Skip to main content

UK: Palestinian academic fully reinstated after antisemitism probe dropped

Sheffield Hallam University ends investigation into Shahd Abusalama without clarifying what action had sparked probe
Shahd Abusalama, originally from Gaza, was suspended over alleged breaches of the controversial IHRA definition on antisemitism (Facebook)

Sheffield Hallam University has dropped an investigation involving a junior Palestinian academic who had been accused of antisemitism. 

Shahd Abusalama, who is studying for a PhD at the university, was suspended last month from her post as an associate lecturer at the institution. 

Citing complaints from external bodies, the university alleged that Abusalama had broken the university’s rules, specifically the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. 

Antisemitism: What is the IHRA definition and why is it controversial?
Read More »

Endorsed by the UK government, the IHRA definition has been criticised by academics and activists for curtailing academic freedom and equating criticism of Israel and Zionism with antisemitism. 

Abusalama told Middle East Eye that the accusations followed a thread she posted on Twitter in December on the academic discussion over the origin of the word Holocaust, which was widely retweeted.

Abusalama's suspension led to a global campaign against the move, including protests, open letters of support from academics, and backing from dozens of student organisations across the UK. 

No explanation

Initially, representatives from Sheffield Hallam University met with Abusalama and said it was lifting her teaching suspension. 

The representatives apologised to Abusalama and acknowledged that the investigation into her case had not been carried out properly. 

However, she was not told why she was being investigated and was advised the probe was still ongoing.

UK minister criticised for demanding universities adopt IHRA antisemitism definition
Read More »

But following a further meeting, Abusalama announced on Thursday that the university “will not be progressing with any further investigation” of the claims levied against her. 

“I have been wholly exonerated of the false charges of antisemitism, brought under the unfit for purpose IHRA definition,” Abusalama said on Twitter. 

“I will also be offered a more secure contract that will afford me employee status at Sheffield Hallam University. 

“That wouldn’t happen without your support, so thank you. Let’s keep this going until we see a liberated Palestine.” 

A spokesperson from Sheffield Hallam University confirmed Abusalama's appointment after an investigation.

"After some specific concerns were raised in relation to an individual’s proposed appointment as an Associate Lecturer, we had a duty to fully consider the matters brought to our attention," the spokesperson told MEE.

"An appointment has now been made following the conclusion of a robust HR process." 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.