London, England – CAMERA on Campus UK wishes to express its disheartenment and concern regarding the series of antisemitic and antizionist incidents that have played out in British universities in recent months. These prejudices have always played out on campus, but it is especially concerning to see so many high-profile cases occurring, and often going almost unnoticed by mainstream media and academia.
University of Bristol Professor David Miller, who called for “the end of Zionism”, called the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism an attempt by the state of Israel to ensure “Manufactured controversies around Judeophobia” and accused the Bristol Jewish Society of being “Israel’s pawn.”
In a BBC 2 documentary hosted by comedian David Baddiel last month, SOAS professor Gilbert Achcar overtly excused the presence of Holocaust denial among Palestinians.
Meanwhile, at University College London (UCL), we have seen a series of concerning events. In December 2020, UCL Academic Board released its Working Group’s heavily skewed “Report on Racism and Prejudice,” which advised the college to rescind the IHRA definition.
On February 3rd, the University College London Students Union’s (SU) Welfare & Community Zone held a special session on a proposal calling to support the report. The vote was originally scheduled for January 26th, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. No Jewish Society members were formally invited or notified about the impending vote and only heard about the session through word of mouth hours before it was scheduled to begin. No official agenda was sent out to the Jewish Society or SU committee members. The proposal failed by several votes.
However, on February 11th, the Academic Board voted in favour of an advisory resolution calling on the University to “retract and replace” the working definition, and the near future at UCL remains even more uncertain and worrying. Students will have to wait until April’s convening of the Academic Council to discover what course of action the college intends to take.
Antisemitism is a hatred with no place in civil society, yet it is one that continues to plague our institutions. The Community Security Trust’s 2020 Report revealed a record high of 1,805 antisemitic incidents in the UK for the year. Just last week, a Holocaust survivor and her son were subjected to a physical and verbal antisemitic attack on a London bus. By allowing antisemitic prejudice and misinformation to be given a free pass in academia, we give disgraceful ideas the veneer of respectability and send the message that not just truth, but the safety of Jewish students is not a priority.
We would like to express our gratitude for the hard work of many students and other organisations against this tide of discrimination and misinformation.
For more information on CAMERA’s new campus campaign, visit www.apartheidweekexposed.org.