Campaign Against Antisemitism commends the Co-Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, Alex Chalmers, for his principled decision to stand up against antisemitism amongst his fellow students. If only there were more people prepared to recognise antisemitism when they see it, and refuse to ignore it.
Chalmers decided to resign after the club voted to embrace “Israel Apartheid Week”. Chalmers wrote about his resignation in a hard-hitting Facebook post, saying: “Whether it be members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former Co-Chair claiming that ‘most accusations of antisemitism are just the Zionists crying wolf’, a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews. The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targeting and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation.”
Oxford University Labour Club is a member organisation of Labour Students, which said that they were “deeply troubled” and that they “unequivocally condemn any form of antisemitism”. Without offering any specifics, Labour Students promised to investigate and take action.
Since Chalmers announced his resignation, Oxford Jewish Society has published further allegations in a Facebook post of their own, shedding further light on the rampant antisemitism at the heart of the Labour Club.
According to Oxford Jewish Society:
- Members of the Labour Club’s committee have been known to sing the song “Rockets over Tel Aviv” and have specifically expressed support for Hamas’ tactic of launching indiscriminate attacks against Israel’s Jewish citizens.
- One Labour Club member stated specifically that it was “not antisemitic” to allege the existence of a “New York – Tel Aviv axis” that rigs elections, and said that “we should be aware of the influence wielded over elections by high net-worth Jewish individuals”. He also stated that it was “not antisemitic” to allege the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy, even though he did not endorse the idea himself.
- One Labour Club committee member stated that all Jews should be expected to publicly denounce Zionism and the State of Israel, and that nobody should associate with any Jew who fails to do so.
- Several individuals, some who have been on the Labour Club committee, repeatedly used the word “Zio” (a word normally only found on neo-Nazi websites) to refer to Jewish students.
- Several Labour Club members have alleged that US foreign policy is under the control of the “Zionist Lobby” and when asked if by “Zionist” they simply meant “Jewish” they did not answer.
- One member of the Labour Club was formally disciplined by their College for organising a group of students to harass a Jewish student and to shout “filthy Zionist” whenever they saw her.
- In a public discussion on the Labour Club’s Facebook group, one member argued that Hamas was justified in its policy of killing Jewish civilians and claimed that all Jews were legitimate targets. Several other members, including two former Labour Club co-chairs and one then on committee, defended the member as making “a legitimate point clumsily expressed”.
- Two Labour Club members argued that Jenny Tonge, a peer expelled from the Liberal Democrats over antisemitism, should be encouraged to join the Labour Party.
Jewish people should feel comfortable in any political party. Many of the pivotal figures in Labour have been Jewish, but we have also received increasing reports from Jewish Labour supporters who no longer feel welcome in their party.
It has been more than three months since Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to an antisemitic outburst by Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman by voicing “deep concern” and assuring us that he was “implacably opposed to racism” before deciding to take no disciplinary action whatsoever against the MP.
We call for the Labour Party and Oxford University to investigate this matter fully and take the strongest possible action to demonstrate to Jewish students that antisemitism will not continue to be tolerated. Where the law has been broken, this matter must be referred to the police; these students are supposed to be amongst our nation’s brightest and cannot be excused.
One prominent hard left activist at Oxford told me there needed to be a "final solution" to Israel. Not surprised by OULC revelations.
— Joseph Miles (@JoeMiles94) February 16, 2016