College slammed for hosting Labour MP suspended for alleged antisemitism

Chris Williamson said the Labour Party has been "too apologetic" about Jew-hatred.

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October 7, 2019 02:33
4 minute read.
College slammed for hosting Labour MP suspended for alleged antisemitism

Second day of the Labour party annual conference in Brighton. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Several Jewish groups and UK Members of Parliament have slammed a decision by the University of Nottingham to host Labour MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended from the party in February for claiming it has been “too apologetic” about antisemitism.

Williamson was readmitted back into the party in June, but was suspended again two days later after a backlash from the Jewish community and Labour MPs. In August, he announced he was suing the Labour Party over its decision to re-implement his suspension.

Last week the University of Nottingham announced that Williamson would speak on Monday in a lecture series on “British Politics in Crisis” hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations.

The Union of Jewish Students together with the Nottingham Jewish Society called the decision “unacceptable,” adding that they were “surprised wholly.”

“Williamson has been suspended by the Labour Party over antisemitism and has a consistent history of Jew-baiting and defending antisemitism,” read the statement. “Williamson has been invited to Nottingham to add a perspective of an individual who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, yet there are plenty of individuals the university could have invited who are not suspended for antisemitism.”

The group said that “decisions to host those suspended from their political parties over anti-Jewish racism are inappropriate, offensive and go against the very ideals of the university,” making it clear that the university “has a proud record of being a welcoming place for Jewish students.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews stood by the Jewish student unions in light of the university’s actions.

In a post on Twitter, the Board of Deputies said that it was “disgraceful that @UniofNottingham have invited Jew-baiting MP Chris Williamson to address students. Williamson – who was suspended from Labour in February – is a wholly inappropriate speaker for any university. We stand with @UJS_UK,” it said, adding that “Universities must reject hate, not host it!”



 
The Jewish Labour Movement said it was “incredibly disappointed by the University of Nottingham’s decision to invite Chris Williamson to speak.

“Williamson has a history of baiting members of the Jewish community and defending antisemitism – so much so that he is currently suspended from the Labour Party,” the movement continued in a short statement. “By platforming Williamson, Nottingham will make many Jewish students unsafe and unwelcome. We join @UJS_UK and @NottinghamJSOC in calling for the event to be cancelled. Jew-baiters like Williamson must not be legitimised.”

 
 
Sussex Friends of Israel called it “utter madness,” saying “the department involved in inviting him must have known of the allegations made against” Williamson, “and the concern his invite would cause Jewish students...but invite him they did.”

UK Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government MP Robert Jenrick said that “the decision of Nottingham University to invite an MP suspended for alleged antisemitism to be a guest lecturer is extremely disappointing.”

Jenrick also called on the university to explain its decision.

The student wing of UK Labour also took to Twitter to hit back at the decision, saying they were in “complete solidarity” with Nottingham JSoc.

“Any uni[versity] that platforms racists is failing to live up to its responsibilities,” said the Labour Students. “There are many other Corbyn allies who could have been invited. Chris Williamson does not represent the Labour Party & this event must [be] canceled immediately.”

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the university defended its decision to invite Williamson.

“While the university is committed to supporting the well-being of all students within our community, we also have a legal duty to ensure that lawful free speech should not be prevented on campus,” a university spokesperson explained.

The university said it “does not in any way condone the actions and statements of Mr Williamson. While we will monitor his actions closely, we also have no reason to believe that he will break the law when speaking on our campus.”


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