Palestinian Lecturer Suspended Over Charges Of Anti-Semitism

Another victim has been identified by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which critics believe has fueled a campaign against academics who are critical of Israel.

Sheffield Hallam University has suspended Palestinian lecturer Shahd Abusalama from teaching due to an anti-Israel social media remark. Meanwhile, the university has launched an investigation into Abusalama after receiving a complaint. She will be barred from teaching until the investigation is completed.

The social media post that led to Abusalama’s suspensions shows the Palestinian scholar defending a first-year student who had created a “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust” poster. It was claimed that the post was anti-Semitic. The university did not name the group or person who filed the complaint that resulted in her suspension, but Abusalama, who is from Gaza, has been vociferous about pro-Israel groups’ push to remove her.

“The Zionist defamation campaign by Jewish News, Campaign Against Antisemitism and Jewish Chronicle joins a historical pattern where the Zionist colonial narrative is consistently privileged over the narratives of the oppressed,” Abusalama said, adding, “I’m shocked that my academic community seems more interested in protecting its reputation than my academic freedom & wellbeing.”

Abusalama defended the student by citing Jewish individuals who have made the same analogy, stating: “I understand why a first-year university student used #Holocaust when thinking of Israel’s repeated bombardment of Gaza,” adding: “Maybe she thought she’d garner European sympathy for Palestine by evoking ‘Never Again’ slogan.”

A Sheffield Hallam spokesperson defended Abusalama’s suspension in the Times of by saying that the university “has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism” and that it was “committed to ensuring an inclusive culture for all of our students and staff.”

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has seven examples that amalgamate criticism of Israel with racism towards Jews. One such example is “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

This is not the first time the UK has struck down on pro-Palestine academics. Professor David Miller was controversially expelled from Bristol University last year after a hostile campaign by pro-Israel “proud” Zionist groups accusing him of anti-Semitism. Despite the fact that Miller was found not guilty in two independent investigations, his expulsion was upheld. The Union of Jewish Students is one such pro-Israel lobby organization (UJS). The organization calls itself a “proud” Zionist organization.

The extremely contentious International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism is undermining freedom of expression, according to a group of attorneys and retired judges. In January 2021, they asked the British public to defend universities against government efforts to impose the concept on institutions of higher education in a letter to the Guardian. Prior to this, over 300 students have signed a declaration expressing great concern over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and urging UK colleges to defend their ability to raise awareness of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians. Critics, including the definition’s original drafter, have long warned that the IHRA would stifle free expression, that it had been weaponized, and that it would lead to a witch hunt against academics who were critical of the occupation state.

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