Antisemitic hatefest fails to ignite at Sheffield Hallam
Israeli Apartheid Week 2016 a damp squib at Britain's fourth biggest university
25 February 2016
We were tipped off that Israeli Apartheid Week would be really big at Sheffield Hallam University in 2016, as it was in the previous two years.
For example, as part of IAW 2015 the students' union Palestine Society (PalSoc) published on social media a flyer advertising a talk on "Israel's Systematic Abuse of Palestinian Children" and the screening of a sick film called "Roadmap to Apartheid".
So (under a different name, as this was a few weeks before our company incorporated) we wrote to the trustees of the students' union, pointing out that Israeli Apartheid Week goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel, its government and armed forces. It propagates blood libels against and otherwise defames the Jewish state, and intimidates and demoralises Jews in general and Jewish students in particular.
We were concerned with the possibility that the union, or one or more of its societies, might see fit to organise IAW events, or to provide help and resources to others organising them.
We asked the trustees to require the union to consult lawyers and/or the university, and to comply strictly with charity and other laws, in connection with any involvement in IAW by the union or its societies.
In the hope that some protection would be given to the university's Jewish students and staff, we requested the trustees' confirmation that the union would not promote or fund IAW, directly or through student societies. Our particular concern was the display and distribution of blood libels, such as posters, stickers and leaflets alleging or implying Israeli abuse of Palestinian civilians in general and children in particular, or otherwise inciting hatred of Israel and Israelis, and which could cause students and others to commit violence against Israeli and Jewish students. We also sought an assurance that the union would ensure that Jewish and Israeli students did not face racism or harassment during IAW 2016.
No reply was ever received from the trustees. This is par for the course, but failure to reply is of little concern to us; we write in order to educate and warn, and we measure our success not by the replies we get (or don't get) but by what happens on the ground.
IAW 2016 proved a damp squib at Sheffield Hallam, and apparently at many other universities too. Few events were held, and no abuses were brought to our attention.
University staff and students: please tell us of any plans you hear about relating to IAW 2017.