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The University of Bristol has decided to not take action against Dr Rebecca Gould after a complaint was made by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) claiming an article she wrote in 2011, entitled ‘Beyond Antisemitism’, was antisemitic.

CAA took issue with the article by Dr Gould, a reader in Translation Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Bristol, in which she argues that ‘claiming the Holocaust as a holy event sanctifies the state of Israel and whitewashes its crimes’.

She added that ‘privileging the Holocaust as the central event in Jewish history’ should come to an end, concluding that ‘the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian people’.

According to the International Definition of Antisemitism which is used by the British Government and its agencies, as well as CAA, ‘drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is antisemitic’.

The CAA also contends that allegations which claim that Jewish people, Israel, or the West have used manipulations of the Holocaust to generate sympathy towards Jewish people are ‘chosen to be emotive and upsetting to Jewish people and to generate hostility towards them’.

However, Dr Gould has defended her article and refutes ‘any suggestion that the article contained antisemitic material’. In Dr Gould’s own words, the article ‘discussed the exploitation of the Holocaust by government elites in order to advance certain policy agendas’.

According to Dr Gould, it was intended to act as a ‘rallying call to people of conscience horrified by the slaughter of six million Jews to speak out against injustice everywhere’ and in no way was meant to make light of the events of the Holocaust. Furthermore, she clearly states that she stands ‘firmly opposed to racism in all forms’.

Three Bristol professors, Professor Gene Feder, Professor Havi Hannah Carel and Dr Tom Sperlinger Reader, have written a letter in support of Dr Gould. They argue that there is ‘no evidence’ of antisemitism in the article and the article does not ‘deny or minimise the devastating reality of the Holocaust’.

‘Indeed,’ the letter continues: ‘she is scrupulous in arguing that it should not be employed for political ends, including to justify occupation and treatment of Palestinians in Israel.

‘It would be entirely reasonable if readers disagreed with some of Dr. Gould’s points, but that does not justify depriving her of the right to make them in public and academic spaces.’

The University of Bristol have reviewed the situation and have stated that they have not found Dr Gould’s article to be antisemitic for it ‘does not breach the proper bounds of freedom of speech and academic freedom’, therefore they will not be taking any further action against Dr Gould. 

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