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UK tutor escapes disciplinary action over anti-Semitism allegation

UK's Middlesex University [Wikipedia]
UK's Middlesex University [Wikipedia]

In another case cited as an example of the threat to free speech posed by the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, a tutor at UK's Middlesex University has escaped disciplinary action over allegations of anti-Semitism made by the controversial anti-Palestinian group the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA).

Raza Kazim, a course leader for maths PGCE – a postgraduate certification to qualify as a teacher – at Middlesex University, has been informed that he will face no disciplinary action after being accused of falling foul of the IHRA definition. Middlesex is one of several UK universities that have adopted the highly controversial definition.

The IHRA conflates criticism and boycott of Israel with anti-Semitism. It has been sharply criticised by rights groups, lawyers and academics. In a recent campaign to push back against the suppression of free speech, a group of over 200 academics and experts created a new anti-Semitism definition which excludes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and several other examples included within the IHRA that conflates criticism of Israel with hatred towards Jewish people.

READ: Students urge UK universities not to adopt controversial definition of ant-Semitism

Efforts to suppress criticism of Israel through the adoption of IHRA has gathered pace as the occupation state's status as a deeply racist country that practices a system of apartheid has become impossible to dispute. In April, the pre-eminent human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) joined a host of other prominent groups to declare that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution.

Prior to HRW's report, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem branded Israel an "apartheid" state that "promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River." Echoing the UN's 2017 report which concluded that Israel was practising apartheid, B'Tselem dismissed the popular misconception that it is a democracy within the Green (1949 Armistice) Line.

Seeking disciplinary action, CAA, a registered charity, is said to have made the charge of anti-Semitism based on Kazim's WhatsApp profile. "The world stopped Nazism. The world stopped apartheid. The world must stop Zionism. The legacy of settler colonialism is a civilisation of death," the tutor's profile said. His involvement with a UK pro-Palestinian group was also cited in the complaint.

The CAA, which amongst other things monitors IHRA's adoption by universities as well as its implantation, claimed that Kazim's comments equated Zionism with Nazism and thus breached the controversial definition.

Following an investigation, the university was satisfied that the controversial code had not been breached and no action has been taken. "I'm glad that a line has been drawn under this and I can now get on with my job. The university's decision is a great relief to me and my family," Kazim is reported saying following his victory.

READ: 200 academics back lecturer under attack from 'proud Zionists'

Last year CAA's charity status was challenged by critics including Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) who wrote to the Charity Commission. Citing what they said were "defamatory attacks" on former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, they argued that CAA is "politically partisan." Under UK law, charities are not permitted to interfere politically.

JVL claimed that CAA is a "highly politically partisan organisation which does not deserve charitable status" and tax breaks that such status brings.

CAA rejects this and insists that it "is a non-partisan charity dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism across society, including across all political parties, without fear or favour."

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