Manchester University censored the title of a Holocaust survivor’s criticism of Israel and insisted that her campus talk be recorded, after Israeli diplomats said its billing amounted to antisemitic hate speech.
Marika Sherwood, a Jewish survivor of the Budapest ghetto, was due to give a talk in March about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, headlined: “You’re doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me.”
But after a visit by Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador, and his civil affairs attaché, university officials banned organisers from using the “unduly provocative” title and set out a range of conditions before it could go ahead.
Students had booked Sherwood to speak as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of events organised by the university’s student committee of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
The Israeli diplomats visited Manchester on 22 February and met the university’s head of student experience, Tim Westlake. Later that day in an email, Michael Freeman, the embassy’s counsellor for civil society affairs, wrote to Westlake and thanked him for discussing the “difficult issues that we face”, including the “offensively titled” Israeli Apartheid Week.
Mentioning the title of Sherwood’s talk, Freeman said it breached the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. He also made accusations of antisemitism against two speakers booked for a separate event, citing tweets and their refusal to condemn antisemitic behaviour.
“Both of these events will to [sic] cause Jewish students to feel uncomfortable on campus and that they are being targeted and harassed for their identity as a people and connection to the Jewish state of Israel,” Freeman told Westlake. “I would be grateful if you could look into these events and take the appropriate action.”
The correspondence emerged after the Information Commissioner’s Office forced Manchester to disclose…