120 want Sheldon to go after clash with Hoffman

November 10, 2011
Dan Sheldon, right, berating Jonathan Hoffman, left, at Leeds JSoc

Dan Sheldon, right, berating Jonathan Hoffman, left, at Leeds JSoc

The Union of Jewish Students has backed its campaigns director Dan Sheldon after more than 120 people signed a petition calling for him to be sacked.

Mr Sheldon clashed with Zionist Federation co-vice-chairman Jonathan Hoffman during a heated debate hosted by Leeds JSoc last week.

The pair had been invited to discuss different approaches to Israel advocacy, but the atmosphere soured after Mr Sheldon accused Mr Hoffman of supporting the English Defence League, a claim he denies.

Mr Sheldon claimed Mr Hoffman was "happy to demonstrate side-by-side with members of the EDL Jewish Division" during counter-protests at the Ahava store in Covent Garden.

He accused Mr Hoffman of "shouting about Hamas terrorism, calling everyone a liar, and disrupting meetings".

But he concluded by asking Mr Hoffman to work with students to defend Israel.

Mr Sheldon's claims elicited an angry reaction from Mr Hoffman's supporters and arguments continued on blogs, culminating with the online petition.

Comments to the petition included those calling Mr Sheldon a "stain on UJS", an "utter disgrace" and pledges to withdraw financial support from the organisation unless he were removed.

Mr Hoffman said: "It is tough enough advocating for Israel without also being defamed by representatives of mainstream community institutions. If UJS is to retain any credibility with pro-Israel students it has to act to remedy the defamation. That they have done nothing to date is unconscionable."

UJS president Dan Grabiner said: "Instead of trying to undermine Jewish student leaders, we encourage those behind this petition to join UJS in standing up against those who seek to spread hatred in our universities."

Last updated: 12:12pm, November 10 2011