Palestinian lecturer has suspension lifted by Sheffield Hallam University

Shahd Abusalama. Pic: 5Pillars

A Palestinian lecturer who was suspended from teaching by Sheffield Hallam University over anti-Israel social media posts has had her suspension lifted.

Shahd Abusalama, an activist and a PhD student from Gaza, met with Sheffield Hallam officials yesterday and took to Twitter to announce the lifting of her suspension.

She said: “I met with Sheffield Hallam HR today, accompanied by my @UCU representatives. The university admitted that there had been issues with the way my case has been dealt with and has reinstated my teaching with immediate effect. I am still considering my response.

“I still hadn’t a sight of the allegations against me, which Sheffield Hallam University has stated that they remain under investigation. @ucu representatives drew attention to the harm caused by the University’s decision to announce the existence of an investigation without my knowledge and insisted that the University should apologise for the way I have been treated.”

She added: “I don’t accept to be under investigation that has the IHRA definition as a framework. Therefore, I will continue to fight to make sure that no one is subject to such treatment that can inflict great mental harm together with long-term complications. That’s why I urge you to continue supporting and resisting.”

Sheffield Hallam University. Editorial credit: Elizabeth Iris

Abusalama was appointed as an Associate Lecturer at the university last month and was expected to start teaching from January 21.

However, she was informed a day earlier about the cancellation of her class while an investigation into alleged antisemitic comments is carried out.

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A university official said that an investigation had been started after they received a complaint against Abusalama, although authorities did not specify the group or individual who filed the complaint.

Abusalama is a high-profile Palestinian rights campaigner and a vocal critic of the definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which says that harsh criticism of Israel is akin to anti-Jewish bigotry.

On its website Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) says that Abusalama shared tweets defending a first-year student who had made a poster that said “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust” and who was accused by a Jewish student of antisemitism.

Ms Abusalama defended the student by citing Jewish individuals who have made the same analogy, and also wrote: “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.”

According to the IHRA defeinition of antisemitism, which Sheffield Hallam has adopted: “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is an example of antisemitism.

Campaign Against Antisemitism added: “She is active in the BDS movement to boycott Israel, the tactics of which an overwhelming majority of British Jews find intimidating, and in the past she reportedly urged people to watch a video on YouTube called ‘Truth About Zionist Jews Talmud,’ which presented numerous antisemitic myths about the Talmud. The video’s description asked ‘Why the Zionist don’t want us to know what’s in Talmud? [sic],’ adding: ‘Why they want the teaching of the Talmud to be known only to Jews.’”

According to CAA, Ms Abusalama wrote on Twitter: “Must watch this video that tells you the truth about #zionist #Jews. They take their legitimacy from #Talmud.” In another post, she reportedly wrote that the “Zionist lobbies control all this for their interest,” adding: “They buy presidents/slaves.”

The video and tweets have since been deleted. Shahd Abusalama says the tweets were written in 2012 when she was writing from under fire in besieged Gaza. For further context read an article by Shahd Abusalama here.

Watch 5Pillars’ interview with Shahd Abusalama here.
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