University apologises over paper that promoted ‘antisemitic’ theory on Israel

Glasgow University’s postgraduate journal identified ‘failures in scholarship’


A pro-Israel campaigner has welcomed an apology from academics at the University of Glasgow over a 2017 paper he said contained “conspiracy, antisemitism and errors".

The paper appeared in an issue of the Scottish university’s peer-reviewed postgraduate journal, eSharp, in 2017.

It accused Israel of sponsoring a network of advocacy groups in a bid to shape public opinion of the Jewish state in the UK.

The paper claimed to demonstrate “the outworking of Israel’s policy since 2000 to sponsor and resource the growth of grassroots advocacy in the UK, and to coordinate a hegemonic discourse across a range of social platforms.”

But it was updated in May to include an apology notice acknowledging “considerable offence” caused by the contents of the piece.

“This article does not meet those standards of scholarship,” reads the statement signed by eSharp’s editorial team. 

“In particular, this article employs some discursive strategies, including a biased selection of sources as well as the misrepresentation of data, which promote an unfounded antisemitic theory regarding the State of Israel and its activity in the United Kingdom.

“We would like to apologise that our editorial procedures did not identify those failures in scholarship,” it says. 

Blogger David Collier, who criticised the paper in a lengthy post last year, hailed the notice as an “important victory” in a blogpost last Thursday.

“Those who have been sharing the article, those who promote the toxic anti-Zionism contained within its pages – are all promoting antisemitism.

“If anyone argues with this – just point them to the statement on the Glasgow University website. A win is a win,” he wrote. 

A University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of concerns raised around an article published more than three years ago, written by a postgraduate student from outwith the University of Glasgow and peer-reviewed by postgraduates drawn from various UK universities. 

“The University of Glasgow is committed to supporting academic freedom and promoting equality and diversity across campus. As part of that commitment, we have recently agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. The University takes a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism and hate speech of any kind.”  

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