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I’m Jewish and I refuse to let Tickell speak for me

The following open letter to Sussex’s Vice-Chancellor was sent to The Badger. We are happy to publish it as indeed we are always happy to publish letters written by students and staff which are sent to our Letters section, whether they be about content in the publication or wider issues. The letters which we publish do not reflect the editorial views of The Badger, which does not have an editorial stance: instead, as a student newspaper, The Badger serves as a platform for the individual views of our contributors.

The following letter is a response to Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell’s email of February 22 titled “respecting different opinions and voices”. The email itself was a response to an opinion piece written by a Sussex student in the Telegraph on February 21.


Dear Badger,

I am a Jewish student at Sussex.

The language of Israeli Apartheid Week was not “deeply upsetting” to me.

   Israeli apartheid is deeply upsetting; it is tragic. First and foremost for those who suffer under that regime, and to those who have been and continue to be affected by it. It is upsetting to me that the administration has taken it upon itself to speak for me, as a Jew, and use my Judaism as a tool to further its agenda of attempting to silence and repress Palestinian activism on campus.

   I attended the Israeli Apartheid Week event “Panel on the Palestinian Struggle”. I felt safe, welcomed and free to engage. I learned a lot that I hadn’t known prior to that event.

VC Tickell and the administration decided to move the Finance & Investments Committee (FIC) meeting, scheduled for Friday, March 3rd, because, according to him, “the elision of financial matters and Israel is unambiguously understood by Jewish students as reinforcing old tropes about Jews and money”. Who said anything about Jews and money? Was anyone talking about that before he brought it up? He continues, writing “Rents and the University’s investment policy have nothing to do with Israel… The umbrella of IAW makes this threatening to Jewish students”.

   To clarify: 1) Tickell made the connection between Jews and money. 2) The University’s investment policy does have something to do with Israel. There is a concerted campaign across the world supported by many Palestinians, Jews and other supporters of human rights to ask universities to ensure they are not invested in companies like HP and Caterpillar, which profit from Israel’s use of deadly force against Palestinians. 3) The “umbrella” of Israeli Apartheid week and the FIC meeting was not threatening to me as a Jewish student. 4) Why did the administration need to move the FIC meeting? Because it would have made people think about Jews and money. But it was Tickell, and no one else, who created that connection. Moreover, I, as a Jew, would not have equated those two things at all; in fact, I’ve argued against how inappropriate his comparison is.

   I tried multiple times to address these above issues with him, but he would not meet with me. This struck me as odd, to say the least, since he has seemed so concerned with combating anti-Semitism, and speaking on behalf of Jewish members of the community.

   Tickell seems to have had a clear plan mapped out, which he has been executing, (although clumsily) proceeding step-by-step in an attempt to connect the Palestinian activism on campus to anti-Semitism.

These attempts, however, put Palestinian students and pro-Palestine activists on campus in a tough situation, as they increasingly face being labelled anti-Semitic, despite Tickell’s clear plan to artificially craft that narrative.

   This is truly disgusting, and even more of a shame because of the reality of anti-Semitism on campus. Tickell hasn’t felt it necessary to even mention or address the fascist stickers placed around the campus; he prefers to point the finger at the wrong people in order to further an agenda, rather than bring attention to the truly damaging and harmful acts taking place on campus.

“We will not tolerate intimidation of anyone for their religious or political opinions about the politics of the Middle East,” writes Tickell. My question to him is who’s intimidating whom?

   I am Jewish and I refuse to allow Tickell, or anyone else, to speak for me, represent my views, or try to use me and my religion to silence others. His attempts to divide and silence us will fail.

Yours,

Ben Rosenfield

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