Ethan Saunders, a teacher at the Jewish Free School (JFS), is reportedly facing an inquiry following comments he is alleged to have made during a guest speaker’s lecture to sixth form pupils on Monday.
The comments were reportedly made during the question-and-answer part of a lecture on left-wing antisemitism by renowned sociologist Dr David Hirsh, who had been invited to speak to fifty sixth formers about his new book, Contemporary Left Antisemitism.
After telling students about comments made by figures such as Ken Livingstone and Professor Moshe Machover in which they compared Zionists to Nazis, Dr Hirsh told the JC that “a teacher stood up at the back and, in a fairly kind of belligerent way, said: ‘I don’t agree with anything you said.’ He said that I hadn’t told the whole story to the students; it was a pretty clear allegation not only that I kind of got it wrong, but that I was speaking in bad faith. He said: ‘You haven’t explained to the students about the Ha’avara Agreement and the real collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists. You haven’t explained that it was Israel that was responsible for nurturing Hamas at the beginning, and Hamas is a creature of Israel.’” Dr Hirsh said that Mr Saunders also said that Ken Livingstone was “correct” to say that “Hitler was supporting Zionism” by agreeing to the Ha’avara Agreement, which allowed Jews to emigrate from Nazi Germany to what would become Israel, on condition that they forfeited most of their assets to the Nazis.
The notion that Adolf Hitler was in some way supporting the right of Jewish self-determination in Israel, despite having railed against it, it extremely offensive. The Ha’avara Agreement was nothing more than the formal robbery of German Jews fleeing for their lives.
Dr Hirsh noted: “I’ve no idea what he teaches his students, but I have to tell you that [at this event] what he was clearly trying to teach his students was something which I would worry about. What he was trying to teach them was certainly a cause for concern.”
Today’s Jewish pupils are the leaders of the future, and if this account is true, then it is highly disconcerting that teachers holding such views are given a platform at JFS and we welcome the swift decision to open an investigation.
Campaign Against Antisemitism recently spoke to 200 students at JFS about antisemitism, focussing on the growth of online antisemitism. If you are interested in hosting a speaker please e-mail [email protected].