An anonymous letter from a University of Bristol student has been published on Epigram, addressed to one of the student’s lecturers, which criticises an antisemitic article penned by the academic.
The student says that the academic’s article was published in a magazine which “regularly (and proudly) publishes pieces by Holocaust deniers, ‘Jewish lobby’ conspiracy theorists, and 9/11 truthers”.
The article accused “government elites” of “manipulating” the Holocaust, and claiming that we are discouraged from “critical […] thinking” about the Holocaust.
This is umabiguously the language of Holocaust denial. Searching for these words together on Google will yield a plethora of Holocaust denial sites claiming that either Israel or the Western Powers fabricated or exaggerated the Holocaust, or that the Holocaust is “manipulated” to generate sympathy of Jews or for Israel. Both of these positions are antisemitic according to the International Definition of Antisemitism, and it is very hard to see anything else to which such comments could refer.
Given that he apparently begins the article by writing about how, in the student’s words, “criticism of Israel is unfairly stifled by charges of antisemitism”, it seems clear that he means to associate these “government elites” with the state of Israel.
He also claimed that we should stop “privileging” the Holocaust.
The anonymous student laments the fact that her lecturer cannot understand that “‘privilege’ and ‘Holocaust’ don’t belong in the same sentence”.
The lecturer is likely referring to the perception that the Holocaust is commemorated more than other genocides. This is a belief espoused by Labour antisemite Jacqui Walker, who said during Labour Party Conference: “wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all peoples who’ve experienced Holocaust“. However, as was pointed out then, and must be pointed out now, charities such as the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust do indeed educate about all genocides. Sadly, such comments are rarely bona fide attempts to further understanding of other genocides, and are often used to devalue and belittle the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. Additionally, the comments must be read alongside his other statements which hint at Holocaust denial, and in light of this can only be seen as antisemitic.
He also allegedly compares Israel to Nazi Germany, a comparison which is antisemitic according to the International Definition of Antisemitism.
In the University’s response to the letter, they concede that Epigram verified all quotes from the anonymous piece
The University writes that it “believes that freedom of expression and academic freedom are at the heart of its mission. Our approach is to enable and promote free speech and encourage debate of all kinds. This means that there must be an atmosphere of free and open discussion. It also means that occasionally academics will put forward a view that is contrary to the views of others.”
“However, where there are serious concerns about public disorder or the direct incitement of violence or hatred, or where a student feels that they are subject to unacceptable behaviour they should raise this with their personal tutor, warden or Just Ask”