Oxford students who raised concerns about anti-Semitism ‘told to leave’ (2024)

Students who have raised concerns over anti-Semitism at Oxford University have been told they should leave, a letter from staff and students claims.

The letter, sent to Prof Irene Tracey, the university’s vice-chancellor, as well as deans and proctors, claims that there has been a lack of aid and sympathy for Jews, who face harassment and a hostile environment on campus.

The letter, whose signatories wish to remain anonymous, also accused the university of promoting “conspiratorial narratives”, as well as failure in reporting procedures in the past seven months.

They claim the university is becoming a “no-go area” for Jews and Israelis and that when some individuals raised concerns to their heads of programmes, they were “simply advised to leave Oxford”.

The letter, seen by The Telegraph, states: “We have felt isolated, unsafe, targeted, stressed, disappointed, angry and hopeless. Many of us have faced all manners of anti-Semitic slurs.”

It also details a list of 70 incidents that are alleged to have occurred since the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel on Oct 7.

The letter says a group of students told a Jewish student that “the Jews control the American government”, “Jews are everywhere”, and that they had “a Jewish nose”.

In another incident, the signatories said: “In vigils for the [Israeli] hostages, university members, mainly students, shouted at us, told us we are kid murderers, that we are spreading conspiracy theories and ‘Zionist propaganda’, and they vandalised our displays for the hostages. In fact, almost every time we did such a display, it was vandalised by organised groups from the university.”

They also claim that calls for violence are constantly heard in pro-Palestinian protests in Oxford, such as calling for the elimination of the Jewish state, “Palestine from the river to the sea”, “Intifada”, “the resistance is justified”, “globalise the Intifada”, “Israel is a terror state”, “From Oxford to Gaza: long live the Intifada”, “Israel, Oxford, USA, how many kids did you kill today?”.

The letter, which was sent last week, states: “Those places at the university, sometimes during working hours, became a no-go area for most Israelis and Jewish for seven months now.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Jewish student who is one of the letter’s authors, said: “This has been an issue since October and the university has not addressed anything or given any resources to dealing with this.

“There seems to be a problem regarding the academic information given out by the university on the matter of Jewish and Israeli people. Faculty members and hosted speakers feel comfortable to really spread misinformation without any type of monitoring from the university or any type of response. This just creates this mentality where people feel comfortable to tell other Jewish students that they control the banks and that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist – and this is Oxford University.”

Pro-Palestinian protests and camps are spreading across British universities as students demand that the university cuts all financial ties with Israel in an attempt to replicate the occupations that have swept through US campuses in recent weeks.

Demonstrators at the University of Oxford have added to a growing number of tent camps protesting against the war in Gaza, which have also been seen at universities including Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Warwick, Swansea, Bristol and University College London (UCL).

A University of Oxford spokesman said: “The University is unequivocal in its position that there is no place for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or unlawful discrimination of any kind directed towards any faith, race, nationality or ethnic group at the University of Oxford. All complaints related to harassment or discrimination of any kind are taken seriously, and formal complaints are always investigated if they are considered to have taken place within the university context.

“We are in active conversation with the authors of the open letter about their concerns and to offer them further support. We have also written to update all staff and students this week about the university’s wider approach to the ongoing crisis in Gaza. This includes guidance on reporting cases of discrimination and harassment, and guidelines to ensure that student protests are conducted lawfully and safely for all members of the university’s community and the public “

‘Hate explosion’

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that monitors anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, said that there has been a dramatic increase in university-related anti-Semitic incidents after the Hamas terror attack.

In CST’s 2023 Incident report, the charity recorded 182 university related anti-Semitic incidents, which is an increase of 203 per cent on the 60 incidents recorded in 2022.

In its annual report published in February, the charity concluded that there had been a “hate explosion” since Oct 7.

According to the latest figures, there has been a 589 per cent increase in the number of incidents compared with the same period in 2022 and described the unprecedented rise as a “watershed moment for anti-Semitism in the UK”.

The figures have hit an all-time record high of 4,103 cases of recorded anti-Semitic incidents, with 66 per cent (2,699) of such cases occurring after Oct 7. Such a figure, says the report, “on its own eclipses any annual anti-Semitic incident total reported to CST”.

It is the highest figure that the charity has ever recorded in a single calendar year. The 2023 report also marks the first time that the CST recorded an anti-Semitic incident in every single police region in the UK.

Oxford students who raised concerns about anti-Semitism ‘told to leave’ (2024)
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