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June 9, 2017 1:42 pm

Conservative Jewish Students Disappointed Peers Voted for Labour in UK Elections, Fear ‘Mainstreaming’ of Antisemitism

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avatar by Rachel Frommer

British students gather to watch the election results come in on Thursday night. Photo: Christ Church Students’ Union via Facebook.

A number of Conservative Jewish students told The Algemeiner on Friday they were disappointed in their peers who voted in droves for the Labour Party in the previous day’s general election, with one saying he feared the results might “mainstream” antisemitic views.

Jack Aaron — a masters student at Birkbeck, University of London — said the reportedly high youth turnout that was said to have contributed to Jeremy Corbyn’s success demonstrated the Labour leader’s “popularity with the young and will keep him as leader of the opposition, meaning he can rally more young support for the next election.”

“Naturally, this will mean his views on Israel and the issues of antisemitism in his party will stay mainstream,” Aaron continued.

In his nearly two years at the helm of Labour, Corbyn has been dogged by accusations of personal and party-wide anti-Jewish sympathies. Just last month, two of Corbyn’s campaign advisers were exposed as having made comments in support of the Hamas and Hezbollah terror organizations.

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Aaron said he worried campus tensions between the political Right and Left would grow, and that factionalism among Jewish students specifically would worsen.

Daniel Kosky, a University of Nottingham student, said he was “shocked” voters would be willing to vote for “a party leadership which have said some pretty dodgy stuff [about Jews].”

“On a student level it disappoints me that most students, including many of my friends happily voted for Corbyn knowing his record with the Jewish community and Labour’s problem with antisemitism,” he said.

In the run-up to the election, both Kosky and Aaron wrote pro-Conservative posts for a blog series on student political views published by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

Josh Nagli, campaign director of UJS, took a more positive view of the election outcome, tweeting, “Great to see so many MPs reelected who have consistently stood up for Jewish students in Parliament and wider society.”

In a statement, UJS representatives expanded, saying, “Many Jewish students will have concerns regarding parties’ positions towards certain issues, particularly the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism and its leadership’s past support for groups committed to Israel’s destruction, but we hope that whichever party governs our country following this General Election will continue to safeguard a thriving Jewish student life on all UK campuses, including but not limited to taking a strong stand against antisemitism.”

Meanwhile, Simon Johnson — chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council — told The Algemeiner he believed the election would have a “neutral effect” on Jewish life on campus, with retention of “gains” made over the last academic year, like the government’s adoption of the international definition of antisemitism and the cancelling of anti-Israel campus events by university administrators.

With the Conservatives expected to lead the government and Labour members who have been strong Jews allies back in the House of Commons, Johnson said the only real unknown entity are the newly-elected Labour MPs.

“As we don’t know where they stand [on these Jewish issues], we don’t know how they may shift all this,” Johnson said.

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