Universities across the UK need “urgently” to tackle the rise of “poisonous” anti-Semitism on campus, according to the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
In a letter to a student at the University of York who had suffered anti-Semitic abuse, Lord Rowan Williams acknowledged the rise of anti-Semitism in higher education around the country, according to the Sunday Times.
Lord Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, revealed he had written to Jo Johnson, the universities minister, because of the “muted” official response so far to rising anti-Semitic behaviour.
It follows complaints by Jewish students that they feel isolated or silenced after incidents at a growing number of universities that include Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and York.
Writing to Zachary Confino, a Jewish law student at York University who received anonymous anti-Semitic comments on social media — including the remark “Hitler was onto something” — the former Archbishop of Canterbury said he had been “very shocked” by what he had seen. “It is truly appalling stuff but sadly seems not to be that unusual at the moment,” he wrote before continuing:
“It’s ironic that just as we are waking up to all sorts of ways in which ‘hate speech’ works we should lose sight of one of the most ancient and poisonous forms of it, in the shape of anti-semitic rhetoric.”
He goes on: “Anyone concerned (as I am) about Islamophobia here and elsewhere needs to be scrupulously alert to the risk of scapegoating and demonising other religious communities, especially Jews; and anyone with even the least bit of historical sense ought to hear the echoes of past bigotry and violence towards Jewish people in Europe.”
As Breitbart News has reported, last month the Co-Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) resigned his post, claiming anti-Semitism and support of Islamist terror among left wing students is becoming routine.
In a Facebook announcement, Alex Chalmers slammed “senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians”, and said that concerns about anti-Semitism were dismissed as “just the Zionists crying wolf”.
He also said the club’s executive was prone to “throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon”, and stated that, “a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews”.
Lord Williams acknowledged the spread of anti-Semitic abuse such as that while criticising the failure of the Christian chaplains to support those like Confino who have been left to face the threat on their own: “I’m very dispirited indeed by the[ir] response . . . you’d expect a more simply empathetic engagement.”
Lord Williams says that while he has himself been critical of some of the actions of the Israeli state in the past “no degree of opposition to the policies of a government can possibly justify the appalling language I have seen used about Jews in general”.
Jewish students have warned they will not apply to study at certain campuses after pro-Palestinian motions by left-wing student unions.
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