British Jews have expressed concern over campus anti-Semitism at Oxford following the resignation of the co-chairman of the Labor Party’s student group at the storied university, who claims that his peers had “some kind of problem with Jews.”
In a post on Facebook, Alex Chalmers explained that his decision was made in light of the Oxford University Labor Club’s decision to endorse Israel Apartheid Week on campus, stating that “the attitudes of certain members of the club towards certain disadvantaged groups was becoming poisonous.
“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, or a former co-chair claiming that ‘most accusations of anti-Semitism are just the Zionists crying wolf,’ a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews,” Chalmers lamented.
The use of such phrases are “anti-Semitism masquerading as politics” and are “abhorrent,” the Israeli Embassy in London tweeted on Wednesday.
“The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targeting and harassing Jewish students and inviting anti-Semitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation [movements].”
In a statement published by the Jewish Chronicle, Chalmers’ co-chairwoman Noni Csogor said that while her former colleague was “right to highlight growing anti-Semitic violence in the UK,” and calling it “horrifying” that Jewish students feel unsafe, she felt that since “the Labor Party have always been against racism and oppression in all its forms; this must include the policies of the current Israeli government.”
The remaining leaders of the club will soon meet to discuss how to preserve the club as a “safe haven” for Jewish students and how to deal with statements such as mentioned by Chalmers, she said, adding that she looked forward to “contributing to an ongoing discussion about the complex intersection of justice for Palestine and the safety of Jewish students.”
She also condemned the “silencing of Jewish students,” such as that which occurred last month at Kings College when pro-Palestinian demonstrators disrupted a talk by former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Ami Ayalon.
During that incident, protesters became violent, smashing a window, setting off fire alarms and “a tirade of verbal abuse, inches from the faces of many Jewish students,” according to witnesses.
Jewish groups in Britain and around the world issued harsh condemnations of the student group and the spread of anti-Semitic attitudes in academia.
The Community Security Trust, a Jewish anti-Semitism watchdog, called for a “full and urgent” inquiry into the matter, calling out what it described as a “clear link between extreme hatred of Israel and the kind of anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist attitudes alleged by Oxford Jewish Society.”
“The stench of anti-Semitism now appears to have permeated the Oxford University Labor Club at my old university,” said Jonathan Arkush an Oxford alumnus and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
“As we have often warned, this is in part a direct result of the anti-Israel bigotry, prevalent in the far Left, and in part from the fact that Israel is used as a pretext for racism directed against Jews. The Labor Party and Oxford University must now take rigorous and credible measures to rid themselves of all anti-Semitic and racist elements.”
Britain’s Zionist Federation also called the Labor Party to the carpet, stating that while virulent anti-Semitism used to be associated with “right-wing thugs,” it now appears to be “almost de rigueur amongst left-wing intellectuals.”
“But the rot goes beyond a few bad apples – it’s not surprising that Labor students glorify Hamas when their own party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has described them as a social justice movement whilst inviting them to Parliament.
The views and actions of these supposed socialists are now indistinguishable from those of fascists.”
Long seen as staunchly opposed to Israel, British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn held his first meeting with the senior leadership of organized British Jewry a week ago in which he offered his support for a two-state solution in what appeared to be an effort to mend fences.
Corbyn’s replacement of Ed Miliband, who is Jewish, as the opposition party’s leader in September, worried supporters of the Jewish state who objected to his characterization of the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” and his public defense of an Anglican minister who posted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online.
The politician, who has also has publicly endorsed a blanket arms embargo on Israel and the boycott of Israeli universities involved in weapons research, had previously made waves in 2003 with the publication of an article claiming that Osama bin Laden was framed for 9/11.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents in an online poll on the website of left-leaning newspaper The Independent said on Wednesday that the left has “an anti-Semitism problem.”
According to the World Union of Jewish Students, it is clear that “anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide but especially within far-left spaces and that it is intrinsically linked to growing anti-Israel rhetoric on campuses.”
The group commended an investigation into the matter opened by the national organization of Labor Students and called upon the Oxford University Students Union to also look into the matter.