37.Memorandum submitted by the Union of
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) is the main
representative body for Jewish students on campus in the UK and
Ireland. It provides social, cultural, political and educational
programming, training and resources as well as organising national
events for students. It is a peer-led union, which elects its
leadership and is held to account by an annual conference.
The Campaigning function of UJS has been a core
activity for 30 years. In 1974 the NUS (National Union of Students)
passed a motion establishing a policy of "No Platform"
for racists and fascists, in 1975, the UN voted to equate Zionism
and Racism (which was recently revoked). These events together,
inspired numerous attempts to ban Jewish Student societies all
over the country. Some of these attempts were successful. The
UJS campaigns department secured Jewish student welfare and safety
during this time, and has done ever since.
UJS Campaigns is designed to facilitate and
support pro-active and re-active campaigns on campus, defend and
promote Jewish student welfare, and to work for equal rights for
all minorities at University. In recent times UJS has lead the
way in the fight against Holocaust denial and the BNP, has exposed
the evil in and behind the Islamist extremist groups Hizb-Ut Tahrir
and Al-Muhajiroun, and has campaigned to ensure anonymous marking
at university. UJS and its representatives have taken a lead in
highlighting the problem of Islamophobia, and campaigning against
The UJS campaigns team works with a number of
other student and faith organisations to promote positive community
relations on campus. This includes strong partnerships with the
National Union of Students, the National Hindu Student Forum,
The British Organisation of Sikh Students, Muslim Jewish Dialogue
groups and others.
The past few years in particular have proved
very difficult for Jewish students, since the beginning of the
current intifada, anti-Semitism has risen, and threats against
Jewish students have increased. The problems can be broken down
into a number of key areas: academics, websites, motions, extremist
groups and miscellaneous threats.
It should be made clear however, that while
this material is evidence of anti-Semitism, there is a parallel
rise in complications, misunderstanding and lack of balance as
regards teaching the Middle East conflict. It is the view of UJS
that criticism of particular policies of the Government of the
State of Israel is legitimate and certainly not anti-Semitic.
In fact, in the late 70s and early 80s, UJS was the first UK based
Jewish organisation to adopt a policy of a two state solution
to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and to advocate a policy of
mutual recognition between the State of Israel and the PLO. However,
it is worthy of note that tension in classrooms and lecture theatres
on, and surrounding this issue has led to demonisation and isolation
of Jewish Students.
There has been a noticeable rise in academic
intolerance, misunderstanding, abuse and anti-Semitism. A few
key examples outline the more general problem.
1. Nat QueenBirmingham
A student surfing the web found that a Birmingham
lecturer's personal University homepage included links (which
were personally endorsed) to an anti-Semitic website. Dr. N M
Queen, lecturer in applied mathematics from the School of Mathematics
and Statistics has a section on his site entitled "Human
Rights". From a link titled "American State Terrorism",
one is taken to a site filled with Jewish conspiracy stories,
a complimentary bibliography of David Irving and pages on Zionist
power. The initial response from the University was slow and unhelpful:
they supported the lecturer and tried to stop most discussion
on the subject. In a media interview the academic defended his
position. Following pressure from the Union, press and UJS, Birmingham
changed their policy as regards web usage, and academics' personal
sites in particular.
2. Andrew WilkieOxford
Oxford University Professor Andrew Wilkie denied
an Israeli student a PhD place based on his nationality, and the
fact he had served in the Israeli army. This was considered an
anti-Semitic case as the denial of admission was based on the
particular nationality of the individual involved, and the question
was raised and unanswered as to whether a former member of any
other army would have been prohibited. Furthermore this was a
clear case of discrimination in admissions, and caused tension
on campus. The Students Union and UJS worked together to ensure
positive lessons were learned. The University was very slow in
investigating the case and publicising their findings. The Professor
was eventually suspended for two months, resigned as a fellow
of Pembroke College (denying him certain privileges) and was sent
to compulsory equal opportunities training.
3. Mona Baker, Sue Blackwell, Miscellaneous
There has been particular tension caused by
those academics that cross the line between personal interest
and activism and academic abuse of power. A number of examples
exist, most prominently Mona Baker, who fired two Israeli academics
from her journal because of their nationality and has as yet remained
without reprimand; Sue Blackwell, who had links from her personal
Birmingham University page to www.whatreallyhappened.com, a website
propagating conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks,
notably that Israel was their true perpetrator. This is a throwback
to classic Jewish control and conspiracy theories. Finally, other
random cases of lecturers who have provided lectures comparing
Israelis to Nazis or Israel's actions to ethnic cleansing (for
example at London Metropolitan University and LSE). Again, the
dehumanisation and demonisation of Israel in this way leads to
tension on campus and anti-Semitic incidents, and is beyond the
line of legitimate political comment.
1. One of the worst cases of web-based anti-Semitism
was found on the Open University's website, the message board
(the "first class conferencing system") included outrageous
racist remarks. The message board is only accessible to students
at the University. One student moderator resigned over the affair,
admitting that she had not performed her duties as she should
have. After much pressure and press involvement, the University
moved the international affairs board to a "view first"
system to stop offensive posts being put up. Their reaction was
slow and generally unhelpful. The Jewish students involved no
longer use the website through fear of attack.
2. Many universities have been found to
have links to offensive websites, or unacceptable web content
on their servers. An offensive site was found via a homepage at
the University of Cork. Among other articles, the website contained
material linking Israel to the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, anti-Semitic
passages appeared on the Essex University Islamic Society website:
3. The most serious cases of web anti-Semitism
regard death threats. At both Birmingham and Lancaster, Jewish
students were sent messages through society websites threatening
death and violence. Most often the comments were linked to Israel.
One example is reproduced below.
From: kill the firstname.lastname@example.org
b: ye right
e: Both (YC/Shalem)
g: fuck u..ur all gona die! in this country..u
The clearest example of anti-Semitism on campus
relates to anti-Zionist and Israel boycott motions, which were
submitted in a co-ordinated campaign across the country in 2002-03
and continue today. They drew a linkage between Jewish student
support for Israel, and the rights of Jewish students to organise
themselves on campus.
The motions followed a very similar word pattern,
and it is believed that this was an orchestrated campaign from
the extreme left campus groups, occasionally in collaboration
with Islamist groups or individual activists.
The cycle began in Manchester in 2002 with a
motion that threatened to ban the Jewish Society. There was a
huge demonstration against the motion, which failed to pass, but
Jewish-Muslim relations on campus became extremely tense.
Following this, there were a further 17 similar
motions across the country, only six of which were passed. The
motions compared Israel to apartheid-era South Africa and called
for a boycott of Israeli goods (which in many places would have
lead to a banning of many, if not all, kosher products). In most
cases, tensions were stirred up around the motions, and a number
of anti-Semitic incidents took place, mainlybut not exclusivelyagainst
the Jewish students who were involved in campaigns against the
Incidents of anti-Semitism included: skullcaps
being knocked from people's heads; screwdrivers through letterboxes
and knives in doors; anti-Semitic graffiti; verbal abuse; incidents
of students being followed. This again highlights the clear connection
between tension in the Middle East, and anti-Semitic incidents
Universities UK were helpful, and sent a memo
out to all vice-chancellors and Universities providing guidelines
and advice in order to ease tension on campus.
Worthy of particular note is the School of African
and Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London, where last
year another motion was passed paralleling Zionism with Racism.
As a consequence, Jewish students now feel very uncomfortable,
and feel it necessary to minimise their Jewish presence on campus
due to fear. The outcome of this motion has been that no official
Jewish Society can be established and Zionist activity on campus
There is a constant presence of extremist groups
on or around campus who are anti-Semitic, and have a history of
anti-Semitic rhetoric and behaviour.
The extremist Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir
(HUT) are still prevalent on campus. UJS led the student movement
in raising awareness about their attitudes and behaviour in the
mid-1990s. They were banned by NUS, but have since reappeared
under a number of aliases. A BBC Newsnight documentary exposed
their activity at Kingston University, and they have also been
active at UCE in Birmingham and QMW in London, amongst others.
Their publications in the mid-1990s were highly racist, anti-Semitic
and anti-democratic/Western; they still utilise the same symbols
and speakers. They were banned again this year by NUS.
Al-Muhajiroun, led by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed
remains active especially in the Manchester, Nottingham and London.
Al-Muhajiroun remains highly anti-Semitic and inflames tensions
on campus. They have held rallies in support of 9/11 and their
members are suspected to have been involved in the anti-Semitic
attacks surrounding motions.
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) uses
its website to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Holocaust
denial and homophobic rhetoric. Their student arm is the Islamic
Public Affairs Society, which is present at the University of
London Union. This group was also banned at NUS this year; however
their website reaches many students, and has a markedly negative
The Young BNP claim to have posts all around
the country, but were only visible at the NUS national demonstration
against fees. Their aim is often to overturn No Platform policies
in order that their leadership can speak on campus. This caused
tension three years ago in Leeds, where Mark Collett, the disgraced
Young BNP ex-leader, was studying and politically active.
The extreme left are particularly vocal on campus,
and in recent times have colluded with Islamist Extremist groups
like the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). Between the Socialist
Workers' Student Society, Stop the War Coalition, MAB, Friends
of Al-Aqsa, the International Solidarity Movement, the General
Union of Palestinian Students and Friends of Palestine, there
is often material, comments or publications where the line between
anti-Israel comment and anti-Semitism/Zionism is crossed. Often,
in public lectures in particular, the word Zionist is used interchangeably
with Jew. Azam Tamimi, a spokesman for the MAB, and former spokesperson
for the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, often speaks on campus where
he consistently attempts to justify, and expresses support for,
Palestinian suicide bombing against Israeli civilians. These groups
collectively are behind much of the tension, unease and fear felt
by Jewish students. Examples of their literature and comment are
available from UJS.
A number of miscellaneous anti-Semitic incidents
occurred on campus over the past year. These include:
The London Metropolitan University
Jewish Society was told it had to change its name in order to
"shield it from society" following the merger of North
London and Guildhall Universities to form the Metropolitan University.
Various articles in the Birmingham
student newspaper Redbrick inciting racial hatred, and
insinuating a Jewish conspiracy in the union.
An anti-Semitic article in the Sussex
student newspaper was printed. The article played on Jewish support
from American and Imperialist groups, furthering the idea of a
The Russian Society at Oxford refused
to take part in Holocaust Memorial Day activities as some of their
members "may have strong anti-Semitic views".
The Edinburgh student newspaper printed
a picture supposedly poking fun at Holocaust denial, but which
in fact caused shock and offence.
A number of speakers, including Rev.
Stephen Sizer from Oxford Brookes University, have been openly
anti-Semitic and demonised or dehumanised Jews and Israelis.
UJS are happy to provide evidence, examples
and further details of any matters outlined above.
23 September 2004