University of York Students’ Union has made a public apology and offered £1,000 to a Jewish student whose university career was wrecked by antisemitic incidents. It is the first case of its kind. Zachary Confino, 21, a law student, suffered stress and narrowly missed a first-class degree, after two years of battling with antisemitism from anti-Israeli students at the University of York. Jo Johnson MP, the Universities Minister, intervened to help broker the public, written apology from the university’s students’ union over his treatment.
It is right that the students’ union should apologise for the way in which it reacted to Zachary Confino’s complaints about antisemitism. But their apology and payment of compensation are not enough. There must also be a commitment to fighting antisemitism properly, something they failed to do in this case.
It should not be necessary for individual Jewish students to fight lengthy battles with their students’ unions over the course of many months or years in order to have Jew-hatred dealt with properly.
Students who abused Zachary by suggesting Hitler “was onto something” ought to have been disciplined for their racial abuse and bullying. How many other Jewish students do not have the incredible strength and dedication of Zachary Confino to fight the antisemitism they experience? And when will British universities start to fight it for them, as they should fight all forms racism within their student and professional membership?
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