The University of Exeter has ruled that an event by Exeter Friends of Palestine Society must not proceed over fears of “antisemitism or other forms of unlawful discrimination or harassment”. It is the latest university to ban an event for ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ on grounds of antisemitism.
Exeter Friends of Palestine was informed by the university that for the first time in its history it would be issuing a mandatory ban on the event, which consisted of a piece of ‘street theatre’. Whilst the Students’ Guild authorised the event, the university overruled it on “safety and security” grounds, including the risk of “compulsion” which could be interpreted as a loose term for intimidation. When Exeter Friends of Palestine Society appealed the decision, the university’s Provost, Professor Janice Kay wrote to them: “I have been asked to hear your appeal and do not find grounds to accept it.”
The move follows the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by the government following a sustained campaign by Campaign Against Antisemitism, Sir Eric Pickles and others. Minister of State for Universities, Jo Johnson MP, wrote to Universities UK earlier this month asking that all universities be conscious of the definition as ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ approached. Earlier this week the University of Central Lancashire became the first to ban an ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ event, setting an important precedent.
The decision came as Campaign Against Antisemitism released urgent guidance to students dealing with antisemitic incidents during ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’. Students with questions are very welcome to contact our specialist team by e-mailing [email protected].
This news is particularly welcome relief after a spate of antisemitic incidents at the University of Exeter. Last week the university tried to brush off an antisemitic incident in which a “Rights for Whites” sign was found in halls of residence and a swastika was found carved into a door in on-campus halls Birks Grange, with a spokesman downplaying this blatant antisemitic incident as possibly merely “an ill-judged, deeply offensive joke.” This follows another alarming antisemitic incident at the university last term in which students were photographed at a sports club social event wearing t-shirts with handwritten antisemitic slogans. One t-shirt bore the slogan: “the Holocaust was a good time.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism also exposed the antisemitism of Exeter Students’ Guild’s Vice President and trustee, Malaka Shwaikh, who had tweeted that she was “proud to be called terrorist” as well as various tweets comparing Zionism to Nazism, including: “Zionism ideology is no different than that of Hitler’s”. When her support for terrorism and her antisemitism were exposed, Shwaikh deleted her tweets and berated those “attacking” her as simply venting their “Islamophobic” prejudice. We are making a disciplinary complaint to the university, along with a complaint to the Charity Commission.