Sacks calls for ac­tion over cam­pus hate

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

CHIEF RABBI Sir Jonathan Sacks has called on univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lors to take greater ac­tion to de­fend Jewish stu­dents who are made to feel like “pari­ahs” on cam­puses around the UK.

He told the JC this week that vicechan­cel­lors “must de­fend free­dom of speech on all sides and all ar­gu­ments. It must never be stu­dents of this or that faith who feel vul­ner­a­ble or at risk or like pari­ahs on a univer­sity cam­pus.

“We hope that univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lors will recog­nise the feel­ing of vul­ner­a­bil­ity that Jewish stu­dents have ex­pressed at many univer­sity cam­puses. Part of the essence of a univer­sity is that ev­ery­one en­ters in an at­mos­phere in which they are ac­cepted.”

Sir Jonathan’s com­ments fol­lowed a meet­ing at the House of Com­mons on Mon­day when he ad­dressed a meet­ing on the gov­ern­ment’s progress re­port on the re­sponse, one year on, to the Par­lia­men­tary All-Party In­quiry into An­tisemitism’s 35 rec­om­men­da­tions.

The gov­ern­ment re­port high­lighted an­tisemitism on univer­sity cam­puses as one of three ar­eas “which re­main of con­cern and re­quire fur­ther work”. The other two were hate crimes and prose­cu­tions, and the in­ter­net.

The Chief Rabbi praised the work of the all-party com­mit­tee to the gath­er­ing of MPs, peers, com­mu­nal lead­ers and mem­bers of other eth­nic mi­nori­ties. But then he went on to tell them he was shocked that there were cam­puses “where some Jewish stu­dents were too afraid to show any out­ward signs of their Jewish iden­tity.

“I am shocked that this is hap­pen­ing so soon af­ter the Holo­caust. I am also shocked that it is hap­pen­ing de­spite some so-called strong ac­tion by univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lors.”

The gov­ern­ment’s 40-page re­port listed 14 achieve­ments in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­ter-de­part­men­tal work­ing group cov­er­ing nine White­hall de­part­ments that meets se­nior com­mu­nal bod­ies; the Schools’ Link­ing Net­work; spread­ing their work to Europe; and se­cu­rity in schools and com­mu­nal build­ings.

John Mann, Labour MP for Bas­set­law and chair of the all-party group, ap­plauded the gov­ern­ment’s progress. He de­scribed the com­mit­tee’s task as a “work in progress” and said there was still “a lot more to be done”.

He pre­dicted there would be “fur­ther ma­jor an­nounce­ments” in other key ar­eas dur­ing the sum­mer.

Liver­pool Labour MP Louise Ell­man said: “For the first time, an­tisemitism has been taken se­ri­ously and the gov- ern­ment has looked at po­lit­i­cal mea­sures to com­bat it.”

Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Ben­son said he was sat­is­fied with the gov­ern­ment’s progress and went on: “We wel­come this re­port which again demon­strated the Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing and tack­ling an­tisemitism to­day.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that the in­ter­net is an es­pe­cially com­plex en­vi­ron­ment to po­lice, but the cam­pus re­mains a grow­ing prob­lem that re­quires ur­gent and proper fo­cus from all of the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties. Re­gard­ing prose­cu­tions, we value the highly de­tailed re­port re­cently sub­mit­ted by the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice and hope to im­prove wit­ness pro­tec­tion and con­fi­dence in the ju­di­cial process.”

Union of Jewish Stu­dents’ cam­paigns di­rec­tor Yair Zi­van said: “I am en­cour­aged by the on­go­ing high level en­gage­ment be­tween UJS and the De­part­ment for In­no­va­tion, Univer­si­ties and Skills but now we have to work hard to en­sure that is trans­formed into real ac­tion over the next 12 months.

“We will be look­ing for spe­cific progress on deal­ing with cam­pus­based an­tisemitic in­ci­dents, the pres­ence of racist speak­ers on cam­pus, timetable clashes and gen­eral pro­vi­sion for Jewish stu­dents.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.