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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 anti-semitism.

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 malicious."

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 anti-semitism.

"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 ensued.

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.

Relevant links
Sue Blackwell's personal pages
The Board of Deputies of British Jews

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UP Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002