A sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths in London with a track record of attacking Palestine solidarity activists has smeared a students’ society as running a “Don’t Buy from the Jews Week.”
Writing for Engage, the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) group he helped set up, David Hirsh recounts an email exchange with a student from the University of Leicester (UoL) where he turns down an invitation to participate in a debate on Israeli apartheid, part of the UoL Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s activities for Israeli Apartheid Week.
Hirsh can turn down or accept whatever invitation he feels like – but rather than simply politely decline, he launched an extraordinary attack on the student, telling her:
I am an anti-racist, and therefore am reluctant to participate in your Don’t buy from the Jews week.
In his blog post - also cross-posted at the widely read Harry’s Place site, Hirsh sums up the response he received back before printing his subsequent reply, in which he accuses the UK-nationwide organization the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – to which the students society is affiliated – of supporting anti-Semites and being “for war.”
I have spoken with the student concerned, and she has given me permission to reprint the email that Hirsh only briefly summarizes:
Clearly there has been a misunderstanding in the information I have been given. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has no wish to offend or misrepresent your views in any way. We would just like to confirm that PSC are not a racist group and we hoped that by having yourself and two other panellists for our event, we could provide students with an interesting debate on the issue of “Israel as an apartheid state” and would have enjoyed listening to your opinions and views on this issue. As a student society, we have a few simple aims and none of these include “educating students in Leicester to believe that Israelis are racists.” We aim to open a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and to promote peace in the region. We are also saddened that you have this view in regards to our society. We shall call this a big misunderstand and would like to thank you once again for your help.
Hirsh, of course, does not respond to being called out for his misrepresentation. Speaking to me, the Leicester student said that while Hirsh “is entitled to his opinion and his belief … he has no right to undermine others opinions and disrespect my right to freedom of expression.”
For a university lecturer to use an online public forum to smear students as racists may be appalling – but it is perhaps not a surprise coming from a man who called academic boycott a “Jew-hunt,” and who participated in an Israeli Foreign Ministry-hosted conference on anti-Semitism that was chaired by settler Avigdor Lieberman and dealt with plans to fight BDS.