The vilification of Jewish students is tarnishing the reputation of UK universities, the chief rabbi has warned. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said “Zionist bashing” is taking place unchecked and Jewish students can be defined by “the ugly term Zios” as they simply go about their studies.
“Zionist-bashing on campus has gone unchallenged,” Rabbi Mirvis told The Sunday Times, adding that Jewish students at universities were confronted with a “wall of anti-Zionism, which they feel and know to be Jew hatred”. He continued:
“We have seen what Jew hatred can be a template for in history. What troubles me is that the Zionist-bashing on campus has gone unchallenged. To vice-chancellors I would say: see what is happening under your noses, what is happening to the reputations of your universities. Freedom of speech needs to take place in a healthy and appropriate context. I cannot imagine that any vice-chancellor should be proud of the fact that vilification of a people has been taking place on their campus.”
Rabbi Mirvis, who is chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, the main Orthodox Jewish community in the UK, has said that opposition to Zionism was often thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. He warned students against backing “the anti-Zionist clarion call”.
Last week Rabbi Mirvis said in The Daily Telegraph that the Labour Party has a “severe” problem with anti-Semitism, hitting out at Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, Mr Livingstone was suspended from the Labour party after saying that Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews”.
Mr Livingstone made the comments on radio while defending Naz Shah, a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) who herself had been suspended for her online posts suggesting Israel should be relocated to the United States. After the interview, he was confronted by Labour colleague John Mann who called him a “f*cking disgrace” in an exchange that was filmed by journalists:
Rabbi Mirvis said he was “totally amazed and frankly horrified” by Livingstone’s remarks.
“When asked for a response to a blatantly anti-Semitic communication that was sent out he failed to condemn it, tried to explain it away and then, just unbelievably, brought Hitler into the picture in such an insensitive way, aggravating the situation,” Rabbi Mirvis said.
Rabbi Mirvis’ intervention came on the same day that Labour Party MP Rupa Huq was revealed as proposing a Labour Government could make an historical apology for the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
In two weeks Rabbi Mirvis is due to address students at the Oxford Union. An inquiry into alleged anti-Semitism within Oxford University’s Labour club is one of several being conducted by the Labour party, which has suspended more than 50 of its members over such allegations in recent weeks.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: email@example.com