In the wake of the sudden resignation of a student leader at Oxford University in protest over rampant anti-Semitism, reports have emerged indicating that the prejudice against Jews was not a new phenomenon.
On Monday, Alex Chalmers, co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), quit his position when the group decided to endorse Israel Apartheid Week. Shortly afterwards, the Oxford Jewish Society (Oxford JSoc) announced that it had been receiving many reports reflecting a longstanding pattern of anti-Semitism within the OULC. The matter is now to be investigated on the national level, with Labour MP John Mann calling on his party to sever its relations with the Oxford student club, and sending a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to this effect.
Chalmers explained on Facebook that the endorsement of Israel Apartheid Week was merely the tipping point, noting several previous incidents that contributed to his decision to leave club as follows:
[M]embers of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan), senior members of the [OULC] expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and … their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former Co-Chair claiming that ‘most accusations of antisemitism 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.
In response, the Oxford JSoc immediately wrote a post of its own on Facebook: “We are… unsurprised… It is not the first time that Oxford JSoc has had to deal with antisemitic incidents within the student left and it will not be the last.”
A few hours later, the Jewish student organization posted a more detailed message, describing the many reports it had been receiving of long-term antisemitic behavior at the OULC, including comments made by senior members, such as: “Filthy Zionist,” “All Jews are legitimate targets of Hamas” and “We should not associate with any Jew who fails to denounce the state of Israel.”
These reports then triggered a wave of subsequent responses. The Israeli Embassy in London released a sharp statement, noting,
The Embassy of Israel is appalled by reports of antisemitism, intimidation of Jewish students, and support for terrorism against Israel at the Oxford Labour Club. We would not expect such disgraceful activity from any morally upright person — let alone students at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Antisemitism masquerading as politics is abhorrent. It must be recognized as such and condemned by all.
Jonathan Arkush, chairman of the UK’s Jewish umbrella organization, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and an Oxford University alumnus demanded that Oxford “take rigorous and credible measures to rid themselves of all antisemitic and racist elements,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Arkush added that the phenomenon “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 OULC’s Executive Committee also released a statement, reading,
We are horrified at and whole-heartedly condemn anti-Semitic behaviour in all its forms. The comments detailed in JSoc’s statement last night indicate a shocking pattern of hateful and racist behaviour by some Club members, and it’s of the highest priority that this be dealt with swiftly and lastingly. Labour Students is launching an investigation; we will fully co-operate with this and encourage any of our members to come forward with any information that will assist the process.
The Oxford University Labour Club, the largest in Britain, was founded in 1919.
By: The Algemeiner
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