The director of the Royal Anthropological Institute has apologised for any offence after an editorial in its journal compared the IDF to ISIS and said the Holocaust was used to justify Jewish extremism. 

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An IDF commander speaks to a group of soldiers

Dr David Shankland was responding to complaints that a guest editorial by acclaimed American professor Laura Nader in April’s edition of Anthropology Today was “blatantly anti-Semitic”.

Nader wrote about “Jewish jihad,” comparing foreign Jews fighting in the IDF with Europeans fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria. She also suggested Jewish Britons returning from military service in Israel were “indoctrinated” and “a threat” but were not listed as such because Israel was a UK ally.

“We apologise for any offence, it is certainly not our intention to cause distress to any persons or community,” said Shankland.

“However, we have a long tradition of giving scholars and editors freedom of expression in our publications. This does not mean we agree with everything which is published… We welcome debate about any article.” 

Nader’s inflammatory remarks were blasted by Jewish community leaders, with Board of Deputies’ Vice-President Jonathan Arkush calling it “grossly distorted”. He added: “We are at a complete loss to understand how the journal thought it fit to publish.” 

Senior figures at the Royal Institute have repeatedly been asked who signed off on the article and how it was justified as fit for print, but no explanation has been given.

An open letter calling for the “end of Israeli occupation and colonisation” and the right of return for Palestinians has been signed by almost 1,000 anthropologists from across the world, who urged colleagues to boycott Israel.

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