Community leaders "disturbed" that Warsaw ghetto vandal was part of antisemitism workshop

Ewa Jasiewicz, who spray-painted anti-Israel messages on ghetto wall delivered training for Britain’s biggest education union


Ewa Jasiewicz of Poland poses after the memorial service to the victims of the Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid ships at the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on June 3, 2010. The nine victims were all aboard the Turkish ferry, Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the aid flotilla, where most of the violence occurred in Monday's pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

The Board of Deputies said it was disturbed to learn an activist who sprayed “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto was helping to organise “Understanding Antisemitism” workshops for Britain’s biggest education union.

The communal group wrote to the National Education Union after it learnt that Ewa Jasiewicz was part of workshops on antisemitism when her own behaviour would be considered “profoundly antisemitic” by most Jews. 

Ms Jasiewicz and another activist, Yonatan Shapira, spray-painted “Liberate all ghettos” and “Free Gaza and Palestine” on one of the remaining walls of the Warsaw Ghetto in 2010.

At the time, Yad Vashem said the graffiti was “tainted with antisemitism”, while the Community Security Trust condemned it as an act of “arrogance and callousness”.

Communal groups reacted in horror to news that the 43 year-old has been behind three recent sessions called “Understanding Antisemitism”, held for members of the NEU.

Two Jewish NEU members told the Jewish News they were “absolutely sickened” by the decision of the union to allow Ms Jasiewicz to organise antisemitism training sessions for members.

One said: “This says everything about the NEU’s attitude towards its Jewish members.

“It’s no wonder hundreds of teachers and teaching staff have decided to quit the NEU in recent months.

“How is the wider membership meant to gain a proper understanding of what antisemitism actually is, when a woman like this is in charge of sessions aimed at teaching the truth about anti-Jewish racism.”

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said: "To have someone with this track record organising antisemitic training workshops is simply grotesque. There are a number of outstanding Jewish communal organisations in the UK which provide training on understanding antisemitism and I am sure that gad the NUE been in touch with them, they would have been very happy to arrange such sessions and we would be very happy to recommend them to you."

She said having Ms Jasiewicz involved in antisemitism training made a “mockery” of what is “often referred to as the worlds oldest hatred.”

As part of preparation for one workshop which took play in May, Ms Jasiewicz directed NEU members to “core reading” material produced by the controversial American group Jewish Voice For Peace which she said challenged “common Eurocentric understanding of antisemitism.”

The first workshop event the week before had featured speeches by Keziah Berelson and Eran Cohen. Ms Berelson campaigned in favour of BDS while president of the JSoc at Edinburgh University, while Mr Cohen described himself as a “pro-Palestinian non-Zionist.” 

Speaking to the Jewish News Ms Jasiewicz said: “The sessions on Understanding Antisemitism were commissioned and run by the North West Black Members Organising Forum which I as an NEU staff member support and provide the Zoom platform for and communication with members.

“The workshops were part of a series of anti-racist workshops that they have organised. The workshops themselves were devised and run by Eran Cohen and Keziah Berelson.”

In 2018 Ms Jasiewicz withdrew from at event organised by the Momentum organisation at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool after her actions at the Warsaw Ghetto emerged.

The NEU has seen a number of Jewish members quit the Union over its one sided stance on the recent conflict in Israel and Palestine, including at least 25 individuals at JFS school. 

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