A professor at the University of Birmingham is on record claiming both that she is Jewish and also that she is not Jewish.
Prof. Rebecca Gould, who previously taught at the University of Bristol, was one of numerous signatories to a letter calling on the German Government not to equate the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement with antisemitism. The signatories to the May 2019 letter all described themselves as “Jewish and Israeli scholars”.
Meanwhile, in a 2019 academic article titled ‘The Palestine Exception to Academic Freedom’, which she co-authored with fellow academic Malaka Shwaikh, Prof. Gould said: “I am not Jewish according to any widely accepted definition”.
Prof. Gould went on in that article to explain: “On my father’s side, I am of Jewish descent. My father’s ancestors were born in Lodz, in what was then the Pale of Settlement within the Russian empire and is now a part of Poland. They migrated to Australia in the nineteenth century, in search of new opportunities, before arriving in the US, where they became perfect capitalists, converted to Catholicism, and changed their name from the Jewish Goldstein to the gentile Gould to improve their economic prospects. Such is the extent of my ancestral link to Judaism.”
The discrepancy in Prof. Gould’s biography was brought to the attention of Campaign Against Antisemitism by a concerned member of the academic community. Prof. Gould has not responded to our request for comment.
Prof. Gould is apparently prepared to identify herself as Jewish in order to try to lend authority to a matter that impacts the Jewish community (an overwhelming majority of British Jews, for example, feel intimidated by tactics used to boycott Israel) but is much less certain of her Jewish identity on other occasions.
The academic article rightly notes that Campaign Against Antisemitism has criticised both Prof. Gould and her co-author, Dr Shwaikh, in the past. We previously exposed Prof. Gould as having written that “As the situation stands today, the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian people”.
We observed that Prof. Gould’s co-author, Dr Shwaikh, had made various deeply concerning statements, including that “If terrorism means protecting and defending my land, I am so proud to be called terrorist. What an honour for the Palestinians!”; marked Holocaust Memorial Day by tweeting that “The shadow of the Holocaust continues to fall over us from the continuous Israeli occupation of Palestine to the election of Trump”; claimed that “Zionism ideology [sic] is no different than that of Hitler’s”; and wrote that “Hitler did his deed and the Palestinians had to pay for it.” Dr Shwaikh previously claimed through her solicitors that the tweets, sent over a significant period, were the result of a hacking attack, but failed to substantiate her claim when challenged.
If any students are concerned about antisemitism on campus or need assistance, they can call us on 0330 822 0321, or e-mail [email protected].