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March 11, 2016 5:15 pm

Controversial Play Just the Latest Antisemitic Episode at UK’s York University, Say Jewish Students

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Heslington Hall, University of York, UK. Photo: Wikipedia

Heslington Hall, University of York, UK. Photo: Wikipedia

Jewish students at Britain’s University of York this week refused to sign a joint statement with the university after meeting with officials to discuss antisemitism on campus, The Algemeiner has learned. At issue was the statement’s failure to address the recent campus performance of a controversial play as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week,” as well as to acknowledge the difficulties Jewish students have been experiencing in recent years.

Zachary Confino, a third-year law student and a member of York’s Jewish Society who participated in the university meeting, told The Algemeiner that he has personally experienced or witnessed “a fair amount” of antisemitism in the last few years.

His list of 17 examples, dating back to October 2013, included the removal of his mezuzah from his dorm room door, being told that Jews control the world, being called a “stupid Israeli t**t” (he is not Israeli), being told that if he doesn’t want to receive antisemitic abuse, he should support the boycott movement against Israel, and witnessing numerous social media postings comparing Israelis to Nazis, accusing a Jewish student running for a campus position of “dual loyalty,” and comments supporting Hitler.

Given these experiences, and that his past reports of such incidents to the university resulted in no action, he found the proposed university statement unacceptable. As he explained this week to the UK’s Jewish Chronicle:

What they are trying to do is whitewash everything and smooth over their media image. We accepted [that the statement] would be looking forward [to dealing with future antisemitic incidents] but we also thought it would touch on the past because that is what led to this. We cannot co-sign it at the moment.

The immediate trigger for the meeting with the university was the performance of the 2009 play, “Seven Jewish Children,” several times over the past two weeks, as part of the “Israeli Apartheid Week” sponsored by York’s Palestinian Solidarity Society. The staging of the play, widely deemed antisemitic, inspired York’s Jewish Society to protest, putting out a statement on its Facebook page that read, in part:

Seven Jewish Children is not a play about Israel. The words Israel, Israelis, Zionism and Zionist are not mentioned once in the play, while Jews and alleged Jewish behavior is core throughout it. We are often told that when people talk about Israel or Zionists, it is mischievous to accuse them of meaning Jews. Now, we are expected to imagine that a play that talks only of Jews, in fact, means Israelis.

The Jewish Society alerted York’s Student Union to the antisemitism of the play, Confino told The Algemeiner, but the response was only that there was no “no-platform” policy, meaning that the play could not be banned as long as it was deemed “safe.”

The Jewish Society statement observed:

This is a classic, and awful, example of how Jewish concerns are treated with contempt by a student body that claims to have universal anti-racist values … [The Union] has not taken a stand against this play and the antisemitism therein. The Jewish Society finds this approach to be entirely inconsistent with [the Union’s] commitment to challenging antisemitism in a serious manner.

In a statement to the Jewish Chronicle after the meeting with students, David Duncan, York’s registrar and secretary, said, in part:

The meeting discussed the issue of race hate and antisemitism and began a dialogue about how the University and the Jewish Society can work together to address this very serious matter.

They agreed to discuss further practical steps aimed at: reassuring students who are concerned about antisemitism, raising awareness about the points of contact students can use to raise specific concerns, ensuring that Jewish staff and students of all nationalities feel welcome at York.

The University representatives indicated that they were seeking external advice from the Community Security Trust. They would also be meeting with other societies and groups to hear their views and address any concerns they might have.

Seven Jewish Children has generated controversy since it was written in 2009. Famed writer and critic Howard Jacobson described it as perpetuating the “medieval blood-libel of Jews rejoicing in the murder of little children,” “Jew-hating pure and simple.” The Community Security Trust mentioned in the university statement, a charity that monitors antisemitism and provides security for UK Jewish communities, concurred, writing: “Jews, children, blood and … the Passover seder: this mixture has a murderous antisemitic past … Here is a rule of thumb: when people describe Israel with the same language and imagery that antisemites use to talk about Jews, the difference between the two disappears.”

Confino noted, in conclusion, to The Algemeiner: “We have been unsupported by the Students’ Union and the University especially as they claim [the play] was not antisemitic — when even the Community Security Trust does!”

On Thursday The Algemeiner reported on a new study documenting “serious antisemitism” across many campuses in the United Kingdom.

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  • John Peterson

    STINKS badly! With all the signs of ISLAMS at play? High-jacking numerous STUDENTS Associations? Usually playing VICTIMS under UMBRELLA Palestinian(the easy to root milking feelings in the West)



  • eurotrash swine

    eurotrash swine

  • All this and more proves how much more dangerous it is to be a coward whether in politics or elesewhere that using methods based on courage. Instead of letting antisemitism inflate by the day it would take only 3 or 4 days to expel all arabs from Western Palestine thru artilerry fire over all of “palestinian” cities to force them run away. After that no one will keep the pressure neither on Israel nor jews. PM’s Cowardice does not pay off and could lead to ww3

  • dante

    it’s disgusting: this institution carrying the name of the city that was the infamous site of medieval barbarism, theft from, slander, murder of the Jews, most notably on March 16, 1190, can’t figure out that it’s indecent to make itself a collaborator in another assault against the Jews.

    and, the cowardly, timid, pusillanimous university administration disgraces itself in its desperate flight from principle.

  • suzie

    The Jewish students at York college are very brave! I hope they will have the strength to continue to fight the miserable anti semites. Thank goodness that Jews are a lovely group of people!

  • If anyone at York U (or elsewhere!) would like to present a little piece I wrote a few years ago called “Seven Muslim Children”, please feel free to do so. Watch the University contort itself into censoring this while supporting the production of Caryl Churchill’s vile screed.

    Please put a comment on the blog post linking to information about any effort to stage this.

  • A Zionist

    The MacPherson Report of 1999 (

    The definition of a “racist incident” will now include incidents categorised in policing terms both as crimes and non-crimes. It will now encompass “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. A new Code of Practice will record all such crimes.

    This clear statement may be applied in Britain when it comes to the racism of colour and Islamophobia, but antisemitism is treated differently.

    The fact that York University and the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, SOAS, UCL, Kings, LSE etc ignore the Jewish students whose statements maintain the act is antisemitic thus contravenes the McPherson Report.

    Why are these universities and societies such as SJP, BDS etc are not threatened with legal action?

    As I am not a lawyer, I cannot comment. As a Jew, I can attest to the fact that when it comes to antisemitism, Jews are treated differently, which is in itself, antisemitic.

  • stevenl

    Back to the future (in reverse):1290! “Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop”.
    The vast majority of Europeans countries have their Jewish skeletons.

  • enufizenuf

    England is doomed. By 2050 it will be the Islamic Republic of Britain. All Jews there should move to Israel, Canada or the US as soon as possible. All the Nancy boy creeps in GB are doomed to live as subjugated people. Too, too bad.

  • SteveHC

    Student unions take their cues from school administrations. So when they see that racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic attitudes and/or incidents on campus are tolerated by administrators they quickly assume that such things are “OK” – and *yes*, it is THAT SIMPLE.

    And, by the way, anybody who is truly familiar with “Seven Jewish Children” and who says it is not anti-Semitic in nature says so because *they themselves* harbor anti-Semitic beliefs and thus CANNOT admit tgat the play is anti-Semitic – at least not publicly, anyway.

  • duPont

    The disgusting anti-Semitism going on in the universities around the world is the result of the Palestinianization of the campuses. It must be stopped but I don’t know how. Without the universities taking a bold stand against the actions of the Arabs fomenting this hatred, it can’t happen. Jewish students could opt to go to other universities that do not support the Arabs but that would leave those universities open to total Palestiniazation. I would love to see a financial boycott of these institutions precluding any donor contributions. Is there an answer? I would love to hear it. For now, I just wish all the Palestinian organizations on campuses would go to hell or back under the rock from which they crawled out.

  • Lia

    To students and parents, both pro- and anti Israeli: check on what’s happening at MU.

  • Malcolm De Winter

    This is only to be expected in York, after all it is the place where they had a pogram and things haven’t changed much over the years. Seriously did anyone expect the university authorities to take any notice of a Jewish complaint?