We are writing you this letter in support of Shahd Abusalama, whom your institution has recently suspended from her post as an Associate Lecturer over false allegations of anti-semitism.
As a Jewish organization, we are particularly alarmed at the misuse of antisemitsm allegations to harm human rights defenders, to violate freedom of expression and to deter students and faculty from speaking out for human rights of the Palestinian people. It is a dangerous trend that must be opposed by all academic institutions that subscribe to values of democracy, freedom and human rights.
This is not the first time in which Palestinian and human rights activists and organisations, advocating for Palestinian rights, are targeted through an organized and systematic defamation campaign. We have even witnessed it recently with British academic David Miller at Bristol University who was sacked despite being cleared of all accusations by two independent investigations commissioned by the university. We even saw this malicious attack targeting actor Emma Watson over a picture expressing solidarity with Palestine. Also our organization has been subjected to similar attacks in Germany.
This repeatedly-used Zionist tactic aims to silence and repress Palestinian voices and their supporters. The smear campaign and the University’s response to it show the power imbalance when it comes to Palestine-Israel, even in Academia, where colonial narratives continue to be privileged over that of the colonised. Shahd has repeatedly emphasised that anti-Zionism is a duty was anti-semitism and all other forms of racism are crimes.
Unlike Miller and Watson, Abusalama is a stateless Palestinian woman of colour with a precarious residency in the UK, making her more vulnerable to such attacks that claim victimhood and legitimacy for the Israeli apartheid regime while deflecting from their relentless crimes against the Palestinians. As a member of the Palestinian nation facing multiple forms of Zionist oppression and violence, she should have the right to criticize the state of Israel, its ideology and practices. The institution’s disregard for Shahd’s wellbeing and academic freedom contributes to denying the Palestinians the right to live without racial discrimination, torture, occupation and arbitrary detention.
For these reasons, we urge you to be part of the solution, not the problem and ensure that Shahd is allowed to undertake her job in a safe environment. We hope that Sheffield Hallam University reverses its decision and apologise for its tolerance to such politicised weaponisation of anti-semitism.
Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (Germany)
Berlin, 27. January 2022