Leeds University to probe academic who said Israeli embassy ran ‘antisemitic campaign’ against Corbyn

Jewish Society has complained about comments by Professor Ray Bush


Leeds University has promised to act following complaints from its Jewish Society about a professor who alleged the Israeli embassy was partly responsible for an “antisemitic campaign” against Jeremy Corbyn.

In 2017, Professor Ray Bush, an African studies specialist in the university’s School of Politics and International Studies, retweeted a post from journalist Asa Winstanley referring to “the Nazi-Zionist alliance”.

Professor Bush wrote: “#nazi-zionistalliance #zionism #settlercolonialism hold onto your power whoever you align with”.

Mr Winstanley, who writes for Electronic Intifada, was himself retweeting a now-unavailable update from anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein, who was suspended from Twitter in 2018. Mr Winstanley was reportedly suspended by Labour in 2019 but maintained he quit.

In November 2019, Professor Bush retweeted an opinion piece published in Haaretz which argued former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was not antisemitic.

He wrote: “The reason they hate Corbyn of course is because he is anti #Zionist and the antisemitic campaign is ran [sic] by the #Israeli embassy among others.”

In 2018, he retweeted a story about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visiting Israel with: “Does it take a nazi to recognise a #nazi? #Israel #racism? [sic]”

The Telegraph reported that Leeds University had pledged to investigate the complaints. The paper also wrote that Professor Bush denied accusations of antisemitism and said: “The lobby to implement the IHRA definition of antisemitism is struggling to get its ‘internally incoherent and non-legally binding’ report adopted.

“The widely held concern is that the IHRA definition of antisemitism is accompanied by a list of examples which are deployed to preclude any criticism of Israel or the promotion of human rights for Palestinians.” 

A spokesman for the university said: “Our Freedom of Expression protocol is unambiguous on this point and takes into account guidance from the Government and, among other things, the working definition of antisemitism produced by the IHRA."

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