The Board of Deputies has slammed an “outrageous” discussion due to take place on Thursday at a London university in which students will learn about “decoupling Judaism and Zionism”.
Activists at the SOAS Palestine Society are planning to examine “the borderline between Judaism and Zionism in the debate over Israel-Palestine,” but Jewish community leaders said this was “attempting to redefine anti-Semitism”.
Students will learn about “the role of Jewish allies in the struggle for justice for Palestinians, whether anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitic, the link between Zionism and anti-Semitism, and where to draw the line between combating the weaponisation of anti-Semitism and identifying real instances of anti-Semitism”.
Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl said: “It is outrageous that any outside group would take it upon themselves to redefine anti-Semitism for hostile political ends. For the vast majority of British Jews, political, cultural and religious affiliation with the state of Israel is a fundamental part of their Jewish identity.”
She added: “In suggesting that this is somehow a politicised or contrived relationship is outrageous. We utterly condemn this event and give our full support to SOAS Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish Students in standing up for the rights of Jewish students.”
A spokeswoman for the Union of Jewish Students said: “It is unfortunately no surprise that this event is taking place on a campus which in recent years has held many similar events that have concerned Jewish students. This discussion is further proof of some in the student movement denying Jewish students the right to define anti-Semitism and their own relationship with Israel.
It is extremely concerning that such an event is being held without any consultation with or involvement from SOAS Jewish Society, the recognised representative group of Jewish students at SOAS.
We are working with SOAS J-Soc to ensure an appropriate response to this event so that Jewish students’ concerns are listened to and appropriately addressed.”