- Simon Friend
Mar 19, 2009
UJS held a party in celebration of Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary this week. The event, held in Birmingham’s Custard Factory nightclub, was attended by hundreds of Jewish students, making it the largest Jewish student event this year. The klezmer band Ghetto Plotz played alongside renowned DJs the Scratch Perverts, with live acts from acrobats and break-dancers.
- Simon Friend
Mar 19, 2009
King’s College Student Union escaped a take-over bid by anti-Israel campaigners at elections for its student board positions last Friday.
A group called “Another King’s is Possible” put forward six candidates who said their candidacy “emerged from the occupation at Strand”, a pro-Palestinian sit-in demonstration on a King’s campus in January, which was repeated in 17 other universities nationwide. Dalia Nelson, outgoing co-chair of umbrella student society London JSocs, says the group would have hijacked the union with anti-Israel campaigns.
“These people were intent on causing disruption. Had they got in, we would have been subjected to a constant barrage of anti-Israel protest on an almost daily basis.”
Dan Matalon of Bournemouth University was the only Jewish student to be running this year for the post of president of his students’ union. Mr Matalon has held the positions this year of JSoc president and executive officer of the union, but was unsuccessful in his campaign, gaining only 370 votes (23 per cent), 223 votes behind his nearest rival.
Last week, former Fatah leader Hussam Khader was removed from SOAS’s “‘Israeli Apartheid Week” bill, having been refused permission to travel by Israel. Khader was arrested in 2003 and convicted of being a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement that played a key role in the second intifada, and for helping fund the group through connections to Hizbollah and Iran.
Jeneration, the student branch of the Movement for Reform Judaism, has appointed a second campus fieldworker. Dan Rickman has joined Sheldon Mordsley to work on various university campuses across the country. Mr Rickman commented: “I know the importance of having a good time at university, but I have also learnt that it is a great opportunity to start asking key questions about life and really explore who you are and who you want to become.”
The top two students in next year’s sabbatical team at the University of London Union (ULU) have both recently been actively involved in anti-Israel campaigning. ULU, which includes London campuses such as University College, LSE, King’s College and Queen Mary’s College, this week elected Nizam Uddin as next year’s president. Currently the co-president of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ (SOAS) Students’ Union, Uddin called his university’s “Tel Aviv 100” lecture series “embarrassing”.
- Geoffrey Paul
Mar 8, 2009
Gallup has completed the first ever nationally representative in-depth analysis of how American Muslims see themselves and their status in the US. What Gallup has not been able to do is establish just how many Muslims there are in the States. Estimates vary widely from 1.2 million to as many as 8 million. What Gallup did discover is that 35 per cent of the Muslim population is Afro-American, 28 per cent describe themselves as “white” and 18 per cent say they are of Asian origin. The Gallup researchers placed Muslim responses to their queries alongside those of other major religious denominations. The result is that we have some interesting comparisons with the Jewish community (estimated 5.3 million). For one thing, the percentage of young Muslims aged between 18 and 29 is 36 per cent of the sample surveyed. This is much larger than Jews in the same age bracket – 16 per cent. Of the Muslims in that age range, 41 per cent said they went to the mosque at least once a week. Young Jews who went to synagogue were less than one half of that, 19 per cent.. In a question which covered all age ranges, 80 per cent of Muslims and 39 per cent of Jews said that religion was important in their daily life (which placed Jews well below the national average of 65 per cent). Jews in total were also well below both the Muslim and national average of those attending a place of prayer at least once a week. Overall, 40 per cent of Muslims said they had a college degree or higher. For Jews, that figure was 61 per cent, while Muslims earning over $5000 a month totalled 28 per cent. For Jews, the figure was 41 per cent. Asked if they felt they were thriving or struggling, 41 per cent of Muslims said they were thriving, 56 per cent said struggling (Jews 56 per cent and 41 per cent respectively). The same percentage in both groups – 3 – said they were “suffering.” Both were more charitable (70 per cent and 78 per cent} than the national average of 64 per cent but when it came to political outlook only 29 per cent of Muslims described themselves as liberal or very liberal. The figure for Jews was 45 per cent.
[You can read the whole, very lengthy survey here: http://www.muslimwestfacts.com/mwf/116074/Muslim-Americans-National-Portrait.aspx]
Israel Apartheid Week was not greeted with total apathy. Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre took a tough attitude to the growing harassment of Jewish students on campuses across Britain and north America. It has launched a new campaign which is aimed, according to the centre’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, at “debunking the mythology of the anti-Israel forces”. Central to the campaign is “iCan”, featuring two aluminium cans connected with string. The iCan posters and adverts in student papers ask where modern society would be if it boycotted Israeli technology.
The former Israeli ambassador to the UK, Yehuda Avner, last week spoke to a crowd of 120 students from universities around the country in Oxford’s David Slager Jewish Student Centre. The talk, hosted by Chabad, was set against the backdrop of a small crowd of anti-Israel protesters who demonstrated against the speaker, waving flags and offering leaflets to passers-by and people entering the centre. Rabbi Eli Brackman, who chaired the event, said: “The protesters respectably fell silent not to disturb the prayers that were going on inside, after they learnt from a student that it was a religious, rather than political, event.” The student centre was patrolled by a number of representatives from the Community Security Trust, and the protesters voluntarily dispersed by the end of the evening.
The co-editors of Oxford University’s student newspaper, Cherwell, resigned this week because of a spoof issue that joked about paedophilia and the Holocaust. Lecher was distributed last November and included a story in which two students talked about molesting and killing babies, and another about a street musician in Oxford playing the bagpipes and joking that it was used for torture by the Nazis.
A picture showed a former editor of the publication covered in a white sheet, impersonating the Ku Klux Klan. Sian Cox-Brooker and Michael Bennett, who were elected as editors for the new term, were held responsible by Oxford Student Publications Ltd., despite insisting in a statement that they were “not responsible for the compilation of that edition.” Cox-Brooker and Bennett further noted that they “understand that satire can be misconstrued”, and “as this term’s editors we apologise for any offence which might have been caused and have now resigned”.