'It is intimidating. We are ashamed'


Israel Apartheid Week - now in its 11th year - sees campaigners erect fake Israeli checkpoints and walls, stalls promoting boycotts, and a stream of speakers on campuses across the country.

Jewish students, and those who support Israel, have come to dread the annual event.

Leeds University student Ben Winton, 23, said: "It is unpleasant. It is not an easy thing to deal with. Two years ago there was a very large crowd in front of one of the largest buildings on campus. It got to the point of physical violence."

Millie Foster is JSoc president at the London School of Economics. The 20-year-old said: "Jewish students are kind of ashamed to be associated with Israel because of the way it is portrayed on campus.

"For Jewish students it is quite intimidating, whether or not it is antisemitic."

David Tamman, 20, co-chair of LSE's Israel Society said: "The name - Israel Apartheid Week - can make Israeli and Jewish students feel uncomfortable. It causes feelings of tension. It feels quite scary for a country to be demonised in such a way."

The Union of Jewish Students has run a counter-campaign this week. Piece 2 Peace saw JSocs set up stalls on campuses across the country to promote Israel.

UJS campaigns officer Maggie Suissa said: "We take our students' safety and comfort really seriously which is part of the reason we work with them to make sure there is a campaign for those who want to be active."

UJS provided seminars to help students prepare to counter the attacks.

Ms Suissa added: "It is very frustrating: seeing a really one-sided, very limited argument, often expressed in quite an aggressive manner. It can make Israeli and Jewish students feel isolated. I see the detriment."

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