Dissemination Report

London Tube

Our Letter went to (most of) England VCs over the last week of January 2021, and the web page containing the letter went live at the same time.  At that time there were 50 some signatures, and approximately 20 more were added since.  A tab soliciting support signatures was added on 28 January 2021, having, to present, amassed an impressive list of 110 supporters, all Israeli academic outside of the UK, including many from Israel.

On 26 January 2021, the letter was brought to the attention of the Rt. Hon Secretary of Education Gavin Williamson. 

In addition to personal dissemination, the letter was posted and shared widely on social media.  It has been referred to in articles, in tweets, and in organizational bulletins, including a Tweet by Hanan Ashrawi (here), the Jewish Voice of Labour (here), the online bulletin of the BDS movement (here), the journalism blog Informed Comment (here), and in a write up by Yanis Varoufakis in the  NLR (here).  Finally, The Times of Higher Education, on 9 Feb 2021 published an article (here) written by Hagit Borer on behalf of the organizing team, putting forth our main arguments and referring to the letter, link included. 

We are greatly heartened by the overall response and attention that the letter has received.  It has confirmed, to our mind, its timely significance for the present debate on the IHRA Working Definition in general, and in Academia in particular.

We are disappointed, however, and rather surprised that not a single national mainstream media outlet has seen fit to publish our letter or to refer to it in any way.  From 18 January to 1 February, and as the list of signatories was lengthening, we contacted the Guardian (twice), The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Currents, The Observer, The Independent, The New Statesman, The London Review of Books, The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Daily Telegraph. We also contacted the Conversation twice (8 and 16 February).  The letter was not published in either of these media outlets, and our communication remained without response. The letter was published, eventually, by Vashti (here with its list signatories reordered).

Discussions of the prevailing pro-Israel media bias both in the UK and in the US (at the very least) abound.  Less discussed, however, is the more nuanced media bias against any perspectives on Israel-Palestine that highlight the diverse opinions within the Jewish community on Israel, or, indeed, the diverse opinions within Israel itself.  Not only our voice, but also that of (non-Israeli) Jewish organizations in the UK whose perspective diverges from that of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has had difficulties finding a home in mainstream reporting.  That the bulk of individuals suspended or expelled from the Labour party on suspicion of antisemitism are themselves of Jewish descent should be highly indicative of the ongoing debate within the Jewish community, and yet that angle remains obscured.  But it is precisely voices from within the Jewish community in general and from within Israeli Jewish society in particular that can burst the fictitious liberal bubble according to which Israelis and Palestinians are caught in “a clash between right and right” (e.g., here and here.)  And it is because that bubble must be burst that we strive to make our voices heard.