Students have been shocked by two antisemitic graffiti attacks at the University of Sussex. A grotesque message has been discovered by Sussex Friends of Israel on a blackboard located at Library Square: “Jet fuel can’t melt Jews. Holocaust was an inside job.” In another incident, a poster was defaced with swastikas. The poster, advertising a talk by Yoav and Horit Herman Peled, was titled “The religionisation of Israeli society.”
Student’s Union President, Annie Pickering, was quoted in the university newspaper saying: “The swastikas have scared us as much as anyone else and we are working with students and the university to remove the signs and if possible work out who is behind this.” The Vice Chancellor, Adam Tickell, tried to reassure students, saying: “I want to assure everyone in our community that you are safe here. Whatever your race, religion, gender identity, sexuality or age, or if you have a disability – Sussex is your home and you will be protected from discrimination or abuse. We have taken immediate action in this particular instance and will not tolerate any acts which are illegal or incite hatred.”
Last month, Campaign Against Antisemitism helped to expose an upcoming Friends of Palestine event scheduled at the University of Sussex for 2nd March as part of Israeli Apartheid Week. The event was billed as “Palestine: 100 Years of Settler-Colonialism. 100 Years of Popular Struggle for Justice.” We were extremely concerned by the controversial speakers, Aja Monet and Farid Esack and wrote to the university following requests from a number of students. The event went ahead and our Regulatory Enforcement Unit is now considering taking further action.
Some universities such as the University of Exeter and the University of Central Lancashire showed principled leadership and banned ‘Israeli Apartheid Week events’. A spokesperson for the University of Central Lancashire said that they banned the event for contravening the International Definition of Antisemitism. The University of Sussex should have followed this precedent.
There is clearly a climate of intense concern for Jewish students resulting from ‘Israeli Apartheid Weeks’ at universities across the country, which repeated incidents such as these graffiti attacks are consolidating.
Campaign Against Antisemitism calls on universities to step up their moral and legal obligation to protect Jewish students. We are keen to hear from students who are experiencing antisemitism on campus, or who are aware of recent and future events of concern via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— fiona sharpe (@SharpeFiona) March 10, 2017
— SussexFriendsIsrael (@SussexFriends) March 10, 2017