University condemnation after lecturer branded ‘a bitter Jew’ on message board

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University condemnation after lecturer branded ‘a bitter Jew’ on message board

Goldsmiths sociology lecturer David Hirsh came across the hateful message calling for his exclusion on Monday

A Jewish academic at Goldsmiths University in London has described facing unprecedented hostility after the idea of his exclusion for being a Zionist was included on a student suggestions board, on which he was also called “a bitter Jew”.

David Hirsh, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, came across the hateful message on Monday, penned to a noticeboard asking students: “What do you think teaching and learning should look like in 2022?”

In amongst other suggestions, someone had written: “No more David Hirsch, no more Zionism – a bitter Jew.”

Hirsh has taken a leading role in opposing academic boycotts of Israel, and recently drew fire for criticising Jeremy Corbyn as being “intentionally ambivalent” in his handling of incidents of anti-Semitic comments in left-wing politics.

On Tuesday, Hirsh reacted to the abuse, saying: “Some academics teach that Zionism is racism and that Israeli academics should be excluded from our campuses. This person defined me as a ‘Zionist’ and therefore a racist, so thought it appropriate to demand that I be excluded from Goldsmiths. In this case a focus on Jewishness followed quickly from hostility to Israel.”

He added: “I have never experienced this kind of hostility from any student that I have taught and I have often felt humbled that students from all backgrounds and political traditions have been happy to learn with me.”

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths, University of London said: “We condemn this action – this is an unacceptable attack on a member of Goldsmiths staff.

“The university is investigating this incident on the grounds of antisemitism and is making every effort to identify those responsible and begin a disciplinary procedure.

“We are rightly proud of our inclusive community on campus – the university has zero tolerance to prejudice of any kind.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe and supported at Goldsmiths and beyond and we will work with students and staff to ensure this is understood by all within our community.”

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