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Victim of ‘Antisemitic’ Attack at Cambridge: Human Rights of Israeli, Jewish Students in Jeopardy as Line Between Anti-Zionism, Jew-Hatred Blurs

avatar by Lea Speyer

Mock Israeli checkpoint during Israel Apartheid Week 2016 at Cambridge University. Photo: Cambridge PalSoc/ Facebook.

A mock Israeli checkpoint erected during Israel Apartheid Week 2016 at Cambridge University. Photo: Cambridge PalSoc/ Facebook.

One of the victims of an alleged antisemitic attack at Cambridge University last month warned this week that Jews and Israelis are in increasing danger on British campuses, as the line between anti-Zionist activism and Jew-hatred becomes blurred. 

In an op-ed published by the UK’s Jewish Chronicle, Shlomo Roiter-Jesner — one of three kippah-wearing students who, as The Algemeiner reported, were reportedly verbally and physically assaulted by members of a Cambridge sporting society — wrote that he can personally attest to “a number of horrifying spectacles” of Jews being openly targeted at the school.

Roiter-Jesner said that antisemitism is embedded in events such as Israel Apartheid Week, during which the “intimidation of Jewish and Israeli students is allowed” for days on end each year, under the protective cloak of human-rights activity on behalf of the Palestinians.

“While I applaud the tendencies of Cambridge students to partake in a culture of open-mindedness with regard to Israel-related issues, the disproportionate anti-Israel sentiment on campuses is an issue that needs greater attention,” he wrote. Yet, he said, British universities fail to be “especially respectful of freedom of expression” when it comes to pro-Israel events, with “harassment, assault, violence and vandalism…generally the currency of operation.”

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He added that he is finding it “increasingly difficult to convince [himself]” that the “campus obsession with Israel has nothing to do with the fact that Israel is the Jewish state.”

“Ignoring [the problem] certainly is not going to make it go away,” Roiter-Jesner wrote. “Every student deserves to live in an environment free from hate, even those who support Israel.”

In an interview with The Algemeiner last week, Roiter-Jesner said he found it “positively shocking” that the head of Christ’s College, Professor Jane Stapleton, in a recent email she sent out to the campus community, “categorically rejected the antisemitic nature” of the recent attack against him.

The incident in question, as Roiter-Jesner described, occurred when he and his friends accidentally walked into a private sporting society party at a student union building. While attempting to leave, “all of a sudden, they [the perpetrators] were shouting, ‘Jew, get the f*** out of here.’ We tried to leave but they were yelling at us,” he said.

Roiter-Jesner’s complaint about the atmosphere at Cambridge comes as Britain grapples with rising antisemitism and antisemitic anti-Zionism on its campuses. According to an October parliamentary report, British lawmakers found “unwitting antisemitism emerging in some student populations, and within left-leaning student political organizations [involved in anti-Israel activity] in particular.”

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