Leeds University fails to discipline professor who brazenly flouts IHRA definition on Twitter

Ray Bush has compared Israel to Nazi Germany in social media posts


A Leeds professor who openly revels in breaching the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism and urges others to do the same has yet to be disciplined by the university.

Ray Bush has compared Israel to Nazi Germany in social media posts that appear to breach the antisemitism code signed up to by Leeds.

Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) wrote to the university’s bosses more than a year ago to draw attention to the shocking tweets by the professor of African Studies.

In August 2017, he posted: “#nazi-zionistalliance #zionism #settlercolonialism hold onto power whoever you align with.”

The following July he posted: “Does it take a Nazi to recognise a Nazi #nazi #israel #racism?” He has also repeatedly invited others to breach the IHRA definition. In September 2018 he said: “#DefyIHRA the state of #Israel is a #racist endeavour.” The same month he added: “#defyIHRA the state of Israel is a racist endeavour. The IHRA definition of antisemitism is a threat to free expression.”

When the posts emerged last year, Leeds Jewish Society said he was in “clear violation” of the IHRA definition and called upon the university to act over “antisemitic comments made by Professor Bush on Twitter”.

The JSoc President Grace Silverstein said: “It’s very worrying seeing a staff member with so much influence spread such hateful speech.”

CAA campaigners now claim Leeds University’s commitment to IHRA has been “laid bare” as hollow by their failure to discipline Mr Bush.

The university acknowledged the complaint but there is “no evidence” any investigation has ever taken place, CAA claim. Prof Bush’s academic profile on the Leeds website links to his Twitter account.

Former Leeds Secretary Roger Gair told the JC he was asked by the university's Vice-Chancellor to examine social media posts made by Prof Bush between 2017 and 2018, using IHRA as part of his frame of reference.

Mr Gair said: "I am satisfied that the posts in question were neither unlawful nor antisemitic.

"In reaching that conclusion, I have taken into account that Professor Bush has publicly and unequivocally rejected antisemitism in all its forms; that he has apologised for causing offence; and that there is nothing in the posts themselves that could reasonably be taken to exhibit hostility towards Jewish people as Jewish people."

Prof Bush said: "I unequivocally reject antisemitism in any form. My political beliefs and activism are shaped by advancing anti-racist agendas, supporting decolonisation, and defending struggles for global justice.

"It is never my intention that any of my social media comments could be interpreted as antisemitic, that is, as a manifestation of hatred towards Jews."

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “What is vital is that universities actually apply International Definition of Antisemitism when allegations of antisemitism arise…

“These tweets are clearly in breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism. Anyone airing and disseminating dangerous antisemitic views is not fit to be entrusted with the responsibility of teaching young people.”

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