Chief Rabbi slams vice-chancellors for ignoring the “vilification of Jewish students”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has criticised university vice-chancellors for ignoring issues of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism on their campuses.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mirvis suggested that anti-Zionism at universities was nothing short of “Jew hatred”.
The Rabbi argued that Zionism and Judaism were inseparable and that aggressive anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. He said,”it is astonishing to see figures on the hard Left of the British political spectrum presuming to define the relationship between Judaism and Zionism despite themselves being neither Jews nor Zionists.”
A Jewish Cambridge student, who wished to remain anonymous, said “What is as worrying for Jewish students about continuing anti-Semitism is the controversy of the claim itself. When Jews say that they are experiencing discrimination and oppression, it is constantly called into question, scrutinised and vilified in ways that no other minority group is forced to experience.”
Concerns about a growing current of anti-semitism within the British left have been increasingly voiced in recent weeks. The new President of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, described Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” because it has the largest Jewish society in the country.
Following Oxford and York among others, Cambridge is set to have a referendum on its affiliation with the NUS in light of the controversy.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, issued a comment on anti-Semitism at universities:
“While official figures suggest that reported incidents of anti-Semitism in universities are low, even a single incident is one too many. We want our universities to be tolerant and inclusive places. Universities have a difficult balancing act between protecting students from abuse or intolerance, while also allowing legitimate protest and free speech within the law. This is particularly relevant when Israel and Palestine are being discussed. A Universities UK taskforce on harassment and hate crime on campus is currently looking at this area.”
Mirvis called for vice-chancellors to take a strong stance against anti-zionism on campus, or the reputation of universities will suffer.