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British Academia is rife with antisemitism

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Source: Arutz Sheva

By Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

 

Antisemitism
manifests itself in various segments of British society. Politics is a major
such area. Incidents in the Labour party are dominant, but far from the only
ones. Academia is another place where antisemitic incidents occur regularly.
These happen in several universities, including leading ones, as well as
student organizations.

 

The Jewish
defense organization Community Security Trust wrote in a report concerning 2016
about academia that “in 41 antisemitic incidents, the victims were Jewish
students, academics or other student bodies, compared to 21 such incidents
recorded in 2015. Of the 41 incidents recorded in this sector in 2016, 17 took
place on campus, while there were 24 incidents that affected students,
academics or student bodies off campus.” 

 

In May 2016, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said that Jewish students
were faced with a “wall of anti-Zionism, which they feel and know to be Jew
hatred” when they go to university. He added that “university heads should be
‘ashamed’ that ‘Zionist-bashing’ is happening on their campuses.” 

 

Baroness Deech, who held the highest office in the UK dealing with
student complaints, stated that many Jewish students believe that Jews should
not study at a number of universities because of antisemitism. These included
SOAS in London, Exeter, Southampton and Manchester. Several of the accused
universities denied that this was the case. Baroness Deech stated: “the extreme
levels of hostility toward Israel at universities across the country can at
times go so far as to equate to antisemitism.”

 

Jonathan Arkush, the chairman of the Board of Deputies, the umbrella
organization of British Jewry, advised in March 2017 Jewish students not to
enroll at the prestigious London School of Economics. He did so after the LSE
had invited the American academic Richard Falk, a former United Nations Special
Rapporteur to Palestine. 

 

For many years Falk has been inciting against Israel to the
extreme. The Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes a list of the world’s top ten antisemitic/anti-Israel
slurs in the world every year. In 2013 Falk came in third place. He had alleged
that Israel might be planning a Nazi-like Holocaust, had approved of
Palestinian suicide bombings and denied that Hamas was a terrorist
organization. 

 

Antisemitism on campuses and in politics merged at Oxford
University. The public attention to widespread antisemitism in the Labour party
began when in February 2016 Alex Chalmers, the co-chairman of the Oxford
University Labour Club (OULC), resigned because of antisemitism in the
organization. He wrote in his resignation letter: “Whether it be members of the
executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to
websites run by the Ku Klux Klan), with casual abandon, senior members of the
club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their
tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians.” 

 

A year later the National Executive Committee of Labour decided
that no action should be taken against OULC students. Baroness Royall, who had
written on behalf of Labour a report on antisemitism in the OULC said that the
decision will confirm “a widely held view that we do not take antisemitism
seriously.” 

 

At the University of Cambridge there were also antisemitic
incidents. In May 2017, the Master of Christ College admitted that it had
caused “dismay and hurt” to Jewish students by a misleading investigation into
complaints by two Jewish students who had suffered from antisemitic abuse by
members of the college’s sporting societies The initial university cover up was
exposed by the Telegraph daily.

 

In February 2017, leaflets denying the Holocaust were found in
various departments of the University of Cambridge displayed on notice boards
and in communal areas. The university’s ViceA Chancellor, Sir Leszek
Borysiewicz, condemned this and expressed his deep concern. Around the same
time, similar leaflets were found at other universities including the
University College of London, the University of Glasgow and the University of
Edinburgh. 

 

Antisemitic incidents of various nature have occurred at the
University of Edinburgh also in earlier years. In 2011, an Israeli diplomat,
Yishmael Khaldi, was mobbed when he spoke there. In 2012, Israeli Ambassador
Daniel Taub was disrupted by students chanting and waving Palestinian flags.
There were reports of Jewish students leaving their courses at university
because of antisemitism. Some accused the university Board of neglecting the
problem. In 2015, the Edinburg University Student Association (EUSA) scheduled
a debate on boycotting Israel on the day before Passover so that many Jewish
students could not speak against the BDS resolution. In 2016 a poster was found
at the university which said that the Holocaust was a fraud.

 

Antisemitism problems also exist at the National Union of Jewish
Students (NUS). The previous president of the Union, Malia Bouattia, was
condemned by the Home Select Affairs Committee of the House of Commons for
calling Birmingham University a ‘Zionist outpost.’ A year later there was a new
scandal at the NUS when three candidates who held positions on its executive
committee or were candidates for them were accused of antisemitic
comments. 

 

Against this background it is not surprising that the antisemitism
definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which was
adopted by the British government is not liked by antisemites and their allies
in the academic world.  The IHRA definition has for instance been rejected
by the University and Colleges Union, which has 110 000 members and a long
history of anti-Israel incitement. The above is only a selection chosen
from many more issues.

 

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has been a long-term adviser on
strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in
Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement
Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.