Academic accused of promoting anti-semitism

A university lecturer's personal website has been called into question by
Jewish groups.

Polly Curtis
Friday October 25, 2002


A row has broken out between a Birmingham University lecturer and Jewish
groups over a personal website which the Jewish groups say promotes

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, has written to the university
demanding that they remove links between Ms Blackwell's official university
website and her personal pages. They say links from the site take you to
images glorifying suicide bombing and comparing Israel with Nazi Germany.

Sue Blackwell, an English lecturer, today defended her site saying: "I
would not link to a terrorist organisation - there is no link to a Hamas
website. If I've inadvertently linked to something that glorifies suicide
bombers I would remove it immediately. Nobody has yet told me which one
leads to these images. I think these allegations are groundless and

A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said: "Over the past year, Jewish
students have felt increasingly threatened by anti-Israel and anti-semitic
propaganda on campus which has directly resulted in an increase in campus

"As an academic, Ms Blackwell has a responsibility to the truth and it is
sad that she has allowed herself to become a mouthpiece for recognised
anti-Israel groups. This sort of association serves only to bring the good
name of the university into disrepute, and is completely contrary to the
government agenda of interfaith tolerance and understanding. We hope that
Birmingham University will remove this link as a matter of urgency."

Michael Phillips campaign director for Union of Jewish Students said: "We
are very concerned about academics with such standpoints. It doesn't really
bode well for any English students at Birmingham university. With the
current problems abroad and on our campuses I think it is quite
irresponsible to be promoting those group."

No one from Birmingham University was available to comment.

In April, Ms Blackwell signed up to the controversial academic boycott of
Israel, as she did, she decided to remove links from her site to Israeli
institutions. She let colleagues in Israel know of this and a row then

In a separate case, Mona Baker, of University of Manchester Institute of
Science and Technology is currently being investigated for dismissing two
Israeli academics from a little-known linguistics journal. Ms Baker's
action, and the notion of an academic boycott of Israel caused a furious
international debate earlier this year.


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