Anti-Israel students deal blow to campus relations

A university campus known as a hotbed of anti-Israel activity is once more in the spotlight after students condemned what they termed Israeli attacks on Palestinians’ right to education.

The students’ union at Middlesex University in north London has put up a plaque claiming that: “Checkpoints, attacks on universities and limitations on movement seriously hinder the ability of students in Palestine to learn.”

The plaque marks the twinning of the union with Al Quds University students’ union, which it describes as being located in “Jerusalem, Palestine”.

Board of Deputies’ vice-president Jonathan Arkush said the move had put at risk attempts to forge better links between Jews and non-Jews at the university.

“The language is tendentious and totally counter-productive of good relations between students on campus,” he said

Mr Arkush has previously voiced his concern over an increase in anti-Israel activity at the university, claiming that the well-being of Jewish students on its Hendon campus had been repeatedly threatened.

Last February, the Board described a Free Palestine Society debate at the university “one of the worst examples of hate speech in recent years”.

Mr Arkush said: “The vice chancellor assured me well over six months ago that he would make arrangements for the Board to meet senior academic leadership from Middlesex University to discuss the difficulties that Jewish students have faced there.

“I’m still waiting for a meeting and would say that Middlesex University is hardly covering itself in glory so far as the Jewish community is concerned.”

A university spokesperson said: “The union is an independent student-led organisation that decides itself which issues it seeks to discuss and campaign on.”

A spokesperson for the union said students had “democratically passed a motion to show support for the right to education for the Palestinian people.”

The Union of Jewish Students said it regarded the language of the plaque as “problematic”.

It was working with the university’s Jewish students to ensure they are fairly represented on campus.

Last updated: 1:45pm, November 7 2013