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October 11, 2016 11:47 am

British Jewish Organizations ‘Utterly Condemn’ Anti-Israel Student Group’s Upcoming Event on Distinction Between Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

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SOAS. Photo: Wikipedia

SOAS. Photo: Wikipedia

Leading British Jewish organizations “utterly condemned” a London university’s anti-Israel student group’s plans to hold an event discussing the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) both harshly criticized a program — organized by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Palestine Society — entitled “Decoupling Judaism and Zionism in Palestine Advocacy,” with a UJS spokeswoman saying the group is “denying Jewish students their right to define antisemitism and their own relationship with Israel.”

The event description states that the student society will aim this Thursday “to examine the borderline between Judaism and Zionism in the debate over Israel-Palestine…in light of frequent claims made by supporters of Israel that pro-Palestinian activism is antisemitic.” In addition, they will consider “where to draw the line between combating the weaponization of antisemitism and identifying real instances of antisemitism.”

Marie van der Zyl, vice president of the Board of Deputies, told the Chronicle, “It is outrageous that any outside group would take it upon themselves to redefine antisemitism for hostile political ends.”

She also rejected the SOAS Palestine Society’s suggestion that the relationship of British Jews to Israel is “politicized or contrived.”

“For the vast majority of British Jews, political, cultural and religious affiliation with the state of Israel is a fundamental part of their Jewish identity,” she said.

The UJS spokeswoman told the Chronicle, “It is unfortunately no surprise that this event is taking place on a campus which in recent years has held many similar events that have concerned Jewish students…It is extremely concerning that such an event is being held without any consultation with or involvement from SOAS J-Soc (Jewish Society), the recognized representative group of Jewish students at SOAS.”

According to the report, both the Board of Deputies and UJS said they are working with Jewish students to have these concerns heard and addressed.

As The Algemeiner reported, SOAS has recently been the scene of intense anti-Israel protests and antisemitic vitriol. In June, The Algemeiner reported that the university’s Jewish students have become a “persecuted minority.”

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