Goldsmiths Student Union say they ‘won’t investigate’ Hirsh antisemitism allegation

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Goldsmiths Student Union say they ‘won’t investigate’ Hirsh antisemitism allegation

Head of Goldsmiths Student Union claims tweets directed at Jewish academic David Hirsh by its president Sara Bafo are 'protected as free speech.'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Goldsmiths lecturer David Hirsh
Goldsmiths lecturer David Hirsh

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.”

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.

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