Palestine Society cleared of wrongdoing after complaint about Facebook post

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Rhys Harper
News Editor

The Glasgow University Palestine Society has been cleared of wrongdoing by the University of Glasgow after several students complained formally about a post on the society’s Facebook page.

The original post from the society, uploaded on the 9th June, refers to the recent terrorist attacks on a shopping mall in Tel Aviv.

The post attacks what it considers double standards within Israel over civilian deaths: “When the Israeli soldier Elor Azarya murdered a wounded Palestinian, it was not murder. Netanyahu waited patiently, and even when it was quite clear cut murder, he denied categorically the possibility that “our soldiers” could be “murderers”.

The post continues: “And terror? The terrorising of a whole population? What, us? Who says that? Rabid blood thirsty anti-Semites? Oh, judge Goldstone, the Jewish Zionist head of the UN fact-finding mission to Gaza? Oh don’t worry, we’ll put him in his place and show him the price of being a ‘moser’ (snitcher) against the Chosen Ones.

“When someone condemns “our” terror, they are out of their minds. And most of it, the daily terror afflicted [sic] upon Palestinians, will never even be registered by CNN. But when it’s merely possible that it is Palestinian terror – then we can’t be fast enough to condemn. And it’s always too weak. Always too little. Always too slow. Murder, terror, you can’t be explicit enough.”

The Glasgow University Jewish Society (JSoc) has criticised the University for not taking disciplinary action against the Palestine Society for the Facebook post. Outgoing JSoc Secretary, Marcell Horvath, told The Glasgow Guardian: “The University – with the notable exception of University Security, who have been the greatest allies to Jewish students – has done very little to resolve this situation. Many of us feel that Jewish students are not awarded the same degree of protection as other minority groups because we are numerically insignificant and generally don’t cause enough trouble when threatened.”

Horvath expressed disappointment in the Palestine Society’s reaction to the Tel Aviv attacks, commenting: “We received word […] from Vice Principal John Briggs that the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit did not think the post in question fulfilled the legal definition of anti-Semitism or incitement to violence after seeking legal advice.

“Many Jewish students, however, know that the Palestine Society used highly anti-Semitic language and, unfortunately, it did so not for the first time. The Jewish Society does not concern itself with Israel as a political cause. There is a deep connection between Jews, Judaism, and the Land of Israel, and we do think it’s important for students to explore that relationship. Nonetheless, ordinarily the Society is not interested in public political debate on the matter. What concerns the Jewish Society is when the Palestine Society promotes violent organizations which adhere to aggressive ideologies targeting not simply Israeli security forces but Jews in general, or when it engages in rhetoric which is hostile to Jews.

“We have watched the Palestine Society push material and events with thoroughly anti-Semitic implications for a long time now. These included calling the fringe group Neturei Karta “real Judaism” for its opposition to Zionism; inviting Mick Napier, who was due in court that same week for racially aggravated trespass and encouraged students to disregard anti-Semitism; having Max Blumenthal at GU, who was highlighted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for his anti-Semitism; hosting Greg Philo, who claims that the “Zionist lobby” controls the media; applauding the current quasi-intifada, in effect an indiscriminate spree of violence, as “popular resistance;” indicating that outfits such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or Hamas, which are extremely hostile to Jews, are “resistance movements” (in your newspaper, for example); lionizing terrorists such as Leila Khaled, Chana Shalabi, or Samer Issawi; suggesting that Jews wish to take over the Temple Mount, a charge which has led to violence continuously over the last century; or justifying the actions of the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, an ISIS affiliate in Gaza.

“We are committed to free speech and believe that the Jewish Society should not use the charge of anti-Semitism to silence criticism of Israel, which is why we have been relatively silent. But what we don’t need is the Palestine Society telling people what “real Judaism” is or promoting violence and anti-Semitism under the guise of a human rights campaign. The issue with the Palestine Society’s post is that it signals the entrance of classical anti-Semitism into supposedly progressive politics, and this can be described only as devastating intellectual cowardice. The post supposed a universal Jewish hostility towards non-Jews, suggested that Jews “take care” of snitches, and explained the recent Tel Aviv attacks, which claimed the lives of four guests at a cafe, as a rightful Palestinian response. This is not what a policy discussion or a human rights movement looks like.”

A spokesman for the University of Glasgow said, “The University of Glasgow has a zero tolerance policy on racism and we take any allegations of anti-Semitism extremely seriously. We are committed to a campus where open and honest debate can take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance.”

Repeated attempts made by The Glasgow Guardian to reach the Glasgow University Palestine Society for comment have not yet received a reply.

You can read the original Palestine Society post below.

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