Leeds graduate sues after college fails for failing to criticize Israel in essay
A University of Leeds graduate has filed a lawsuit against the university for discrimination, neglect and victimization after her essay on Hamas crimes against Palestinians failed because it did not criticize Israel.
Following an appeal and external review, the university reclassified and passed Danielle Greyman’s essay, agreeing that the grading was irregular and that the original essay should have been passed.
The university took more than a year to process Greyman’s appeal and come to a verdict. The long wait prevented her from starting a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Glasgow. The lawsuit was first reported by the London-based Jewish Chronicle.
Greyman told The Media Line that her advisers knew she was writing about Hamas crimes against Palestinians and agreed the essay need not discuss Israel’s role since it analyzed politics inside Hamas. She said that if Dr. Simon Prideaux, a sociology professor at the university and Greyman’s academic advisor for the essay, hadn’t approved her topic, “I would have chosen a different topic.”
In his essay, Greyman referred to Hamas’ use of human shields, writing that it was “a betrayal of the Palestinian people by their government.” The reviewer wrote in response to this statement: “This ignores the fact that the Israeli state is committing acts of violence.”
Dr David Hirsh, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, reviewed the grading and comments on Greyman’s essay. He told The Media Line: ‘This trial is absolutely not a failure. He also said the reviewer’s comments “appeared to have polemical engagement” and did not provide a proper rationale for the failure of the trial.
One of the reviewers of Greyman’s essay was Claudia Radiven, who signed a petition defending Professor David Miller after he was expelled from Bristol University in 2021 for making remarks at a conference that Israel was “a violent, racist and foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing”. and calling Jewish students who disagreed with him “political pawns.”
Radiven regularly shares anti-Israel sentiments on Twitter, including a retweet that read, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Elbit factories are starting to collapse,” from Palestine Action in January 2022. Palestine Action is a group vandalizing factories in the UK. owned by Elbit, an international defense electronics company based in Israel.
UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) chief executive Jonathan Turner told The Media Line that he believes all speakers have the right to hold political views and are free to express them on social media, but “they absolutely have to leave them at the door when it comes to scoring scripts and at the conference…in this case, it’s quite clear that they didn’t.
Turner believes the UKLFI has a strong case against the university since either the advice given to Danielle Greyman was negligent or the grading was discriminatory. He adds that “one of the most striking things about this case is that when Danielle chose to write her essay on the crimes of Hamas, she checked with her tutor if she needed to say anything about it. Israel and he told her no, she shouldn’t…and when the essay was graded by the same tutor, it was graded expressly because he hadn’t criticized Israel.
Hirsh told The Media Line he was aware of student trials at both the University of Liverpool and Goldsmiths, University of London that focused on Israel and had received similar treatment. These students also appealed to their universities for being downgraded due to students who disagreed with students’ views on Israel and anti-Semitism.
Turner identified five lawsuits the UKLFI has been involved in over students facing grade discrimination for their Israel-themed essays, including against the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics.
Greyman sees this problem as endemic to the sociology department at the University of Leeds. She noted that Leeds is one of the five UK universities that receive the highest number of Jewish students, and said the way Leeds is trying to cover up the incident is “shocking and unique…they deliberately don’t see not anti-Semitism”.
The Community Security Trust UK (CST), a British charity which protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats, revealed in a report on antisemitism on campuses that, from 2018 to 2020, 14 antisemitic incidents took place by staff at universities had taken place, including two at the University of Leeds.
The Media Line spoke to CSE director of policy Dave Rich, who said data collected in 2021 revealed a record year for university-related antisemitic incidents, a pattern he saw emerge when Israel was embroiled in regional conflicts, such as the May 2021 conflict with Gaza, when CSE recorded 661 anti-Semitic incidents on campus for the same month.
A spokesperson for the University of Leeds told The Media Line: “The university vigorously denies the charges of anti-Semitism, and all charges will be fully defended. Further comment would be inappropriate given that the matter is the subject of legal action.