Some universities are apparently becoming ‘no-go zones for Jews’

Baroness Deech claims some universities are gaining reputation for hostility to Jewish students

A leader in higher education has claimed that anti-Semitism is turning some British universities into no-go zones for Jewish students.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Baroness Ruth Deech suggested that extreme hostility towards Israel on campuses can sometimes descend into anti-Semitism, and that British universities.

“Many universities are in receipt of or are chasing very large donations from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and maybe they are frightened of offending them. I don’t know why they aren’t doing anything about it, it really is a bad situation,” she said.

She went on to name Manchester, Exeter, SOAS and Southampton as universities that Jewish students might feel unwelcome.

“Amongst Jewish students, there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid” she claimed.

However, the Union for Jewish Students published a statement on their website formally rejecting the Baroness’s comments.

Speaking to The Tab, UJS campaigns director Josh Nagli challenged her views, saying, “Whilst some of the comments made in the article are true, including the extremely worrying rise in anti-Semitism on UK campuses, the article does not fully represent Jewish students’ experiences at university and the suggestion that some universities would be ‘no-go zones for Jewish students’ is wrong – whilst deciding on a place of study is a personal choice, there is no university that we would discourage Jewish students from applying to on the basis of anti-Semitism.”

Josh Nagli, UJS

A spokeswoman for Exeter university also refuted the claims, saying: “It is untrue to say that the University of Exeter is not a welcoming place for Jewish students.

“Exeter University not only has a thriving Jewish society, but teaches Jewish studies, the history of the holocaust and has a Jewish chaplain, as part of its multi-faith team”, she said.

Southampton has also denied the claim that the university fosters an unwelcoming atmosphere for Jewish students. A spokesman said: “We would emphasise that the University of Southampton is home to a supportive, friendly and inclusive community that welcomes staff, students, alumni, collaborators and visitors from a wide variety of backgrounds, including people of all faiths and none.

“Additionally, the University of Southampton is very proud to host the Parkes Institute, the world’s oldest and most wide-ranging centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages.”

Lady Deech is herself an Oxford graduate and was formerly the Principal of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. In August a review of anti-Semitism at the Oxford University Labour Club found some “clear” incidents of racism against Jews.

This news follows the election of Malia Bouattia as President of the NUS in July 2016 which created controversy after an article she co-authored resurfaced online in where she describes Birmingham University as “something of a Zionist outpost”. Since then, relations between some Jewish student leaders and the NUS leadership have been strained.

On September 28th,  28 student union presidents and vice-presidents joined ten members of the NUS’ National Executive Committee, three NUS vice-presidents as well as NUS’ representatives in Scotland and Wales, in a fiery open letter to Malia, criticising her for failing to ensure the safety and participation of Jewish students through her actions and rhetoric.

In light of these developments, some university unions have reaffirmed their support for Jewish students and their commitment to tackling anti-Semitism wherever it manifests itself.