Jewish students face death threats as academics back intifada

Undergraduate attacked in Aberdeen four days after October 7 as universities become hotbeds for antisemitism


Pro-Palestine demonstrators hold placards as they gather to march in central London on May 22, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

British universities have become hotbeds of antisemitism since the October 7 massacre, with Jewish students facing intimidation from both students and lecturers.

One student was grabbed by her Star of David necklace and abused while a Jewish chaplain was told, “They’re watching you and the house”.

Claudia Caisley, a Jewish student in her first year at the University of St Andrews, was attacked four days after Hamas murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians on .

“I was just outside the pub when two boys who were standing there stopped me,” she said. “Within five seconds, one of them grabbed my Star of David necklace and pulled me towards him. I went with it, because I didn’t want it to break. Then he shouted ‘f*** Israel’.”

The president of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said he had received death threats, adding that Jewish students were frightened to display their identity.

The JC has also identified 15 student societies at universities around the country that have backed calls for an intifada, supported Hamas as “the resistance”, justified the terror attacks or used the “from the river to the sea” slogan, widely understood to be a call for the destruction of Israel.

Staff belonging to the Oxford and UCL branches of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) put forward motions in the past fortnight that urged an “intifada until victory”, while one University of Leicester professor hailed the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas as “heroic”.

Jonathan Hunter, chair of the Pinsker Centre think tank, said: “It is clear that, on many campuses, student groups are openly justifying the attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7, and in several cases have gone further — brazenly glorifying what took place.

"There should be no equivocation: calls for an intifada are an explicit rallying cry for a violent uprising that will, and has, resulted in the mass slaughter of civilians. There should be no place for it at universities.”

Socialist Appeal, which claims to have a presence at over 50 universities in the UK, has led calls on the streets of the UK for an intifada from “London to Gaza”.

Last Friday, UCL academics voted in favour of a motion penned by the group that claimed:
“Only a mass uprising on both sides of the green line and across the Middle East can free the Palestinian people, end the occupation, and ensure equal rights for all peoples.”

Insisting that it is the “duty” of “workers and youth” to support this struggle, it called upon members to launch “mass direct action” against, “companies, banks, and institutions that aid the manufacture and delivery of arms to Israel.”

The text, adopted by the university’s UCU union branch, concluded: “Intifada until victory!”
The government’s former independent review of terror legislation, Lord Alex Carlile, told the JC that any academics or students calling for an intifada should consult their lawyers “pretty damn quick”.

Lord Carlile said: “It is self-evident that calls for an intifada or anything like that falls potentially under Section Three on stirring up racial hatred of the 1986 Public Order act, just as would words uttered by a Jewish organisation against Muslims or other people from Gaza.

“So it follows that the law has already made it clear that such statements and activities might well be criminal.”

Barrister Jeremy Dein KC said that while courts would have to determine the meaning of intifada, it could be considered encouragement of terrorism or incitement to racial hatred.

He added: “It is clearly a call to violence, and in the current circumstances such violence would likely or inevitably be directed against Jews.”

A UCL spokesman condemned the union’s demands as “incoherent and disturbing” and said: “While they ‘condemn all forms of violence’ and note that the ‘deliberate killing of civilians is always an atrocity’, they also use language that clearly incites indiscriminate violence.”

The motion adopted by UCL staff was identical to one put forward by Oxford University academics last week, with both demanding a new “intifada”.

The text was only dropped after the university reportedly raised concerns that it could breach its harassment policy.

In a statement, Oxford Israel Society said: “In all our time in this university, we have never seen academics call for the violent destruction of the sole Jewish state, or for mass intifada, meaning a wave of murderous terror."

A University of Leicester spokesman said: “Thank you for bringing it to the University’s attention, please be assured that we take this matter very seriously and this is now being considered further under the University’s processes.”

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