITY Stu­dents’ Guild has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into its newly-elected vice-pres­i­dent over al­le­ga­tions she posted an­ti­semitic and an­ti­Is­raeli com­ments on so­cial me­dia.

Malaka Sh­waikh, who is a Pales­tinian from Gaza, was elected un­op­posed to the post with re­pon­si­bil­ity for post­grad­u­ate stu­dents.

But a spokesman for the guild con­firmed it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing “al­le­ga­tions of an­ti­semitism” af­ter a tweet posted on Ms Sh­waikh’s ac­count the day be­fore Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day in Jan­uary this year said: “The shadow of the Holo­caust con­tin­ues to fall over us from the con­tin­u­ous Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine to the elec­tion of Trump.”

In a fur­ther tweet, from 2015, she wrote: “If ter­ror­ism means pro­tect­ing and de­fend­ing my land, I am so proud to be called ter­ror­ist. What an honour for the Pales­tini­ans!”

Con­cerns over the mes­sages were raised by the Cam­paign Against An­ti­semitism to the au­thor­i­ties at Ex­eter.

Ms Sh­waikh told the Devon Live web­site: “I have never de­nied the hor­rific crime of the Holo­caust that was in­flicted upon the Jewish peo­ple, nei­ther have I ever made light of it.

“The tweet in ques­tion was re­fer­ring to how fol­low­ing this geno­cide in Europe, and in an at­tempt at mak­ing amends, Euro­pean pow­ers sup­ported a set­tler colo­nial project which would see Pales­tine wiped off the map.”

She added that “with­out un­der­stand­ing the wider con­text” the “ter­ror­ist” tweet “may ap­pear to be a rad­i­cal state­ment that would rightly raise se­ri­ous con­cerns by both the Univer­sity of Ex­eter and its Stu­dents’ Guild. How­ever, as I will at­tempt to ex­plain, these kind of state­ments by Pales­tini­ans are most com­monly in re­sponse to ef­forts by Is­rael ad­vo­cacy groups and the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to de­monise and de­hu­man­ise Pales­tini­ans.”

The JC has been sent fur­ther pro-Ha­mas mes­sages and pho­to­graphs that have ap­peared on the Twit­ter and Face­book ac­counts of Ms Sh­waikh, who stud­ies in­ter­na­tional law.

In one photo on Face­book she is pic­tured at the bed­side of con­victed Ha­mas ter­ror­ist Ay­man Sharawna in March 2013. Sharawna was ar­rested in Is­rael in 2002 and sen­tenced to 38 years in prison for his role in mul­ti­ple ter­ror­ist ac­tions.

A sec­ond Face­book mes­sage from De­cem­ber 2012, seen by the JC, de­scribes a speech given by se­nior Ha­mas fig­ure Khaled Mashaal as “ex­cel­lent”. Dur­ing the speech, Mashaal says the “Jewish state would be wiped away”.

Ms Sh­waikh did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from the JC.

In a state­ment, the guild said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been launched to ex­plore “al­le­ga­tions of an­ti­semitism”.

Toby Glad­win, the guild pres­i­dent, added: “The Stu­dents’ Guild is a pas­sion­ate op­po­nent of an­ti­semitism in all forms.”

A univer­sity spokesman said the guild was re­spon­si­ble for the elec­tion of stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives. He added that an­ti­semitism was not tol­er­ated at the univer­sity.

The Union of Jewish Stu­dents called on the guild and the univer­sity to take ac­tion to en­sure Ms Sh­waikh’s com­ments did not go un­chal­lenged.

Ex­eter last week be­came the third univer­sity to can­cel an Is­rael Apartheid Week event. A pro­posed mock Is­raeli check­point and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing street-the­atre per­for­mance by the cam­pus Friends of Pales­tine group was banned by au­thor­i­ties as it would “re­strict” stu­dents moving freely.

At Prime Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions on Wed­nes­day, Theresa May said uni­ver­si­ties had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect stu­dents against an­ti­semitism.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion from Con­ser­va­tive MP Bob Black­man on Is­rael Apartheid Week and in­tim­i­da­tion of Jewish stu­dents, she said: “We ex­pect them to have ro­bust poli­cies and pro­ce­dures in place to com­ply with the law and swiftly in­ves­ti­gate hate crime in­clud­ing any an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents that are re­ported.”

The Stu­dents’ Guild is a pas­sion­ate op­po­nent of an­ti­semitism’

Malaka Sh­waikh

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