Chief Rabbi speaks on campus extremism

By Marcus Dysch, December 14, 2010
Lord Sacks

Lord Sacks

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has launched a blistering attack on university authorities and warned that they must not “turn a blind eye and deaf ear” to the rise of antisemitism on campuses.

In a passionate defence of Jewish students, he said universities had done “too little, too late” to tackle hate speakers appearing at universities.

The Chief Rabbi was speaking at the Department for Communities and Local Government ahead of the launch of a report into antisemitism in Britain.

He said he was “deeply concerned” about last week’s event at London School of Economics, where Abdel Bari Atwan accused Jewish students of “bombing Gaza” and spoke about the “Jewish lobby”.

The Chief Rabbi appeared to accuse LSE’s student union of lying to UJS about what the event would entail.

He chastised university vice-chancellors, saying the situation had been left to develop for almost a decade, and rubbished the argument that speakers must be allowed to appear on campuses to uphold “academic freedom”.

He said: “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.

“Jewish students are never safe. Jews are less than a half of a per cent of the population of this country. On every campus we’re a tiny minority.

“Let me be blunt. I believe that the inflammatory public speeches being allowed to take place on university 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.”

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Last updated: 4:39pm, December 14 2010