An academic leader has claimed rampant anti-Semitism has led to some of the UK’s leading universities becoming no-go zones for Jewish students.
Baroness Deech, a former higher education adjudicator and law professor, said institutions’ fear of offending potential benefactors in the Middle East could be causing them to fail to combat hatred against Jews.
A number of incidents have been reported of Jewish students claiming to have been physically attacked or verbally abused.
In August a review of anti-Semitism at the Oxford University Labour Club found “clear” incidents of racism against Jews, while in October a committee of MPs found that comments by the president of the National Union of Students describing Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” smacked of “outright racism”.
Lady Deech told the Daily Telegraph: added: “Amongst Jewish students, there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid.”
“Definitely SOAS, Manchester I think is now not so popular because of things have happened there, Southampton, Exeter and so on.”
However, Josh Nagli, campaigns director at the Union of Jewish Students challenges these claims, telling Jewish News: “Whilst some of the comments made in the article are true, including the extremely worrying rise in anti-Semitism on UK campuses, the article does not fully represent Jewish students’ experiences at university and the suggestion that some universities would be ‘no-go zones for Jewish students’ is wrong – whilst deciding on a place of study is a personal choice, there is no university that we would discourage Jewish students from applying to on the basis of anti-Semitism.”
A statement by the Union of Jewish Students rejected that there are certain universities Jewish students should avoid. They said: Whilst it is important to note the extremely worrying rise in anti-Semitism on UK university campuses, and we are grateful to Baroness Deech for drawing further attention to this, the article does not fully portray the experiences of Jewish students. It does a disservice to the thousands who are able to freely express their Jewish identities in whichever way they choose.”
“The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 27 anti-Semitic incidents on UK campuses between January and June this year. The high-profile incidents in recent months have undeniably contributed to this. However, there is no university that we would discourage Jewish students to apply to on the basis of anti-Semitism. The safety and welfare of Jewish students is paramount, and UJS has worked tirelessly in recent years to ensure and protect this.”
Lady Deech, who used to sit on the Jewish Leadership Council, added: “Many universities are in receipt of or are chasing very large donations from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and so on, and maybe they are frightened of offending them.
Saudi Arabia has been a major donor over the last 10 years, the Telegraph said.
In 2005, Sultan bin Abdulaziz alSaud, the late crown prince, gave £2 million to Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum, while Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, has given more than £8 million to Exeter University over two decades.
The chief executive of Universities UK insisted the sector resoundingly condemned anti-Semitism and was clear that there was “no place” for it.