University bosses branded ‘absurd’ over probe into academic who made fun of Corbyn

Jewish lecturer tweeted mocked-up image of former Labour leader reading to children from notorious antisemitic text


University bosses have been branded “absurd” for launching an antisemitism investigation into a Jewish academic who made fun of Jeremy Corbyn.
Northumbria University says it is “urgently” investigating a tweet by Pete Newbon, a senior lecturer in Romantic and Victorian Literature.

Friends of Dr Newbon say the bizarre plot twist was an “appalling travesty” of the aims of IHRA that was worthy of the surreal children’s classic Alice in Wonderland.
Campaigners against antisemitism on campus have warned Northumbria’s bizarre intervention could put Jewish students at greater risk.
The warning comes after days in which Jewish students have been subjected to a sharp rise in online abuse, intimidation and threats on campus as tensions escalated over the conflict in Israel.
The tweet features a picture of Mr Corbyn reading the famous children’s book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ to children.
Dr Newbon shared an image which made it seem that Mr Corbyn is reading the infamous The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion.
The document is a 19th century forgery created in an attempt to encourage the antisemitic belief that Jews were engaged in a worldwide conspiracy for global domination.
The text above the image, in an echo of the book, says: "A nasty, horrible Zionist! We can't go over him, we can't go under him, we'll have to make an effigy..."
However the author of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, Michael Rosen, has condemned the tweet as "loathsome and antisemitic", prompting calls on social media for the academic to be sacked.
Mr Rosen, who is Jewish, said he was "not in favour of anyone being sacked over this".
In 2019, Mr Rosen joined a number of Jewish signatories who signed a letter praising Mr Corbyn for his “consistent support for initiatives against antisemitism”.
The former Labour leader tweeted that he was “saddened” to see the book image had been manipulated “to suggest (he) would share this disgusting antisemitic falsehood”. 
He described Going On A Bear Hunt as a “brilliant book ..which had encouraged a love of reading in millions of children”.
In its own tweet, Northumbria University said: “We are aware of concerns raised following a Twitter post by a member of staff. @northumbriauni is committed to combatting racial inequality in all its forms and we have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism.  We are investigating the complaints raised as a matter of urgency.”

Dr Newbon, a director of anti-racism group Labour Against Antisemitism, was unavailable for comment, however a friend of the academic said: “This is an appalling travesty, that owes more to Alice in Wonderland than the Bear Hunt.”
Jonathan Hunter, chairman of The Pinsker Centre think tank campaigning against antisemitism on campus, said: “It is absurd and offensive that a Jewish lecturer is being investigated under the IHRA definition of antisemitism for clearly satirising and ridiculing antisemitism within the Labour Party.

“This is an abuse of process which undermines the safety and wellbeing of Jewish students who are currently faced with a barrage of very real antisemitism from individuals who are routinely not disciplined for their actions - it clearly raises concerns of how effective it is for universities to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism in the absence of a proper disciplinary framework for its appropriate enforcement.”
Half of all universities have now adopted IRHA but publicly declared investigations of possible breaches are extremely rare.
While the government plans to introduce a Bill to protect free speech on campus,  left-wing academics and hard left activists claim IHRA is stifling free university free speech.
A grassroots campaign has now been launched by the hard-left of Labour’s grassroots to vote on whether to ditch IHRA at its Brighton conference in September in favour of the more limited Jerusalem Declaration.

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