Two Students’ Experiences Of Antisemitism

The Huff Post had a piece by Jay Stoll, an LSE student, reflecting on how a certain type of racism is now to be found on British campuses:

“The two most galling cases of anti-Semitism on campuses in recent years have occurred at Oxford and now, LSE. The former being of course when Oxford Students deemed it appropriate fancy dress to arrive at a party dressed as Orthodox Jews, carrying ‘bags of money’. It is also worth noting recently disgraced MP Aiden Burley was Oxford-educated and in fact, a former officer of the OU Conservative Association. Again, not a reflection upon the institutions themselves, but such knowledge should highlight the depressing reality of said instances occurring in the top academic arenas. This also prompt a reality check, regarding where and to whom specifically, we attribute our focus in fighting racism.

The abhorrent BNP and the EDL, and even certain national publications, are all too quick in their McCarthyist agenda to embarrass the Muslim community with constant vilification for their extreme few. Yet when it comes to ‘fig-leaf’ anti-Semitism, I would argue the true ignorance stems from those who they would look last to accuse.

The recent UJS survey, conducted by IPSOS Mori and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, highlighted that 20% of Jewish students had experienced anti-Semitism, and a further 32% had witnessed anti-Semitism in the last academic year. Most Jewish students, therefore, live a happy and normal university life, with issues such as job prospects and a healthy social life (!) paramount, but this does not detract whatsoever from the severity of instances such as these. “

That led me to Leo Boe’s description of what happened to him on an anti-cuts demo:

“We gathered by LSE Students’ Union by Aldwych Street, waiting for the march to begin. The atmosphere was fantastic, and everyone was in good spirits, in solidarity with one another. Regardless of the kind of political or activist background, students were there en force to send one clear message to the government, or at least, that’s what I thought.

Whilst walking around the crowds, admiring slogans and placards, a student handing out a magazine stopped and asked if I wanted a copy. Before I had the opportunity to answer he told me that he knew who I was and that he followed me on Twitter. Rather taken aback and wondering indeed whether this was true, I asked if I could have a copy of the publication he was handing out. The rest of the conversation went something like this:
“You tweet a lot about Israel”

Feeling rather uncomfortable, “not that much”, I responded. Before I had the chance to say anything else, “yeah and about how much you hate Palestinians”
“I’ve never tweeted let alone said anything about hating Palestinians because I don’t, I tweet about Israel because I’m Jewish.”- again, cut off-
“Tweeting about Israel because you’re Jewish must mean that you hate Palestinians, come on admit it! Why can’t you and other Jews just stop hating Palestinians? Do you see Israel as a legitimate state?”
“I’m critical of the government’s approach to expanding settlements and of human rights abuses on both sides – I don’t hate Palestine or Palestinians, and yes I think that Israel and Palestine both have the right to self-determination”
“I can’t believe you just said that about Israel, Jews have no sense of justice”

Fairly shocked and disheartened at the student’s lack of willingness to listen to my side of all of this, and noting his decision to bypass me to get to students to pass out his pile of magazines, I decided to continue making sure my students were all together. How exactly does the Israel/Palestine question factor into a march defending, extending, and protecting the rights of students and future generations of students vis a vis government cuts? I asked myself. “

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