This was not an isolated event

An edited version of the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks’s speech at the launch of a report into antisemitism in Britain

December 16, 2010

Two weeks ago, a highly inflammatory speaker with known anti-Zionist views was allowed to speak at the LSE. No counter voice was allowed. Jewish students present were intimidated and verbally abused.

This was not an unforeseen outcome. The UJS, which has done outstanding work in recent years, raised its concerns in advance. Assurances were given by the LSE student union. In the event they were not honoured. They proved to be empty words.

If this were an isolated event, I would say no more, but it isn't. It's part of a process that has been going on now for almost a decade. There has been incident after incident in which Jewish students have been intimidated, and verbally and physically abused. The university authorities, if they have acted at all, have done too little too late.

In 2007 Ed Husain, an ex member of Hizb ut-Tahrir and who co-founded the Quilliam Foundation with Maajid Nawaz, published The Islamist. The first 70 pages were the most terrifying I have ever read. They tell of how a tiny handful of radical students instituted a regime of intimidation across an entire campus and how easy it was to scare the academic authorities into silence and inaction.

Why was it terrifying? Because it happened here.

Here is the thought pattern that is being promoted, as it affects Jews: All Jews are Zionists. All Zionists are evil. Therefore all Jews are evil. Substitute for the word "Zionist" the word "Capitalist" or the word "Communist" and you have classic antisemitism of the 19th and 20th centuries at its most blatant and dangerous.

The inflammatory public speeches being allowed to take place on campuses would, in any other context and directed against any other group, be prosecuted under the law forbidding incitement to racial and possibly religious hatred.

The university authorities are turning a blind eye and a deaf ear. This is not free speech. It is, if unchecked, the beginning of the end of free speech.

    Last updated: 3:26pm, December 16 2010