Sheffield lecturer boasts of partying with ‘beautiful’ terrorist

Shahd Abusalama also appeared to celebrate rocket attacks on Israel


A controversial lecturer newly appointed by Sheffield Hallam University boasted about meeting Palestinian plane hijacker Leila Khaled at a party, calling her a “beautiful fighter”, the JC can reveal.

To the astonishment of Jewish students at the university, Shahd Abusalama — who has a history of inflammatory public statements about “Zionists” and terrorists — was cleared to teach two weeks ago, following an investigation into her social media activity.

Now analysts working for media monitor Camera have uncovered further shocking posts by the lecturer.

In 2020, Ms Abusalama wrote that she had met Khaled at a party in Turkey, adding: “Am I really spending time with the woman I have always imagined to be as big as the universe?”

Referring to the terrorist as a “beautiful fighter”, she added: “The same one who became a symbol of the Palestinian revolution in her glory, hijacking airplanes and shaking the Zionist entity and the world?”

In another Twitter post in Arabic from 2013, Ms Abusalama also appeared to celebrate rocket attacks on Israel, saying: “By Allah, with the resistaaaance! #Gaza.”

The JC can also reveal that the legal defence mounted for Ms Abusalama during Sheffield Hallam’s investigation was provided by a deeply controversial NGO, the European Legal Support Centre (ELSC).

The ELSC was founded by the Amsterdam-based advocacy group The Rights Forum, which sparked outrage last week when it tried to force Dutch universities to reveal their ties to Israeli and Jewish bodies.

Khaled terrorised international air passengers in the 1960s and 1970s with two notorious hijackings of planes travelling to New York and Tel Aviv.

A long-time leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a terrorist organisation in Britain in 2014, Khaled remains an icon in much of Palestinian society.

In 1970, during a failed hijacking attempt, she removed the pin from a grenade but it failed to detonate.

Ms Abusalama, who is due to teach a course on “post-colonial media culture”, has also written posts praising Palestinian terrorists as “heroes” and declaring that “Zionists… buy presidents”.

Two weeks ago, the JC revealed that Ms Abusalama’s father was convicted of terrorist offences in Israel and sentenced to life imprisonment there in 1972.

Jewish students branded Sheffield Hallam University a “hostile environment for Jews” over the decision to employ Ms Abusalama as an academic.

Tory MP Theresa Villiers said: “It is very disturbing that Ms Abusalama shows no regrets regarding her deeply offensive statements. I understand why students submitted a complaint.

It is worrying that Sheffield Hallam have not listened. The university needs to look at this case again if it is going going to live up to its obligation to provide an inclusive environment for its undergraduates.”

After Ms Abusalama was reinstated, she thanked the ELSC for their help and wrote on Twitter: “This victory is yours”.

The ELSC, which was founded in 2019 by The Rights Forum and is based in its Amsterdam offices, aims to “develop effective legal defence strategies…against disinformation [and] smear campaigns.”

The Rights Forum was recently denounced by Pinchas Goldschmidt, the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, as having a “dystopian, antisemitic core” after it tried to force Dutch universities to reveal ties to Israeli and Jewish bodies.

Rights Forum director Gerard Jonkman, who sits on the steering committee of the ELSC, put in a freedom of information request to force the disclosures.

Mr Jonkman said he intended to uncover “organisations that propagate support for the State of Israel”.

But Jewish communal bodies, such as the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, were also included.

Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs, said: “The clear inference is that some shadowy Zionist-Jewish cabal is operating in the Dutch university system. This reeks of antisemitism, but it comes as no surprise to me given this group’s reputation."

The Rights Council said their request for data was “a legal and democratic procedure”.

Ms Abusalama and the ELSC were contacted for comment.

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