Essex students’ vote on whether a J-Soc is needed branded ‘simply shocking’

Essex students’ vote on whether a J-Soc is needed branded ‘simply shocking’

Student group also calls for action against lecturer who promoted antisemitism and Holocaust denial

Joe Millis is a journalist

Students' Union, University of Essex, Colchester Campus
Students' Union, University of Essex, Colchester Campus

The Union of Jewish Students has described as “simply shocking” a decision by a group of students at the University of Essex to vote on a motion on whether there should be a Jewish society.

In the end, the vote failed, but not before more than 200 students, from various registered societies – including the “Pokemon Go Society” and the “K-Pop Society – voted “No”.

A spokesperson for UJS said it was “deeply disappointed by the significant proportion of students who have voted against the establishment of a Jewish society at the University of Essex.

“Jewish societies, of which over 60 exist on UK campuses up and down the country, provide a space for Jewish students to celebrate their culture and identity. The fact that some students at the University of Essex deem it fit to vote against that is quite simply shocking.”

The UJS also complained about university computer and electronics lecturer Maaruf Ali, who expressed open opposition to the proposed JSoc.

Writing on a Facebook post in the University of Essex Palestinian Solidarity Group, Ali said that “the Zionists next want to create a society here at our university!”

Ali has shared pictures stating that “50,000 Jews protest[ed] Israel” in March 2016 in New York, but that there was a “total mainstream media blackout by the Zionist mafia”.

Another photo Dr Ali shared read: “In all of German Occupied Europe, there resided 2.4 million Jews before the war, according to the world Jewish encyclopedia.

“After the war, 3.8 million Jewish ‘Holocaust survivors’ were receiving pensions from the German government. Tragically, the remaining 6 million were lost.”

UJS said: “Dr Ali has shared blatant antisemitism on his Facebook, including Holocaust denial, Israel-Nazi comparisons and conspiracy theories about ‘Zionist media’.

“We call for a full disciplinary investigation and the strongest possible sanction for a staff member who has engaged in racist hate speech and discrimination. We are supporting Jewish students at Essex with the next steps they wish to take regarding this incident.”

It added it would “be in touch with the university” over this.

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