Sheffield Hallam University corrects itself in the case of Shahd Abusalama

The immediate purpose of this post is to share with readers Shahd’s – @ShahdAbusalama – heartening announcement on Twitter. Plus a few words of my own. But first, Shahd in her own words:

‘We’re celebrating a fantastic victory for Palestine today @sheffhallamuni will not be progressing with any further investigation of the malicious smears that have been levelled against me.’

‘Therefore, I have been wholly exonerated of the false charges of antisemitism, brought under the unfit-for-purpose IHRA definition.’

‘I will also be offered a more secure contract that will afford my employee status at @sheffhallamuni. That wouldn’t happen without your support. so THANK YOU.’


What lies beyond the victory?

For some time it has seemed to me that ‘we’ need to ask ourselves some questions about the nature and scope of ‘our’ response to the IHRA defintion in general. The victory of Shahd is – no word of exaggeration – joyous. But, once the banners are put away for another day, and the protesters disperse, is our task simply to wait for the next assault by the IHRA protagonists, then to gather once more in protest?

Put another way, we know that the Israeli state and its supporters are well-funded and well-organised. Their actions are not simply random eruptions of attack on Palestinians and their allies. Rather, underpinning their individual acts of aggression there is a strategy. So, some questions occur in respect of opposing the IHRA definition and its malign use:

  • Are we acting within a wider, meaningful, overarching, coordinated, strategic approach in combating the IHRA definition and the uses to which it is put?
  • Are we mainly reactive, not sufficiently pro-active?
  • Have we harnessed sufficiently the formidable ethical, intellectual, legal, religious resources that, in principle, are at our disposal?

I think these are important questions – and in posing them, I do not presume the answer. But it seems to me they need to be posed. They need to be posed because, in my view, the IHRA definition represents a strategic threat to the Palestinian cause. It therefore needs a strategic response.

I may make these questions the topic of the next blog article. But in the meantime, I would welcome hearing from people and organisations that think it worthwhile to consider the questions above, and no doubt others.

I have used ‘we’ and ‘our’ in this post. I do this because I’m confident ‘we’ know who we are.

In closing: Hearty congratulations to Shahd. She sparked and led a magnificent campaign.

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About Me

My name is Bernard Spiegal, I write mainly about Palestine/Israel and related issues; sometimes other stuff too


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