Outraged Jewish Students at Oxford Demand Withdrawal of Campus Support for Upcoming Conference Hosting Anti-Israel Activists, Alleged Terrorism Sympathizers
The Jewish Society at Britain’s Oxford University (OUJS) is calling for the withdrawal of support for an upcoming conference featuring speakers who have expressed sympathy for Palestinian terrorists and advocated violence against Israelis, reported Cherwell, the school’s independent student newspaper.
According to the report, the OUJS railed against the Oxford Radical Forum (ORF) 2017 for planning to host Miriyam Aouragh, a Dutch anthropologist and activist, who reportedly described Ahmed Yassin, a founder of Hamas, as an “elderly man in a wheelchair living in a refugee camp in Gaza” and organized a memorial service for him after he was killed by Israeli forces; Malia Bouattia, the president of the National Union of Students, who called the University of Birmingham a “Zionist outpost;” and Richard Seymour, who reportedly wrote of an Israeli journalist, “F*** him, they should cut his throat.”
The OUJS told Cherwell, “We believe that our community should not be inviting speakers who espouse antisemitism and hate speech. They should not be afforded a platform to spread their opinion.”
The OUJC demanded that the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) and a number of Junior Common Rooms (JCRs) — which provide services to a sector of the student population — withdraw their funding for the event, saying, “We believe that our students’ union and JCRs should not be supporting this.”
According to Cherwell, the OUSU has said it was not “aware of any such” concerns, but will “take [the allegations] very seriously,” while the president of one of the JCRs said its involvement “absolutely does not mean it endorses each and every word the speakers have said in the past nor might say at the ORF.”
According to ORF organizers, the conference, scheduled for March 3-5, is “a weekend of events designed to critically interrogate current political issues from a range of left-wing perspectives,” and has been a fixture of intellectual life at Oxford for almost a decade.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, ORF defended its choice of speakers, saying, “We consider [them] to be well qualified to take part in the specific debates to which they have been invited.” Organizers added, “[We] are united against antisemitism, and all forms of racism,” but criticized those who insist that “past offensive statements…constitute sufficient basis for which to exclude people from any critical forum.”
According to Cherwell, ORF has a history of inviting speakers who have expressed antisemitic views and remarks, including journalist Max Blumenthal, the notorious Jewish anti-Zionist.
Oxford has come under scrutiny recently for allegations of “rampant antisemitism” in its Labour Club, as The Algemeiner reported, and was criticized when a nearly year-long investigation into the charges resulted in no disciplinary action.