Fifty Jewish professors and students at the University of Cambridge have written an article protesting the political Left’s belittling of antisemitism and dismissal of their concerns.
The endorsers of the article include Prof. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Prof. David Abulafia and Daniel Janner QC.
The intervention was prompted by a campaign event featuring the (successful) Labour candidate, Daniel Zeichner, who, they claim, was dismissive of antisemitism concerns raised with him. One student reportedly asked Mr Zeichner for his view on what Labour should do to resolve its antisemitism crisis, to which the candidate responded that Labour is merely a “voluntary organisation” like a “football club” or a “church”, and asked: “what else do you want us to do?”
The authors of the article accused the MP of “Labour-splaining” antisemitism to Jewish students and observed that his response was “emblematic of a wider disease that has taken hold of both the Labour Party and left-wing spaces here at Cambridge.”
They lamented that when antisemitism is raised, Labour activists and supporters feel personally attacked and respond by pointing out fault in other parties or questioning Jews’ motives.
They also note that the “disturbing choice” between speaking out against antisemitism on the Left versus suffering in silence has “taken a profound toll on Jewish students at Cambridge”, including impacting mental health. There is a “social cost of speaking out,” they say.
The article questions why students who wear Jewish skullcaps have had their pigeon-holes stuffed with Labour leaflets while others lay empty, why Labour activists aggressively approach Jewish students, why blatantly antisemitic tropes are excused as mere criticism of Israel, and why they are told that their experiences of antisemitism do not matter.
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.