Campaign Against Antisemitism has written to the University of Leeds to point out that its website links to a Twitter account with numerous tweets that breach the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Ray Bush, who holds the Emeritus Professor of African Studies and Development Politics, has a profile page on the University’s website that links to his Twitter account.
Last year, Campaign Against Antisemitism wrote to the University regarding Prof. Bush, who was then a Professor of African Studies and Development Politics. Prof. Bush appeared to have tweeted from the Twitter handle “@raymondobush” a large number of tweets that breach the Definition.
There were three types of breaches.
First, the tweets stated that Israel’s existence itself is unacceptable, using the exact language of the Definition in referring to Jewish self-determination as “a racist endeavour”. The Definition states that “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)” is antisemitic. This claim was repeated on numerous occasions:
- “#DefyIHRA the state of #Israel is a #racist endeavour”
- “#defyIHRA the state of Israel is a racist endeavour. The IHRA definition of antisemitism is a threat to free expression | Ash Sarkar https://theguardian.com/commentisfree/”
- “#racistendeavour #warcrimes #Israel join the dots and understand why Israel is a zionist entity and settler colonial regime that exists solely because of US money and European guilt. #endtheoccupation”
- “#Labourparty #NEC big mistake with #IHRA #Israel is a racist endeavour and what about other discrimination? Is NEC recognising defined discrimination and racism of #BAME ? #Corbyn got outflanked by #Zionists time to recalibrate and take offensive against occupation of #Palestine”
- “So, @Keir_Starmer prefers a #LabourParty without @RLong_Bailey. Shane [sic] on him and all the other #labourparty members failing to recognise #zionism as a pernicious #racist ideology promoted by zealots to dehumanise #Palestinians”
- “So it continues, use an anti Semite smear, stop progressive politics #Zionism is #racism amongst other things ….”
- “Of course @MarkSerwotka is right #Israel #hasbara #zionism #racism”
Second, the tweets breached the Definition by comparing Israelis and Zionists to Nazis. According to the Definition: “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is antisemitic. For example, the following was tweeted:
- “Does it take a nazi to recognise a #nazi #Israel #racism ?”
- “#nazi-zionistalliance #zionism #settlercolonialism hold onto power whoever you align with”
Third, the tweets contravened the Definition by claiming that concerns about institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party, which were vindicated by the report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, were due to a campaign run by the “Israeli embassy.” The tweets thus supported one of the oldest tropes used to justify acts of antisemitism: the discredited myth of a Jewish conspiracy in which Jews are disloyal and act as a fifth column against the interests of their home countries. The Definition states that: “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” is antisemitic. This was done in tweets including:
- “The reason they hate Corbyn of course is because he is anti #Zionist and the antisemitic campaign is ran by the #Israeli embassy among others
- “Always rely on @guardian to get it right on #antisemitism thanks for all your help demonising #Corbyn and #Labour the #Israeli embassy will be delighted. Who is next in your mediocre target?”
The University acknowledged receipt of our letter and pledged to revert to us, but not only did the institution fail to do so, but there is no evidence that any investigation into Prof. Bush and the Twitter account bearing his name ever took place. In the meantime, Prof. Bush has retired, and now holds the prestigious position of Emeritus Professor, which means that he is still connected to the University, and the University’s website links to his offending Twitter account.
Neither the University of Leeds nor Prof. Bush responded to requests for comment when approached in April.
As we recently observed, the University’s apparent failure to take any meaningful action against a professor with a record of tweets that breach the Definition laid bare the emptiness of its adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Not only did the University of Leeds apparently fail to take any meaningful action against a professor whose twitter handle appeared to post tweets in breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism, which the University has adopted, but the offending twitter handle is still linked to by the University’s website page. It is bad enough not to apply the Definition when a complaint is made, but it is altogether worse for the University’s official platforms to link to material in breach of the Definition. It is difficult to see how the adoption was anything but a tick-box exercise.”
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].