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May 29, 2019 3:56 pm

University of Essex Dismisses Professor Accused of Antisemitic, Holocaust-Denying Posts

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The University of Essex. Photo: Jerzy Kociatkiewicz

The University of Essex in England has dismissed a computer science lecturer who was accused of sharing antisemitic posts online and opposing the formation of a Jewish society on campus.

In his posts, Maaruf Ali reportedly warned against the Jewish society’s establishment, writing, “the Zionists next want to create a society here at our university.”

Around 200 students voted against allowing the Jewish group on campus in February, with some airing objections to its willingness to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. The society was ultimately ratified by leaders of the university’s Students’ Union, shortly before about 500 people gathered on campus to rally against antisemitism.

Ali, who was suspended in February, was also accused of sharing images claiming that a protest of Israel was subject to a “total mainstream media blackout by the Zionist mafia,” and that a Muslim police officer who was killed by Islamists in Paris in 2015 was in fact “a Mossad agent alive and well in Buenos Aires” and one of the “crypto-Jews in the service of Israeli intelligence.”

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At least one other image appeared to deny the deaths of six million Jews during the Holocaust, according to reports. The postings were condemned as antisemitic by both the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the main representative body of UK Jewry.

In a statement on Thursday, the university said it “has now completed an independent investigation into the serious allegations made against a member of University staff.”

“Following a tribunal hearing which considered all the evidence the member of staff has been dismissed,” the statement added.

While the university did not disclose the identity of the staff member, Ali told BBC Essex that he was disappointed to be let go, and did not “hate Jews, their religion, people or their culture.”

“My vote was against the ideology of Zionism,” he claimed.

“I don’t hate anyone,” Ali reiterated. “I belong to an organization called the Jewish Voice for Peace, my vote was purely a political vote.”

Daniel Kosky, campaigns organizer with the Union of Jewish Students, applauded Ali’s dismissal in comment to the BBC on Wednesday.

“It’s clear that there has been a culture problem over the last few years,” Kosky said. “Jewish students don’t necessarily feel that the university had been doing enough in the past to combat antisemitism, I think that all came to a head with the vote of the establishment of the Jewish society, of which over 200 students voted against it.”

“Since then the university have been keen to work with us and other Jewish groups … to combat antisemitism and review the experiences of Jewish students, and we’ve been supporting the Jewish students on the ground,” he added.

Also speaking to the BBC, Amy-Julie Fogiel, president of the newly-established Essex Jewish Society, applauded Ali’s dismissal, calling it a “very good step from the university.”

When asked about her experience of everyday life at Essex, she said, “Things are getting better right now, but it’s true that we felt some animosity on campus and some antisemitism at the time of the establishment of the Jewish society.”

“There is some cultural antisemitism at Essex University,” Fogiel added, going on to note that the hostility took form in “jokes about the Holocaust, that’s very present nowadays, and also the come back of some stereotypes about the Jews.”

“It’s going to take some time to change that but we’re working on that,” she said.

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