by Giulio Meotti
Consider what has happened over the last two months: the student organization of the University of Manchester voted to boycott Israel, the University of London invited a speaker to talk about the “Nazi Israel” and at University College London a rally prevented a meeting of Jewish students. It is not the Germany of 1933, but the England of 2016.
The United Kingdom leads Europe in university-grown anti-Semitism.
“Some of the leading universities in Britain are becoming ‘no-go areas’ for Jewish student[s]”, denounced Baroness Ruth Deech, former rector of St Anne’s College, Oxford, in her report. Her comments came after a series of high-profile incidents at the best universities where Jewish students claim to have suffered hatred, verbal abuse and have been physically attacked. Deech gave the names of English universities that a Jewish student should avoid: “Surely the School of Oriental Studies, Manchester, Southampton, Exeter and so on”.
Alex Chalmers, a history student at Oxford University and president of the Labour Student Union that exists there since 1919, resigned in a dramatic gesture of protest against what he denounced as a flood of anti-Semitism at his university. At Southampton University, one of the most prestigious public universities, an international conference was going to question not the policy of Israel, but its “right to exist.” (It was cancelled.) The Queen Mary Students’ Union has been twinned with the University of Gaza, a Hamas base in the war against the Jewish State.
Former MP George Galloway refused to debate a student at Oxford, Eylon Aslan Levy, when he discovered that he had an Israeli passport. This is the climate that culminated in the election of Malia Bouattia as President of the National Student Union, the first woman and first Muslim to hold the office, who said that the boycott against Israel is not enough, it distracts from the true Palestinian Arab resistance against Israel.
At Oxford, now, we do not count the cases of blatant anti-Semitism on the part of the teaching staff. Like that of the pathologist Oxford Andrew Wilkie, who refused every request from a doctoral student from Israel. Like the case of the poet Tom Paulin, professor of English Literature, who said that the “Jews of Brooklyn” in Judea and Samaria should be “shot.”
While the missiles launched by Palestinian terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were falling on the roofs of Israeli schools, the English Union of Universities and Colleges not only fail to express solidarity with Israeli students, but chose that moment to launch its appeal for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
In Manchester there is Mona Baker, who has “asked” two Israeli scholars, Gideon Toury and Miriam Shlesinger, to resign from the administration of the Encyclopedia of Translation Studies.
The official data from the Union of Jewish Students shows that some of Russell Group universities, such as Durham, Exeter, Newcastle and Cardiff, have barely a hundred Jewish students.
The idea to boycott Israeli universities was born in England on April 6, 2002, when Steven and Hillary Rose promoted an appeal to punish their Israeli colleagues, collecting 700 signatures. Since then, the boycott has gathered thousands of signatures among the professors in the UK. In 2005 the Association of University Teachers, gathered for the occasion in Eastbourne, voted in favor of a boycott of two Israeli universities, Bar-Ilan and Haifa.
A year ago the Guardian published a full page signed by 300 British academics, professors and researchers, who said they had started a boycott of Israel and its academic institutions.
And it is not coincidental that most of the anti-Semitic universities received generous donations from Islamic countries. The Saudi Abdulaziz al Saud gave two million pounds to Oxford University, while Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah - one of the most conservative among the United Arab Emirates - has given more than eight million pounds to Exeter University. Durham received millions of pounds to build an Institute of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies; Exeter has received 750,000 pounds from Dubai and as many from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. It is the same university, incidentally, where Richard Seaford, a classicist, told the BBC that he has been practicing “an informal boycott” of Israel for years, rejecting any Israeli publication.
This wave of anti-Semitism is shocking the UK because this was a country proud that it didn’t have ghettos for Jews, gas chambers or academic anti-Semitic edicts like those in Germany. But now England leads the battle in this new form of hatred: The eradication of Israel in the West.
Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary.
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