A Jewish applicant to a teacher training scholarship in the UK was quite surprised when he was told that a Jewish woman who was dismissed from her university teaching position by the Nazis was “too white to be diverse,” The Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported.
Izzy Posen, a 27-year-old graduate of Bristol University, recently applied to the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications for a £26,000 scholarship for teacher training.
At his interview, he was requested to provide an example of a “diverse mathematician.” He responded by naming Emmy Noether, a prominent member of the math department at the University of Göttingenin in Germany in the 1930s who fled to the US after the Nazis dismissed all Jews from university positons.
The interviewer told him that “she’s white and we asked for someone who is diverse.”
“So I said, ‘I don’t think that a Jew in Nazi Germany in the 30s is not diverse,'” Posen wrote on social media. “Her response was, ‘You did say Germany, which is a white country, and your pupils might not know about the Holocaust.'”
Posen told the JC: “I was very taken aback, I was very shocked. I mentioned Emmy Noether because she’s genuinely a role model, and I thought that somebody who overcame great difficulties is an inspiration for lots of women, Jews, and everyone.”
“He said the interviewer had responded: ‘Your pupils might not know about the Holocaust, so they’ll hear Germany, they’ll hear white, so this won’t be representative for them.'”
“He said: ‘Why was [a question about] a diverse set of backgrounds taken to be specifically to be about ethnicity, and specifically non-white? For me, a diverse set of backgrounds meant somebody who overcame lots of odds; the system was rigged against them.”
“So, Emmy Noether, a woman, who even today are very underrepresented in maths, especially then, who literally couldn’t teach under her own name, who got expelled for being a Jew, so there’s nothing more diverse than that. There’s nothing more of an inspiration for somebody who overcame lots of odds.”
He said he felt that “I wouldn’t be appreciated for the odds I’ve overcome, I wouldn’t be accepted as a Jew. I’m not enough.”
David Rich, head of policy at the Jewish Community Security Trust, said that Posen’s story is not a rare one, unfortunately.
“This is awful, and not isolated,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve heard other examples from adult educational settings of the Jewish experience being excluded from discussions of racism and exclusion.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)