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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

Jewish Student Society Criticises PSS Over Deleted Comments

Updated: May 12

Jewish Soc say comments clarifiying Shabbat practice at encampment were deleted

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo Credit: Fred Byrne

UoA’s Jewish Student Society has criticised the deletion of comments by the Palestinian Solidarity Society, as pro-Palestine demonstrators continue to camp on Elphinstone Lawn.

At the heart of the disagreement is the observance of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest which takes place between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday. 

Several Jewish students criticised the inclusion of an event entitled ‘Interfaith Reflection on Gaza with a Lead Shabbat’ in a recent schedule posted to Instagram by the Palestinian Solidarity Society (PSS).

Comments deleted, say J-Soc

A spokesperson for the Jewish Society (J-Soc), which consists of a small group of UoA students and several external members and is not officially affiliated with AUSA, told The Gaudie that comments made on the post had been deleted by PSS.

A spokesperson said: “We, the Aberdeen Jewish Society, are concerned by the deletion of Jewish students’ comments on the Palestinian Solidarity Society’s instagram account, inquiring about the use of Jewish practices in the camp so we could ensure they were carried out respectfully and appropriately. 

“The Jewish students explained that Judaism is a closed practice, and advised on how to conduct Shabbat. These comments were deleted, and the students' accounts were blocked.”

In response, PSS said that they had deleted a number of comments that were deemed ‘not appropriate’ by members of their team. 

A spokesperson noted: “Our encampment is full of all faiths and we are welcoming everyone. We want to learn and get feedback on how to do things right and in the most respectful way.

“We are always open to people coming to us and giving us ideas on events and hosting them, but what we will not tolerate is an attack or hate towards anyone. 

“Hence why the comments were deleted. We are providing a safe place to talk about anything if it’s about Palestine or faith.”

Members of the J-Soc also expressed frustration that their offer of a joint event with PSS had been declined, with a spokesperson saying: “Our offer to collaborate with the Palestinian solidarity society was also rejected. We are concerned that this lack of willingness to engage will not help to promote peaceful dialogue.”

Offer for joint event declined:

Messages reviewed by The Gaudie show a lengthy conversation between JS and PSS members, in which an offer to host a joint event calling 'for ceasefire' was made. 

While PSS initially expressed interest, they later informed the J-Soc that they would be unable to collaborate due to the group’s support for the state of Israel.

A PSS member told a J-Soc rep: "It is clear we do not agree on what we stand for. This is due to the fact the state of Israel, and as such Zionism, is highlighted, this is not something we can or will align ourselves with...

"We would be open to collaborate in the future with the Jewish community if this is something you'd be willing to seperate away from your society."

However, the J-Soc rep accused PSS of not wanting to collaborate due to the society having Israeli and Jewish members, adding:

"We are more than open to call out the occupation that has been going based on international law. We are also open to call a ceasefire.

"Clearly your definition of Zionism and ours is not the same."

Posters torn down in camp

As the encampment reaches its fifth day, signs of opposition have emerged on campus. Early on Friday morning, a hooded individual was observed tearing down pro-Palestine posters on a wall adjacent to the camp.

A hooded individual was caught on camera tearing down signs on Elphinstone Lawn

The University has repeatedly said that they respect the right for students to protest in a lawful manner.

As University Secretary Tracey Slaven told staff on Monday, "The University respects and supports the right to peaceful and lawful protest.

"Our campus should be a safe space for all, and we are clear that any incidents of harassment or discrimination will not be tolerated."

It is unclear who tore down the signs, and protestors said they did not engage upon being informed of the individual.

University management are expected to respond to the demonstrators' demands on Friday.

More to come.


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