Terrified Jewish students flee campus after abuse from 100-strong mob

One victim said she would not return to campus out of fear for her safety


Some of the protesters who surrounded the stall

Terrified Jewish students are fleeing Exeter University campus after being surrounded and abused by a mob of 100 students while manning an Israel stall.

The Jewish students said they were were left feeling “broken” by the experience, during which one members of the crowd shouted that they had “killed” her brother.

Third-year International Relations student, Rojin-Sena Cantay, who helped put the information stall together in the university forum on Wednesday, said: “It was our first stall since October 7, we wanted to put the other side to students who have been protesting for Palestine every week.

“Instead, we were harassed and abused.

“Fruit squash was aimed at the Israeli flag on the stall, and it went all over my coat. It was red Robinson’s squash, I think they wanted to make it look like the flag had blood on it, but it didn’t work, it went all over us instead.”

Shortly after the stall went up between 2 and 3.30 pm a crowd started gathering to harass the Jewish students.

“Pictures were being taken that would have been sent all over student WhatsApp groups,” Cantay alleged, and more and more anti-Israel students arrived to surround the stall.

The group felt trapped, “we didn’t know if we could leave, we were surrounded”.

On the table were several fliers that provided information on the conflict, but Cantay said that students “ripped them up and threw them in our face.”

Cantay went on, “They referred to us as ‘you’ while referring to the actions of Israel, blaming us for the actions of a state thousands of miles away.

“I had a woman come into my face and scream that I killed her brother. I told her, ‘I haven’t killed your brother, Hamas killed your brother’.”

Cantay said she approached university security about the incident and requested police presence, but she was repeatedly told that “no crimes were being committed.”

Since the incident, Cantay said “People have told me, ‘yes but you did something controversial, you put up the stall,’ but we respected the Palestinian protests, we’ve never made them feel uncomfortable.

“We respect their right to freedom of speech, but they couldn’t respect ours.”

“It really makes you think, am I safe to exist as a Jew on my campus?” Cantay said.

In the wake of the incident, Cantay has decided to leave campus and is travelling back to her family home in London today.

“Half of us are going home because of what happened.” In her final month of university, Cantay said, “I might stay off campus until I graduate.”

A spokesperson for the University of Exeter said: “We can confirm we are investigating a report of an incident that took place on our campus. We are meeting with those involved to ensure they are receiving the appropriate support. University security was present throughout and members of the police, who were present at the University as part of a separate meeting, visited the stall before the incident occurred. As part of our investigation, we will review the full CCTV footage that is available.

"The welfare and safety of all our students is our highest priority. The University is clear that there is absolutely no place or justification for any instances of discrimination, hate or harassment and we are committed to ensuring our campuses are safe and welcoming for everyone within our community. We encourage anyone who may experience any such behaviour to report it immediately, and we will continue to offer and provide welfare support for those involved."

Cantay is a representative for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (Camera), an organisation which helps students correct campus misinformation.

Christina Jones, Camera’s UK Communication Associate, said: “The incident at Exeter University highlights the pressing need for institutions to actively address and combat antisemitism, ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all students. We call on Exeter University to thoroughly investigate this matter, take appropriate disciplinary actions, and implement measures to prevent such incidents in the future.”

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