Oxford students defeat anti-Israel campaign

By Marcus Dysch, February 12, 2009

An anti-Israel motion has been rejected by Oxford University Student Union after Jewish students persuaded members of every college to vote against it.

The motion called for the university to condemn Israel’s action in Gaza and the “hideous toll” on Palestinians.

The vote had been delayed to give students extra time to debate its contents. Last Friday, the union rejected the motion by 40 votes to 21.

Jewish academics at the university had earlier expressed concern over last month’s library sit-in by anti-Israel protestors.

One Reader claimed Oxford would be “a Jew-free zone” within five years, while a student told senior proctor Professor Donald Fraser that the atmosphere on campus had become “toxic”. Steven Altmann-Richer, chairman of the Oxford Jsoc presidents’ executive committee, said the defeat of the motion offered hope for the future.

“Things have calmed down on campus since the occupation ended. We are moving forward,” he said.

“At the last Jsoc event on Friday night we had a meeting with MuJewz, which promotes Muslim-Jewish dialogue. We discussed events we could run to improve relations.

“We also have a good relationship with the Islamic Society and hope to continue that in the future.”

Mr Altmann-Richer rejected the suggestion that Jewish students and academics would choose not to work and study at Oxford in the future.

“If anything, our community has been strengthened. The past few weeks have brought us together. We have done some great things, especially the way we organised support around the colleges to stop the motion. Since then we have felt much more positive,” he said.

Last updated: 5:24pm, August 17 2009