We must fight antisemitism on UK campuses | Letters

The description of Jewish fear at British universities by an anonymous student at Oxford University is deeply upsetting and yet deeply unsurprising (Why is antisemitism so rife in UK academic settings? I have never found student life more difficult, 16 November).

We like to think that education inoculates us against racism, but that has never been true for anti-Jewish racism. In the 1932 elections in Germany, almost two‑thirds of university students voted Nazi (double the rate of their “less educated” peers). The 1942 Wannsee conference plotted the murder of every European Jew – more than half of the participants held doctorates. University education is not a cure for antisemitism. Might it be a cause?

London in 2023 isn’t Berlin in 1933, but how long ago and how far away is it? In recent weeks there has been a rise in anti-Jewish racism on British campuses. Even some academics have voted for “Intifada until victory”. Clearly, education doesn’t cure racism – and neither does being on the left.

Because this is racism. Targeting British Jewish students because of the Israeli government is racist. Calling for an intifada in the UK is racist (and a crime). For more than 20 years, the police have defined racism as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim”. Why do Jews not merit the same protection?

This is not about our views on the Middle East; this is homegrown British racism. To fight back against this tide of intolerance, the National Holocaust Museum has launched a racism response unit. Whatever your education, whatever your politics, racism is wrong, and we will fight it.
Mark Rusling
Director of learning, National Holocaust Museum

I read with sadness and bewilderment about the plight of Jewish students being racially abused at UK universities by other students. It would seem that these Jewish students are being inexplicably punished for the actions of the Israeli government. It makes no more sense than UK Muslims suffering racism because of the actions of Hamas.

It is perfectly possible to be opposed to the actions of the Israeli government, despair at the suffering in Gaza and support Palestine and not be anti Jewish. It is perfectly possible to deplore the actions of Hamas without being anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian.

Surely now more than ever, we as individuals should be coming together, not spreading hate and more division. We cannot sadly affect the course of the conflict but we can at least try to ensure that both Jewish people and Muslims here are treated with decency and not scapegoated for things outside their control. We need to try to shed a little light on to this darkness.
Lynne Davies
Stourbridge, West Midlands

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication in our letters section.

Latest news
Related news