Oxford’s Student Left Is Institutionally Antisemitic
Aaron Simons is a former president of the Oxford University Jewish Society, This week the presence of anti-Semiticism at Oxford University has erupted in UK news. Here’s Simons explains both what is happening at Oxford and where this anti-Semiticism is coming from.
The news that the Oxford University Labour Club co-chair has resigned due to claims of antisemitism within the club may have been shocking to some. To Jewish students at Oxford, it was not. The student left produces the most aggressive and virulent propagators of antisemitism on campus.
Alex Chalmers’ resignation statement was clear, emphasising that: “A large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.” The Oxford University Jewish Society noted that it was “not the first time that it has had to deal with antisemitic incidents within the student left and it will not be the last”. The Labour MP John Mann, chair of the all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, has called for the party to sever all ties with the club.
Following Chalmers’ resignation, further allegations have appeared. Other OULC members, including past executive officers, approached Oxford University Jewish Society with a list of antisemitic incidents they had recorded. One OULC member argued that Hamas was justified in its killing of Jewish civilians and claimed all Jews were legitimate targets. A committee member stated that all Jews should be expected to publicly denounce Zionism and the state of Israel, and that we should not associate with any Jew who fails to do so. It has been alleged that another OULC member organised a group of students to harass a Jewish student and to shout “filthy Zionist” whenever they saw her.
This type of rhetoric is not confined to OULC. Leftwing student leaders have rallied against “any Rothschild” and “Zios” in their Facebook statuses. One of Oxford’s online political forums removed members with Jewish sounding surnames from the group. In another group, a member called for Jews to pack their bags and leave the Middle East. One notable far-left student politician said, “I don’t like being smeared as antisemitic, but I don’t bleed from it either.”
As a Jewish student, Labour voter and someone who identifies with progressive politics, I am aghast at the direction Oxford’s student left has taken. This is now the student left of radical socialism, of no-platforming, of identity politics and of antisemitism. Beneath the OULC headlines lies an intellectual structure that legitimises and reproduces antisemitism at a rate of knots.
At the centre of radical left antisemitism is its theory of racial oppression. The radical left holds anti-racism as a core principle and conceives of oppression through a binary of oppressors v oppressed, of whiteness v people of colour. It is a theory that has many merits, but when applied to Jews it becomes a quagmire of prejudice.
Put simply, the student left conceives of Jews as white.
Do read the rest of Aaron’s piece.