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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

British University Decides to Not Take Action Against Lecturer Who Said ‘Israeli Lobby’ Was Behind Anti-Semitism Allegations Against Labour

The University of Warwick in Britain decided not to take action against a lecturer who said that the “Israeli lobby” was behind the allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party.

The Jewish News reported Goldie Osuri, an associate professor of sociology at the university, said in a November lecture, “The idea that the Labour Party is antisemitic is very much an Israeli lobby kind of idea, the idea that you want to discredit the Labour Party because there is support for Palestine among some members of the Labour Party.” Her lecture also featured notes arguing that Palestinians should be able to “resist and oppose the occupation and theft of their homeland by any means they deem necessary,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

Osuri later told The Warwick Tab that her remarks were a “a reference to Israeli attempts to infiltrate British politics documented by Al Jazeera” as well as “the attempt to smear any debate or discussion regarding Palestinian self-determination and human rights or criticism of the state of Israel as ‘antisemitism.’ ” She also said that all forms of anti-Semitism are wrong and that she delineated the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in her lecture.

The Jewish student groups Jewish Israeli Society (JISoc) Warwick and Union of Jewish Students (UJS) filed a complaint against Osuri over the lecture, arguing that her “Israeli lobby” comments were anti-Semitic and that her notes essentially justified acts of terror against innocent civilians. However, the university concluded in January that Osuri’s remarks “holds within the principles and values of tolerance and free speech,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Jewish Israeli Society (JISoc) Warwick President Angus Taylor subsequently appealed the decision, only to be sent a letter from University Provost Christine Ennew last week week denying the appeal.

JISoc criticized the university in a Sept. 2 Facebook post.

“Despite clear evidence of problems in the disciplinary proceedings, the University has decided that they know better than Jewish students and communal leaders on what is antisemitic, and come to a conclusion which does nothing to reduce the worries of Jewish students on campus,” the post read. “It’s only become clearer how important it is for minority students to be able to define their own oppression, and for the university to adopt specific definitions of racism like IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism]. The IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism includes “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

We're incredibly disappointed to see the University of Warwick failing to support Jewish students yet again. Despite…

Posted by Jewish Israeli Society Warwick on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

In a series of tweets, UJS alleged that the person who investigated Osuri’s remarks in January, Sociology Department head Virinder S. Kalra, had signed a 2017 letter denouncing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and signed a 2016 letter defending the then-president of the National Union of Students Malia Bouattia. The British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee condemned Bouattia at the time for her past comments calling Birmingham University a “Zionist outpost” and alleged in a report that she didn’t take campus anti-Semitism seriously.

“Warwick University needs to step up, adopt the IHRA definition, protect its Jewish students, and finally start dealing properly with the accusations of antisemitism taking place on their campus,” UJS tweeted. “We will continue to stand by the Jewish students and assist in any way necessary, including by supporting the escalation of their complaint to the office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.”

 

Other British Jewish groups expressed support for JISoc and UJS.

“Another example of the importance of universities adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism,” the Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted. “We join @UJS_UK and Jewish students at @warwickuni in calling for the university to adopt the definition in full, without delay.”

 

Sussex Friends of Israel also tweeted, “We are living in a time that a major U.K. university, @warwickuni, can simply disregard & whitewash the very real & grave concerns of their Jewish students. They would not dare treat any other minority group in this way; if they did they would never be allowed to get away with it.”

The university said in a statement to the Journal, “This complaint has now been through every stage of  the University’s student complaints resolution procedure, and it was not upheld. The complainant may of course now ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) to review this matter, and we understand from reports in the media that they intend to do so. That being the case the University obviously cannot comment further until any such process is concluded.”

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