THERE was no prouder parent than yours truly when one of my kids gained a place at Oxford’s Oriel College. Talk about naches, as my Yiddishe grandmother would say – the word didn’t even come close to describing my emotions.
Alex spent four years amid the dreaming spires (1997-2001), interspersed by a year abroad at St. Petersburg State University and the Sorbonne in Paris, as part of his modern languages degree in Russian and French.
Despite a fanaticism for Manchester City – a subject which could have won him an Oxford Blue if they dished them out for ear-bashing – my youngest son is a likable, gregarious type. So he took to uni life there like the proverbial duck to the nearby River Isis and soon had a rainbow coalition of friends, encompassing all creeds, colors and opinions.
On my regular visits to him – the costly ‘Top-Up Tours’ (think fridge and bank account) – over afternoon tea at the legendary Randolph Hotel, never once did Alex even hint at being the target of anti-Semitism.
Fast forward 14 years and I’d bet the mountain of Pot Noodle I bought him that, if my son studied at Oxford now, his days would be tainted by the stench of the world’s most ancient prejudice.
Because the oldest university in the English-speaking world has become a moral battleground, where the legions of the rabid far Left, spewing their repugnant version of what they deem is ethically acceptable, are driving the forces of liberal rationalism into humiliating retreat.
Which is why the events of last week at Oxford University’s Labor Club (OULC) must signal the last straw and that a line too far has finally been crossed by militants who deserve no mercy if charges against them are proven.  
The rumpus was sparked by Alex Chambers, also an Oriel student, who announced he was quitting as the OULC’s co-chair because a large proportion of both his parish party and the student Left in Oxford “have some kind of problem with Jews.”
It was a courageous stand and one followed up by other, equally gutsy and decent OULC supporters, who sent the university’s Jewish Society a list of incidents they claim fleshed the bones of Mr. Chambers’ righteous indignation. It outed and shamed:-
·         Several senior OULC members singing the song, ‘Rockets Over Tel Aviv’ and support for Hamas’s tactic of indiscriminate attacks on Jewish citizens;
·         An activists who insisted it wasn’t anti-Semitic to say a ‘New York-Tel Aviv axis’ exists, that ‘We should be aware of the influence wielded over elections by high net-worth Jews’ and there was ‘an international Jewish conspiracy’;
·         Certain party members referring to Jewish students as ‘Zios’ (a word more familiar to readers of neo-Nazi websites);
·         Some who claimed US foreign policy was ‘under the control of the Zionist lobby’;
·         A member who was disciplined by their college for organizing a gang to target a particular Jewish student and shout ‘Filthy Zionist’ whenever they saw her;
·       A member stating Hamas was justified in killing Jewish civilians and all Jews were legitimate targets in a discussion on the OULC’s Facebook page;
·         That Jenny Tonge, a peer expelled from the Liberal Democrats for anti-Semitism, should be welcomed into the Labor Party.
However viciously vile all this is, sadly it reflects the sentiment of many of the UK Labor’s recent recruits, who, prior to its change of management, would have remained ostracised on the fringes of the head-banging far-Left, but have now been shown the party’s welcome mat.
Some will say the 'friendly' ties forged by new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, with Hezbollah and Hamas, not to mention him sharing platforms with Holocaust deniers, sent an ambiguous green light to those too inane to differentiate between legitimate criticism of an Israeli government and Jews per se. And they’re probably right.
However, though staunchly pro-Palestinian, Corbyn insists he’s not anti-Semitic and Labor has quickly announced an investigation into the allegations of racist behavior by some in the ranks of the OULC.
But, given the extent of power now wielded by radical extremists – like Momentum, Corbyn’s self-styled Praetorian Guard – in Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, that’s akin to asking the Mafia to decide whether or not it’s a bunch of mobsters.
Instead, what’s needed is an in-depth, far-reaching probe by Oxford University’s governors, if necessary with outside, independent judicial assistance. And, if any or many of the allegations are proven, the guilty should be ‘sent down’ (or, in everyday parlance, booted out), because anything less would be a laughable miscarriage of justice.
Yes, students will be students and being at the cutting edge of radicalism is almost a rite of passage.
And however zealously wrongheaded are some of their ideals, they are entitled to voice them…provided they do not inspire a climate of fear among their peers, shutter debate on opinions others don’t share and breach the law of the land.
Because doing so is the total antithesis of what our liberal universities are meant to embody: the freedom to express, without equivocation, contrasting views and test factual reasoning in a rational way, denying no-one a platform, however bonkers their theories.
Very regrettably, though, we’re witnessing an explosion of venom on campuses worldwide. It’s not anti-black, anti-Muslim, indeed anti anything that richly deserves condemnation, like Russia’s annexation of a chunk of Ukraine, Chinese repression in Tibet or even ISIS’s persecution of Christians.
No, only one state and one people are in its gun sights: the State of Israel and Jews as synonyms for it.
And, thanks hugely to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) malevolence, Jew-bashing has become almost de rigueur for student and faculty radicals at European and US centers of higher educational excellence.
So, in places as geographically diverse as Vassar, in rural Poughkeepsie, New York, to King’s College, whose campuses span London, Jewish students face regular verbal and/or physical abuse, purely for being Jews and regardless of their take on the Israel-Palestinian debate.
Apologies. I said debate when there is none. Because the stunningly right-on, uptight hypocrites of BDS don’t do debate; no, they do thuggery – verbal and actual bodily harm – not democracy over a topic in which they’ve already become hanging judges.
So, from being a movement that questioned Israel’s perceived occupation of Palestinian land and alleged suppression of Arab human rights, BDS had morphed into academia fascism, where no contra view dare be tolerated, let alone voiced.
In fact, its message and bully-boy tactics are no different from the yobs my son’s grandparents faced down in British cities during the 1930s. Except in those days the enemy wore black shirts. 


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