An activist who sparked outrage after she sprayed “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto is helping to organise “Understanding Antisemitism” workshops for Britain’s biggest education union.
Ewa Jasiewicz was condemned in 2010 after she daubed slogans on a wall at the site of the former ghetto in Poland where thousands of Jews were imprisoned and starved to their deaths under the Nazis.
Attempting to justify the vandalism – which included the wording “liberate all ghettos” – Jasiewicz said Israel had “co-opted” the Holocaust to serve “agendas of colonisation and repression”.
Jewish News can reveal that in her role as an organiser with the NEU North West Region, National Team, the 43 year-old has been behind three recent sessions called “Understanding Antisemitism”, held for members of the National Education Union (NEU).
Two Jewish NEU members said they were “absolutely sickened” by the decision of the union to allow a controversial figure such as Jasiewicz to organise antisemitism training sessions for members.
One told Jewish News: “This says everything about the NEU’s attitude towards its Jewish members.
“It’s no wonder hundreds of teachers and teaching staff have decided to quit the NEU in recent months.
“How is the wider membership meant to gain a proper understanding of what antisemitism actually is, when a woman like this is in charge of sessions aimed at teaching the truth about anti-Jewish racism.”
Ahead of workshop two, which took place on 20 May, Jasiewicz directed NEU members to “core reading” material produced by the controversial American group Jewish Voice For Peace which she said challenged “common Eurocentric understanding of antisemitism.”
The event was also scheduled to feature the accounts of “four prominent black British Jews discuss their experiences of racism in the Jewish community”.
The first workshop event the week before had featured speeches by Keziah Berelson and Eran Cohen.
While at Edinburgh University Berelson campaigned in favour of BDS while president of the JSoc there and later wrote she was “saddened” the boycott Israeli goods movement was” overshadowed by accusations of antisemitism, which detract from the terrifying rise of fascism on UK and European streets.”
Cohen has also described himself as a “pro-Palestinian non-Zionist” Israel-born Jew.
Jasiewicz told Jewish News: “The sessions on Understanding Antisemitism were commissioned and run by the North West Black Members Organising Forum which I as an NEU staff member support and provide the Zoom platform for and communication with members.
“The workshops were part of a series of anti-racist workshops that they have organised. The workshops themselves were devised and run by Eran Cohen and Keziah Berelson.”
In 2018 Jasiewicz withdraw from at event organised by the Momentum organisation at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool after her actions at the Warsaw Ghetto emerged.
At the time Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Defacing the wall of a ghetto where hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children were imprisoned, starved and eventually sent to their deaths is sickening and shameful”.
The Community Security Trust called the daubing “exactly the kind of obsessive anti-Israel hatred and abuse of the Holocaust that is central to Labour’s problem of antisemitism.”
Jewish News has revealed how scores of NEU members from within the community, including at least 25 individuals at JFS school, have quit the union in recent weeks.
Many have been infuriated by joint NEU leader Kevin Courtney’s appearances at pro-Palestine demonstrations and the union’s one-side stance over Israel and Palestine.
On Wednesday, president of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, wrote to the joint general-secretaries of teachers’ union, criticising them for allowing Jasiewicz to organise sessions. Saying she is “profoundly disturbed” by the “simply grotesque” decision, she said many Jews consider her daubing on the Warsaw ghetto wall to have been “profoundly antisemitic”.
Saying Jewish groups can offer antisemitism training, she urged NEU to ensure in the future it is “given by providers who are widely respected within the Jewish community, rather than people like Ms Jasiewicz and her associates. To do otherwise makes a total mockery of what is often referred to as “the oldest hatred”.”
van der Zyl called on NEU to ensure “this type of activity is not repeated” saying it “not only does it do a disservice to your members, it also tarnishes the NEU’s reputation.
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