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July 29, 2022 4:53 pm

Jewish Student Suing Leeds University for Failing Paper Too ‘Sympathetic’ to Israel

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds in England. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A British student has filed suit against Leeds University for discrimination and negligence, alleging that she was blocked from completing undergraduate studies in sociology and pursuing a masters degree because of a term paper that was not sufficiently critical of Israel.

“This is not the first case we’ve come across of students’ being marked down for expressing views sympathetic towards Israel in essays and dissertations,” Jonathan Turner of UK Lawyers for Israel, the lead attorney on the case, told The Algemeiner on Friday. “The amount of distress this has caused is enormous.”

According to court documents, during her senior year in 2021, Danielle Greyman enrolled in a course — “State Crime and Immorality” — for which the only assignment was a 4,500-5,000 essay on its subject. She submitted a paper about how Hamas, in governing the Gaza Strip, has victimized Palestinians and, the complaint said, “benefits from the conflict with Israel and the contribution made by the United Nations to Hamas corruption.”

Greyman alleged that despite confirming the topic and scope of the essay with the course’s professor and tutor, their assistants gave the assignment a low grade of 35, followed by a failing mark for the course, which was the last Greyman needed to graduate.

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“The defendant’s staff would not have marked an essay so harshly if it had criticized Israel without criticizing Hamas, or if it has criticized one party to a different international conflict without criticizing another party,” the complaint alleged. “Since a Jewish student would be more likely to write an essay critical of Hamas than a non-Jewish student [the] defendant’s staff thus applied a criterion or practice which puts Jewish persons at a particular disadvantage when compared with persons who are not Jewish.”

The decision forced Greyman to complete a revised paper while appealing her grade — ultimately prevented her from attending Glasgow University, she argued, which had conditionally accepted her as a graduate student. Although an independent examiner later ruled that Greyman’s essay met the criteria outlined in the assignment prompt, the appeals process dragged on for a year and she has yet to resume her studies.

“I’ve studied sociology since GCSE. It was very much my passion, I wanted to become a sociologist,” Greyman told the UK’s Jewish Chronicle on Thursday. “After this happened I had an entire meltdown where I was like, my dream isn’t going to happen, there’s no other career that appeals to me, what I am going to do, where am I going to go. I don’t think returning to sociology is an option.”

Speaking to the JC, a University of Leeds spokesperson “strenuously” denied Greyman’s accusations of antisemitism, and declined to comment further on ongoing litigation.

Turner told The Algemeiner that Leeds University formally granted Greyman her degree on Thursday. Greyman’s suit is seeking up to 10,000 British pounds in damages and is ongoing.

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