Friday, February 19, 2016

UK: 1986 article reports Jewish students are harassed by the National Organisation of Labour Students

When discussing antisemitism, sometimes people think that it's a new phenomenon.  That following the Holocaust, Jews had nothing to worry about.  The reality is that people have very short memories. 

While looking for articles about antisemitism at Oxford University, I ran across this article, published in The Guardian in 1986.   Though thirty years have passed, it reads like it was written yesterday.  

Via Paul Bogdanor's blog:
Jewish students are increasingly becoming the targets of anti-Semitism from far-left organisations and political groups within the National Union of Students (NUS), it was claimed yesterday.
Mr Adrian Cohen, chairman of the Union of Jewish Students, cited a series of recent incidents at colleges and universities where Jews have been subjected to “overt prejudice and hostility.”

He said anti-Semitism had become a common feature of campus politics and originated from far-left groups and the National Organisation of Labour Students (NOLS), the dominant political group within the NUS.

Yesterday Jewish students at the Institute of Education in London wrote to their college authorities asking to be allowed to leave their compulsory student union following outbursts at a meeting on Friday.

The protest follows a series of incidents in the National Union of Students and at several universities and colleges.

The debate at Friday’s meeting centred on a motion by members of the Socialist Workers Student Society (SWSS) seeking to overturn a decision made at the NUS conference in April to ban a badge equating Zionism with fascism, racism and apartheid.

The motion’s proposer, Ms Jane Marriott, said that Zionism was “fundamentally racist,” claiming that “the right-wing death squads of Rabbi Meir Kahane represent the true tradition of Zionism.”

She was opposed by Mr Cohen, who was introduced is a guest speaker from the UJS to jeers and hisses.

One speaker supporting the motion pointed to a group of Jewish students sitting together and said: “We are not anti-Semitic. But those people are believing in some kind of better than thou human beings.”

Angry scenes followed when Jewish students were prevented from making a closing speech. One woman rose to protest, saying that as a Jew she felt intimidated. The SWSS group responded with a loud, ironic “ahhhh.”

Mr Cohen said later that behaviour which would never be tolerated towards black students was being directed against Jews with increasing frequency.

In several campuses, the equation of Zionism with racism has led to attempts to ban Jewish societies, and Jewish students have repeatedly been prevented from speaking in Middle East debates.

Mr Justin Trenner described an experience at Swansea University: “I wanted to speak because this was a subject of Jewish interest. I was stopped by a large majority because I might be Zionist, and therefore racist.”

At Leeds University, an exhibition last term about the holocaust was defaced by slogans claiming that Jews were concentration camp “kapos” in Israel.

During the exhibition, two men burst into the office of Mr Rob Minshull, a union sabbatical officer. He said they shouted “you Jewish bastard, we’re going to sort you out,” attacked him and broke his nose.

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