Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Anti-Semitism at the Oxford Labour Club

The (now-former) co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club announced his resignation, citing rampant anti-Semitism within the organization
"Despite its avowed commitment to liberation, the attitudes of certain members of the club towards certain disadvantaged groups was becoming poisonous," [Alex] Chalmers wrote.

"Whether it be members of the Executive throwing around the term 'Zio' (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their 'solidarity' with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former Co-Chair claiming that 'most accusations of antisemitism are just the Zionists crying wolf,’ a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews," Chalmers continued. 
 Oxford's Jewish Society (JSoc) released the following statement of its own:

Oxford University Jewish Society is saddened by the anti-semitic reports coming out of Oxford University Labour Club, and stands fully in support of Alex Chalmers' decision to resign.
We are, however, unsurprised by this news. It is not the first time that Oxford JSoc has had to deal with anti-semitic incidents within the student left and it will not be the last. It is a significant and worrying issue and one that on many occasions, Jewish students have felt that they are fighting alone. We are grateful that Alex Chalmers has made the statement that he did and has brought the issue of anti-semitism to the fore in a way that Jewish students have so far been denied.
Oxford JSoc strongly rejects any accusation that Jewish students are inventing claims of anti-semitism to discredit Palestinian solidarity politics. This is a repeated trope that has been used to silence Jewish students and it will carry weight no longer. When anti-semitism intersects with Palestinian solidarity politics, it is not the job of Jewish students to be quiet, but the job of Palestinian solidarity activists to rid their movement of anti-Jewish prejudice.
Many of Oxford’s Jewish students who hold progressive views have long felt excluded from left-wing political spaces. Jewish students who raised the issue of anti-semitism at the OULC meeting were laughed at and mocked. It is high time that this issue is confronted. We hope Alex’s resignation triggers a broader awakening amongst student political movements, and that anti-semitism, particularly on the student left, is finally taken seriously.
That third paragraph is critical, and needs to be repeated over and over again. Jews have been too deferential to the Livingstone Formulation for too long, and it's high time it stopped carrying weight. Our sense of alienation and maltreatment is entitled to the same respect and concern as any other outgroup; casting it as a bad faith ploy is no less reactionary than when any other group is claimed to be "playing a card".


Binyamin Arazi said...

I am in the process of sketching out some guidelines on criticizing Israel from a progressive left standpoint. It will (probably) be published in Israellycool. If we're lucky, someone on the left will actually take it seriously.

On another note: your articles on Amp are still offline, even though the main site still works. Any idea what's going on? Your writings, especially 'The Superseded Jew', have helped me a lot in constructing my arguments.

David Schraub said...

I just spoke with Barry (AAB's proprietor). They continue to have trouble with their archives, and most old links don't work (he hopes to have them restored eventually, but no ETA on that). For the time being, you can find all the old posts here.