Graduate sues uni after essay is failed because it didn’t blame Israel

Leeds University graduate Danielle Greyman claims her essay about crimes committed by Hamas against Palestinians was failed because it did not pin blame on the Jewish state


A Jewish graduate is suing Leeds University for wrongly failing her sociology degree because she did not criticise Israel, the JC can reveal.

Danielle Greyman claims her essay about crimes committed by Hamas against Palestinians was failed because it did not pin blame on the Jewish state.

After a review, an external examiner recommended that her assignment mark be improved, giving it a passing grade instead of a fail.

Ms Greyman, who had never before failed an essay at university, was forced last year to resit the module, which she subsequently passed.

However, because she had to wait almost a year for the result of her appeal, the student was unable to take up a place on a Master’s course at Glasgow University.

Her lawyers have now issued a legal claim against Leeds University for negligence, discrimination and victimisation.

Ms Greyman told the JC this week: “It’s been massive emotional damage. I almost had a complete breakdown over this.”

One of the original markers of Ms Greyman’s failed essay was academic Claudia Radiven, who signed a petition defending David Miller after he was fired by Bristol University for claiming that Jewish students were being used as “political pawns by a violent, racist foreign regime”. The petition condemned “concerted efforts to publicly vilify our colleague Professor David Miller” and declared: “Professor Miller is an eminent scholar”.

Legal experts have suggested that the case demonstrates that the University of Leeds could potentially have discriminated against Israelis and Jews.

Speaking to the JC, UK Lawyers for Israel Director Jonathan Turner said: “Jewish students are more likely to write a pro-Israel essay that is critical of Palestinian terrorists, while Arab and Muslim students are more likely to write an essay that is critical of Israel.

“If students are penalised for defending Israel then that may constitute indirect discrimination.”

Such cases in which support for Israel is penalised by markers takes place “a lot”, he added.

After Ms Greyman’s revised mark was confirmed by Leeds, Mr Turner added: “We welcome this recognition that Danielle’s essay was wrongly failed but are appalled by the fact that it has taken a whole year to get this far.

“We are also very concerned that the underlying bias has not been addressed and remains liable to result in discriminatory treatment of other students.”

In her initially failed essay, Ms Greyman referenced Hamas’s use of human shields, saying it was viewed as “a betrayal of the Palestinian people by their government”. The moderator’s note next to that part of the essay said: “This ignores the fact that the Israeli state commits acts of violence.”

Ms Greyman also gave eight examples of antisemitism being taught to children in UNWRA schools in Gaza. These included a teacher who venerates Hitler and others who celebrate knife attacks, kidnapping and ransoming attacks against Israelis.

The markers wrote: “So seven teachers constitute a wave of antisemitism? This ‘evidence’ is also weakened by the admission that the transmission and acceptance of these ‘heinous ideas’ cannot be measured.”

Academic David Hirsh reviewed the formal feedback and said it did not comprise “constructive feedback” but “polemical engagement”.

Ms Greyman said: “I’ve studied sociology since GCSE. It was very much my passion, I wanted to become a sociologist.

“After this happened I had an entire meltdown where I was like, my dream isn’t going to happen, there’s no other career that appeals to me, what I am going to do, where am I going to go. I don’t think returning to sociology is an option.

“I can’t retrain in another subject, I’ve used my student loan, I’ve basically wasted this time in my life. If retroactively I’d known what I know now I wouldn’t have studied sociology.

“It was a field created by Jews, and now the hostility towards Jews and Jewish students is insane. It’s really crazy.”

At least one other Jewish student at a British university, who did not wish to provide her name, is also now considering legal action over discriminatory treatment during her degree.

Ms Radiven did not respond to a request for comment. A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “The University strenuously denies the accusations of antisemitism, although further comment would be inappropriate given the matter is subject to legal action.”

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