Comment: In the front line, but we are battling hard

By Alex Dwek, March 10, 2011
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Most Jewish students have a fantastic time at university, participating in all aspects of student life thanks to the dedication of our Jewish Society leaders and the generosity of our community.

However, we cannot pretend that the problems on campus are rare or isolated. They are real, they are serious and they require a serious response.

Extremism is indeed thriving in a significant number of universities. Among the general vitriol, extreme anti-Zionist rhetoric - underpinned by classic antisemitic conspiracies and libels - has now become commonplace.

Universities are regarded quite rightly by many in our community as the key front line in the battle against antisemitism.

At stake is not just the safety and security of the Jewish community, but the British way of life, our way of life.

Key principles guide UJS's work. With the help of CST we are educating and training our students to identify and effectively challenge antisemitism wherever it occurs.

We have extraordinary students leading the fight on their campuses.

We understand we can't do this alone. That's why UJS works so hard to build relationships with universities, student unions and government.

Our campaign for tighter regulation of hate speakers on campuses is gaining ground.

Despite the conclusions of the Universities UK report, we welcome recent indications from the government that serious action will soon be taken.

We would like to see an extension of the guidelines implemented by Manchester University, which is now independently recording controversial speakers in order to hold students responsible for who they invite, and to prosecute if the law is broken.

There are many challenges ahead. Every year a new generation of Jewish students must be educated. Every hate speaker invited to campus needs to be challenged. Every incident must be followed up.

Alex Dwek is Union of Jewish Students' chair. This is an extract of a speech he gave at last week's CST dinner in the presence of Prime Minister David Cameron

    Last updated: 10:43am, March 10 2011