The chief executive of Goldsmiths Student Union (SU) has insisted his organisation “won’t be investigating” allegations that tweets directed at a Jewish academic were antisemitic in nature.
Ed Nedjari, head of the London university’s SU, claimed tweets posted by its president Sara Bafo, including the claim sociology lecturer David Hirsh was a “far right white supremacist”, are “protected as free speech.”
Jewish News had reported on Thursday how Bafo had tweeted on March 26:”D*vid H*rsh is a far white supremacist.
“All you need to do is read his work and tweets and that’s all the confirmation needed.”
In a further May 11th post she revealed Goldsmiths management had asked the student union trustee board to “investigate me for a tweet I made in response to a Zionist Goldsmiths academic’s explicit racist history and his delegitimisation of ‘Decolonisation’ campaigns.”
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Goldsmiths, University of London, said:”On 10 May 2022 we asked Goldsmiths Students’ Union to investigate messages on twitter after concerns were raised that these could be antisemitic in nature.
“Goldsmiths Students’ Union is an independent charity which has its own policies and processes for investigating and we expect them to follow these.
“Goldsmiths remains committed to supporting all members of our inclusive community and demonstrating there is no place for prejudice on our campus.”
But asked to confirm they had acted on the call by the university to investigate Bafo’s tweets over antisemitism claims, Goldsmiths SU chief exec Nejari confirmed: “Goldsmiths Student Union is an independent charity that believes in justice and inclusivity, as well as freedom of expression.
“In her tweets, Sara was expressing her opinion about David Hirsh, formed via the experience of attending his lectures as a Black Muslim student.
“Sara’s term as SU President has ended. For that reason – but most importantly, because her comments are protected as free speech – we won’t be investigating this matter retrospectively.”
Hirsh, a senior sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, was targeted with the slurs after he criticised the National Union of Students (NUS) “decolonise education” campaign claiming it had an “antisemitic edge.”
Larissa Kennedy, the outgoing NUS president, has labelled the decision to launch an investigation into the tweets as “disgusting” claiming Bafo was doing “anti-racist work.”
Goldsmiths UCU, the official trade union for academics and staff at the institution, has also come out in support of Bafo over the dispute, last week tweeting : “We are 100 per cent behind you Sara.”
On Friday Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl wrote to Hirsh stating:”“On behalf of the Board of Deputies, as well as in a personal capacity, I wanted to express my anger at the disgusting slurs which have been aimed at you from within the institution at which you teach.”
“On behalf of the Board of Deputies, as well as in a personal capacity, I wanted to express my anger at the disgusting slurs which have been aimed at you from within the institution at which you teach.” – Marie van der Zyl @bodpres letter to @DavidHirsh. https://t.co/phbXkOrVJN pic.twitter.com/N51nUv9uhy
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) May 20, 2022
In a statement the Community Security Trust added:”CST fully supports David Hirsh, one of the bravest fighters against antisemitism in this country, and we are appalled that Goldsmiths Student Union will not defend him against these disgraceful slurs.”
Jewish News has contacted Hirsh and Goldsmiths, University of London for further comment.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.