Wednesday, February 17, 2016

UK: "Jewish students who raised the issue of anti-semitism at the OULC meeting were laughed at and mocked"

Statements from Oxford University Jewish Society (here and here):
Oxford University Jewish Society is saddened by the anti-semitic reports coming out of Oxford University Labour Club, and stands fully in support of Alex Chalmers' decision to resign.

We are, however, unsurprised by this news. It is not the first time that Oxford JSoc has had to deal with anti-semitic incidents within the student left and it will not be the last. It is a significant and worrying issue and one that on many occasions, Jewish students have felt that they are fighting alone. We are grateful that Alex Chalmers has made the statement that he did and has brought the issue of anti-semitism to the fore in a way that Jewish students have so far been denied.

Oxford JSoc strongly rejects any accusation that Jewish students are inventing claims of anti-semitism to discredit Palestinian solidarity politics. This is a repeated trope that has been used to silence Jewish students and it will carry weight no longer. When anti-semitism intersects with Palestinian solidarity politics, it is not the job of Jewish students to be quiet, but the job of Palestinian solidarity activists to rid their movement of anti-Jewish prejudice.

Many of Oxford’s Jewish students who hold progressive views have long felt excluded from left-wing political spaces. Jewish students who raised the issue of anti-semitism at the OULC meeting were laughed at and mocked. It is high time that this issue is confronted. We hope Alex’s resignation triggers a broader awakening amongst student political movements, and that anti-semitism, particularly on the student left, is finally taken seriously

OULC has become increasingly dominated by the radical student left in recent weeks and months. This has been accompanied by a series of anti-semitic statements and incidents. Following Alex Chalmers’ resignation, other OULC members have approached Oxford University Jewish Society with reports of these incidents, which are documented below:

• Several people, all of whom have been on committee, have been known to sing the song ‘Rockets over Tel Aviv’ and have specifically expressed support for Hamas’ tactic of launching indiscriminate attacks against Israel’s Jewish citizens.

• One member stated specifically that it was ‘not anti-Semitic’ to allege the existence of a ‘New York – Tel Aviv axis’ that rigs elections, and said that ‘we should be aware of the influence wielded over elections by high net-worth Jewish individuals’. He also stated that it was ‘not anti-Semitic’ to allege the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy, even though he did not endorse the idea himself.

• One member, then on committee, stated that all Jews should be expected to publicly denounce Zionism and the state of Israel, and that we should not associate with any Jew who fails to do so.

• Several individuals, some who have been on committee, repeatedly used the word ‘Zio’ (a word normally only found on neo-Nazi websites) to refer to Jewish students.

• Several members have alleged that US foreign policy is under the control of the ‘Zionist Lobby’ and when asked if by ‘Zionist’ they simply meant ‘Jewish’ they went very silent.

• One member of OULC was formally disciplined by their College for organising a group of students to harass a Jewish student and to shout ‘filthy Zionist’ whenever they saw her.

In a public discussion on the OULC Facebook group one member argued that Hamas was justified in its policy of killing Jewish civilians and claimed that all Jews were legitimate targets. Several other members, including two former co-chairs and one then on committee, defended the member as making ‘a legitimate point clumsily expressed’.

• Two members of OULC argued that Jenny Tonge, a peer expelled from the Liberal Democrats over anti-Semitism, should be encouraged to join the Labour Party.

Oxford JSoc is appalled by these reports and remains steadfast in its opposition to anti-semitism of any kind. If you are affected by any of these issues and would like to speak to someone, Oxford University Jewish Society and Oxford Jewish Chaplaincy are here to support you.

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