Warwick lecturer directs students to JVL website after ‘antisemitism’ claims

Warwick lecturer directs students to JVL website after ‘antisemitism’ claims

Sociology professor accused of sharing 'antisemitic conspiracies' during lecture cited Jewish Voice for Labour in email to students

University of Warwick, Department of Sociology (Credit: Google Maps Street View)
University of Warwick, Department of Sociology (Credit: Google Maps Street View)

A sociology professor accused of sharing “antisemitic conspiracies” during a lecture has advised her students to consult Jewish Voice for Labour’s website. 

The talk, entitled “Viral and Transnational (Palestine),” was delivered on 12 November as part of a module called “Transnational Media Ecologies.”

Dr Goldie Osuri, an associate professor in the sociology department, characterised claims of antisemitism in the Labour Party as “very much an Israeli lobby kind of idea” in a recording obtained by Jewish News.

She said: “So the next time they say that the Labour Party is antisemitic, or you know there are some people possibly that are possibly antisemitic, but the idea that the Labour Party is antisemitic is very much an Israeli lobby kind of idea, the idea that you want to discredit the Labour Party because there is support for Palestine among some members of the Labour Party.”

The Union of Jewish Students and Warwick Jewish Israeli Society said the remark “belittles and diminishes the fears, experiences and concerns of the Jewish community and spreads the antisemitic conspiracy that Jews control the media.”

Notes accompanying a slideshow for the lecture shown to Jewish News contain the following quote: “Palestinians are entirely entitled to resist and oppose the occupation and theft of their homeland by any means they deem necessary.”

Alongside the quote, which was taken from an Al Jazeera article written in 2014 by Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi, the slide notes cite “poems/songs/art/organised activism or militancy” as examples of resistance.

The  Union of Jewish Students and Warwick Jewish Israeli Society expressed concern the quote suggests support “for acts of violence against civilians perpetrated by terrorist organisations”.

A Jewish student, who did not wish to be named, said she left the lecture feeling “very angry”.

“I was kind of shaking with rage in the lecture because you can’t really say anything. I’m not going to stand up in the middle of the lecture where everyone is silent and it’s just the lecturer speaking and say ‘I disagree with you’,” she said. “It’s such an uncomfortable environment to express your thoughts.”

On her university profile, Dr Osuri lists “intersections of Political Sociology, Critical Social and Cultural Theory, Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, and Media and Cultural Studies” among her research interests.

However, a spokesperson for the University of Warwick said: “The researcher concerned sees these assertions as a misrepresentation of her lecture and that those assertions do not include significant context in regard to the matters under discussion.

“There was considerable opportunity during that lecture, and in the following seminars, to discuss and debate what was presented in their totality. Indeed, such discussion and debate is actively encouraged though no such issues were raised at that time.”

Warwick is “committed to ensuring a working and learning environment in which all university members, staff and students, are treated fairly and with dignity and respect.”

Following media coverage of the allegations, Dr Osuri emailed students insisting she had “explicitly explained the distinction between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in the lecture.”

“Anti-semitism against Jewish peoples, I had said, was absolutely wrong in any form and unacceptable. In fact, I had spoken of the terrible anti-semitism that Jewish people had faced in Europe, something that led to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany,” she wrote. 

Referring to Dabashi’s quote, she said she had sought to “speak about the differing narratives between mainstream media and the differing ways in which Palestinians resist (not reducible to terrorism as Hamid Dabashi argues).”

Later on in the email, she added: “It may be of interest to you that there is a group called Jewish Voice for Labour who argue that the claims of anti-semitism against the Labour Party are orchestrated,” including a link to the fringe group’s website.

She said the incident could be “a ‘teachable moment’ for us in this module,” adding that she was “only saddened by the fact that none of these issues were raised in the seminars.”

A joint statement by the Union of Jewish Students and Warwick Jewish Israeli Society said: “There can be no excuse from an academic at such a prestigious university to spread conspiracy theories associated with classic antisemitism.

“No university should allow this rhetoric to be propagated by its employees, let alone taught to students in an academic setting.”

Taylor added: “It is not only deeply saddening but also very worrying that an academic at our university is propagating antisemitic statements.

“For Dr. Osuri to use the platform of an academic lecture to share antisemitic conspiracies and support violence against innocent civilians is disgraceful.

“Only the strongest possible action will give us the confidence that the University of Warwick is a welcoming place for Jews to study.”

Dr Goldie Osuri was contacted for comment.


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