Although the UK was the first European nation to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism agreed upon last May by the Alliance in Europe, the nation’s School of Oriental and African Studies seems to be harboring a nest of anti-Semites of its own.
The school has declared Zionism to be a form of extremism, and according to the “Campaign Against Antisemitism” organization, has also amended an emergency motion proposed this week by Avraham Sanger, president of the Jewish Society at the school, in order block the right of Jewish students to determine for themselves what they find to be anti-Semitic.
Sanger had proposed a motion to restore kosher food which had been removed from Students’ Union facilities, reinstate the Jewish prayer area and mandate the Students’ Union to appoint an officer to protect Jewish students.
The Union passed the motion — but only with amendments which swapped protection of Jewish students for protection of all students from all types of racism.
The Union also removed a line in the motion confirming “Jewish students should be given the right to self-determination and be able to define what constitutes hatred against their group like all other minority groups”.
The Union then passed a counter-extremism policy, but during the debate it was made clear that it was to be used to prevent anyone with “Zionist ideology” from participating in campus life.
“Since the publication of the MacPherson Report in 1999, Britain has recognized the need for minority groups to be able to define prejudice against them. By denying that right to Jews, the SOAS Students’ Union is discriminating and sending a message that Jews cannot be trusted to honestly decide for themselves what is and is not antisemitic,” Sanger says.
Additionally, the International Definition of Anti-Semitism adopted by the British government in December states that “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)” is anti-Semitic, he points out.
It echoes a finding of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Rise of Antisemitism in Britain found anti-Aemitism to be “especially severe” within the student movement and stated that use of “the word ‘Zionist’ (or worse, ‘Zio’) as a term of abuse has no place in a civilized society.”
According to Sanger, SOAS has long been nicknamed the “School of Anti-Semitism” for its long history of victimizing Jewish students.
Baroness Deech recently declared it a university Jewish students “should avoid” and the Campaign Against Antisemitism organization has lodged complaints with the administration of SOAS and the Charity Commission over an anti-Semitic lecture. SOAS ‘Palestine Society’ recently proposed to define what Jewish students could take offense to, and Jewish students have been threatened as well.
“SOAS is a university on the brink. Campus politics have become a nest of extremism and antisemitic bigotry, said Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism.
“Jewish students sought their Students’ Union’s protection and in response the Union voted that Jews uniquely have no right to decide what they find offensive.
“Additionally the Union decided Jews alone now have no right to self-determination, and that to say otherwise is ‘extremist.’
“Counter-extremism has been turned on its head and is being used at SOAS to block out voices of tolerance. SOAS must take responsibility and protect its Jewish students.
“It is intolerable that in 2017, in Britain’s capital, a major university’s student body is broadcasting at full volume that Jewish students should be discriminated against.”
“I proposed a simple motion calling upon the Students’ Union to protect Jewish students but they responded by declaring Jewish self-determination to be extremism and a right that Jews uniquely should not have, Avrahum Sanger, President of SOAS Jewish Society said.
“My university is at a crisis point. It is at risk of becoming unsafe for Jews.”