Sheffield and the weaponization of antisemitism.
Those of us who have opposed South African Apartheid, the various Nazi and fascist groups all our lives take an accusation of racism very seriously. Three cases have come up recently that highlight how accusations of antisemitism are used not to counter racism but to silence expressions of sympathy and support for the Palestinians and to restrict criticism of Israel.
Case one: Sheffield University Palsoc used the word Holocaust. They did not claim that it didn’t happen. They did not state that it was not a crime, both of which would be grounds for an accusation of antisemitism. Palsoc’s position is that it was a terrible thing and that they did not want genocide to be inflicted the on the Palestinians. The placard was, in fact, not displayed but a complaint was made by a student. The Students Union’s disciplinary panel accepted that the placard did not intend hostility to Jews but, nevertheless, instructed Palsoc to make a public apology for it and for Palsoc members to go on an antisemitic awareness course.
Case two: Shahd Abusalama was a PhD student at Sheffield Hallam. We cannot go into the full details due to a non disclosure agreement. Three issues are in the public domain mainly as a result of a scurrilous article in the Jewish Chronicle.
1. Shahd was accused of antisemitism and was found not guilty in February. She was subsequently, given a job as associate lecturer..
2. “However, shortly afterwards she became the subject of a fresh complaint by a Jewish student, and the university commissioned a second investigation by human rights barrister Akua Reindorf.”
3. The article does not reveal the outcome of the investigation, but tells us that Sheffield Hallam’s deputy vice chancellor, Richard Calvert said “She is no longer an employee of the university. She’s not worked for us for a number of months.” Calvert and the paper did not mention the fact that she was cleared of antisemitism. Thus, two failed accusations of antisemitism ended with her not having a job and a gagging clause.
Case three: Edward Sutherland, religious education teacher and ex-Convenor of the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (COFIS), used a pseudonym to post antisemitic material on Facebook in a fruitless attempt to insinuate that they came from Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). At Sutherland’s disciplinary hearing in front of the Scottish Teaching Council, Hallam law lecturer Lesley Klaff defended him circulating blatantly antisemitic material . Clearly protecting a fellow Zionist was more important for Klaff than opposing antisemitism and she has not
been censured by Hallam for bringing the university into disrepute.