Marcus Dysch

Campus extremism report gives green light to radical speakers

By Marcus Dysch, February 18, 2011

Guidelines on tackling extremism and hate speakers on British university campuses have been published following a year-long investigation.

Universities UK, the umbrella group representing university heads, said it could find “no simple answers or absolute rules” but sets out guidance on dealing with controversial speakers, protests, student societies and serious incidents on campus.

The report gives the green light to universities to continue inviting radical speakers to appear on campus by encouraging institutions to “engage” with them.


Survey results to shape future

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

The largest study of Jewish student identity and what it means to be Jewish on campus was launched this week.

It is expected the results will shape the community's work with students for the next decade.

The survey has been commissioned by UJS Hillel and is being conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).


Reformed neo-Nazi extremist discusses past

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

Former neo-Nazi Pawel-Pinchas Bromson spoke to more than 500 students as he conducted his first tour of Britain.

Mr Bromson, from Warsaw, visited campuses to tell the dramatic story of how he was a radical hater of foreigners, including Jews and Arabs, until he discovered that he and his wife were Jewish. The tour was organised by Chabad.

Mr Bromson explained how he made the discovery in a stack of papers he found in Warsaw Museum.

Later he plucked up the courage to visit the city's synagogue and was helped to embrace Orthodox Judaism and an observant lifestyle.


Free workshops will prepare job-seekers

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

A new project offering students help to prepare for job applications is being promoted on campuses this month.

Backed by UJS and Jeneration, recruitment specialist Simon Rickman will tour universities presenting free workshops which will provide advice on recognising strengths and weaknesses and the best way to land a dream job.

Mr Rickman said: "I've been in recruitment for more than 25 years and friends have always asked me to help their sons and daughters apply for jobs.

"I like to coach people and have always done so with great pleasure and some success.


Shabbat dinner for just £2

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

Around 1,000 students will take part in Shabbat UK on March 11.

The Union of Jewish Students' initiative offers the chance for every Jewish student in the country to have a Shabbat experience, regardless of where they live or study.

This year's event has a Sephardi theme, and for just £2 each participant receives a Friday night dinner including Shabbat candles and challah.

To reserve a meal, or for more information, email


Go easy on easyJet

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

There’s something about the story of easyJet selling bacon sandwiches on its Tel Aviv flights which really rubs me up the wrong way.

Passenger Victor Kaufman believes easyJet were “insensitive” and need “a lesson or two on cultural awareness”.

Get a grip.

The affair reminds me of the totally unnecessary complaints made to Marks and Spencer last year over a lingerie advert .


Stalker faces new breach trial

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

A former TV producer who was previously jailed for stalking a young mother faces a new trial for an alleged breach of a life-long restraining order.

Elliot Fogel, 35, claims the new case was brought against him after he had attempted to take civil action against the woman he stalked.

Last year Claire Waxman described how Mr Fogel's harassment had ruined her life and the strain it had put on her health and her family's well-being.

Mr Fogel, of Edgware, north west London, is barred from being within one mile of Mrs Waxman at any time and must not contact her directly or indirectly.


Gay couples may be able to wed in synagogue

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

Gay couples may soon be able to marry legally in both Reform and Liberal synagogues under proposed changes to marriage laws.

Same-sex couples are expected to be given the right to hold legal civil
partnership ceremonies in places of worship.

The move would enable non-Orthodox communities to hold a wedding under a chuppah, and immediately follow it with a civil ceremony in a shul.

Liberal Judaism, Quakers and gay rights groups, led the pressure on the government to offer greater equality.


Ladbrokes founder Cyril Stein dies

By Marcus Dysch, February 16, 2011

Philanthropist Cyril Stein, the former chairman of the Ladbrokes betting company, has died.

Mr Stein was a key fundraiser and supporter of the JNF and was UJIA honorary vice-president.

He was in his early 80s and died in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Mr Stein founded the Ladbroke betting business and floated it on the London Stock Exchange in 1967. At the time it was worth £1 million.

When he left the company in 1994 it was valued at around £2 billion. His personal wealth was estimated at £60m in 2008.

Mr Stein was chair of the JNF’s £10m project to redevelop the Negev.


The EDL's most significant Jewish recruit?

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Regular readers will know that in recent months we have covered the English Defence League’s attempts to attract Jewish supporters to its cause .

Jewish communal groups such as the Board of Deputies and Community Security Trust have repeatedly warned of the dangers the extreme right-wing anti-Islam group pose, not only to British Muslims but also British Jews.


Time to burst the Birmingham bubble?

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Wandering around campus, a student is likely to bump into a few acquaintances - coursemates, Facebook friends, perhaps the peculiar guy from first year whose name they can't remember.

But for Birmingham's Jewish student population "a few" doesn't cover it. Gila Gordan said: "There are thousands of students here but I bump into Jewish people I know absolutely everywhere. My non-Jewish friends ask how I know them all."

For 19-year-old Gila, who chose to study in Birmingham for the "full experience of a Jewish social life", the situation is not a problem.


Campus notebook - Purim in Spain

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Jewish identity in the 21st century was the topic for debate when historian Yaakov Wise, of Manchester University's Centre for Jewish Studies, visited Liverpool.More than 30 students attended Dr Wise's discussion, hosted by Rabbi Shmuli Brown, director of Chabad of Liverpool Universities.


UJS lobbyists deliver concerns to Westminster

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Students from around the country united to call on the government and universities to do more to tackle hate speech on campuses.

More than 100 students attended the Union of Jewish Students' annual lobby day at Parliament last week.

John Mann MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, addressed lobbyists.

Students met their constituency MPs and encouraged them to pressure Universities Minister David Willetts and vice-chancellors to deal more effectively with extremism on campus.


All aboard for trips to 'you know where'

By Marcus Dysch, February 4, 2011

A travel firm has admitted that its advert for a tour of Israel fails to mention the country's name because it wanted to "avoid upsetting anyone".

Riviera Travel runs an eight-day trip to sample the "enduring appeal of Jerusalem, Galilee and the Dead Sea".

Michael Wright, Riviera's managing director, said Israel had been omitted due to the "overwhelming desire to avoid upsetting anyone". He added: "We are just tour operators."

He said the company had taken a lead from the Advertising Standards Authority, which banned an advert describing the Western Wall as part of Israel.


Anti-Israel protesters clash with Israel's top Bedouin diplomat

By Marcus Dysch, February 4, 2011

University security officers were called to protect the most senior Muslim in the Israeli Foreign Ministry when pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted his appearance at a British campus.

Diplomat Ismail Khaldi, a Galilee Bedouin, had just started to speak at Edinburgh University on Wednesday evening when demonstrators began chanting and surrounded him.

The university’s International Relations Society had earlier pulled out of the event, saying the invitation to Mr Khaldi was “unjust to the Palestinian people who live under an apartheid regime”.


Ambassadors will improve unity

By Marcus Dysch, February 3, 2011

What do a part-time imam, a martial arts enthusiast and a potential Olympic rower have in common?

They are all starting work as campus ambassadors for the Coexistence Trust, combating antisemitism and Islamophobia at universities across the country.

The one-year leadership programme for first and second year Jewish and Muslim students was launched at the House of Lords last week.

Working on a dozen campuses, the ambassadors will engage with students from all religious backgrounds to develop social action projects, explore common links, and promote positive interfaith work.


Government fails to act on campus

By Marcus Dysch, February 3, 2011

The government department responsible for universities has admitted having no recent discussions with higher education authorities over campus invitations to hate speakers.

The revelation came in a written response to a parliamentary question tabled by Lord Beecham. He had asked what representations had been made to university authorities about invitations to speakers with a history of promoting antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism on campus.


Pro-Israel activists lobby MPs

By Marcus Dysch, February 3, 2011

More than 300 pro-Israel activists met their MPs to voice concerns during the Zionist Federation's annual Parliamentary lobby day.

They expressed their fears over rising extremism on campuses and attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East during sessions with parliamentarians last week.

A training session for lobbyists was led by ZF president Eric Moonman and Jacob Vince of Christian Friends of Israel.

Around 100 MPs, including Sir Alan Beith, Louise Ellman, Lee Scott, Theresa Villiers and Luciana Berger, later met constituents for private meetings.


NUS president subjected to antisemitic abuse

By Marcus Dysch, January 31, 2011

The president of the National Union of Students (NUS) was the target of antisemitic abuse as he attempted to speak at a student fees protest.

Aaron Porter, who is not Jewish, was escorted away from the demonstration in Manchester last Saturday as protesters chanted “Tory Jew scum”.

The Union of Jewish Students has condemned the abuse, which is thought to have been started by a group of five to 10 protesters before others joined in.


Campus extremism - Radio 4 'Sunday'

By Marcus Dysch, January 30, 2011

This morning I made a brief appearance on Radio 4’s Sunday show as part of a discussion on campus extremism – a topic I have written about here many times before.

The BBC’s Trevor Barnes investigated the rise of extremism and antisemitism at UK universities and spoke to students at the launch of the Coexistence Trust’s Campus Ambassadors scheme last Wednesday.

To listen to the report click here, and scroll to around 30 minutes.