UK students hold the key to defeating campus extremism

Exremism on the British campus has invaded the mainstream. But ordinary students can stamp it out if they make the effort. A student tells of his experiences.

Clean up our universities
Bernard Mccabe
On 6 April 2011 15:03

“The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians… To paint the picture that all Jews have always had to flee persecution is just plainly inaccurate.”

This isn’t some bilge coming from the mouth of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or some irrelevant demagogic cleric. These are the words of the President of the University of London Union, representing almost 150,000 students. It would, of course, be very easy to say (as she did) that this filth is “badly worded” and was “made in haste”. It would be even easier to say that these are the views of one irrelevant woman and that no one actually cares about student politics anyway. But it runs much deeper. Anti-Semitic hatred is on the increase across University campuses.

Take, for example, the recent Judaeophobic attack at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where at a ‘Celebrate Palestine’ event during the infamous ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’, four pro-Israel demonstrators were verbally and physically attacked, leaving one hospitalised after being bitten in the cheek. This contemptuous attack was not political – it was to do with hatred of the worst kind, with one of the men present even allegedly saying the greatest thing the “Jews had ever done was to go into the gas chambers”.

This Jew-loathing isn’t exclusive to London either. President of the National Union of Students, Aaron Porter (a man hated by the student far-left already) was subjected to iniquitous abuse in Manchester, being barraged with chants such as  “you’re a Jew now, Porter” and “you’re a f***ing Tory Jew”.

Despite the menacing volume of the soapbox tyrants on the far left and far right on our campuses, there is a sensible, pluralist majority; and we refuse to any longer allow racial hatred to taint the once excellent reputation of our universities. The Jewish Chronicle has reported that in the past month, Israeli students have been touring UK campuses to expose the lies of ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’. On a visit to Goldsmiths, the group hosted a ‘Bridge-Building’ event, despite protestations from the college’s Union and attempts to get them to leave the campus. Likewise, Jewish societies at universities across the UK used facts and dialogue to fight the abuse of the anti-Semites and race-baiters.

Here in London, I, along with two others (all three of us being completely apathetic towards student politics usually) set up a modest campaign on Facebook against the re-election of Ms. Solomon as the University of London Union President. It grew more than we could have thought and ended up with more supporters than her own campaign page. She ultimately lost the election, with voter turnout being up by roughly the same amount as the number of supporters our campaign managed to gather.

Increasingly, students across the United Kingdom are palpably sick and tired of being represented by apologists for hate. Our best weapon against propaganda and abuse is dialogue and discussion. Ignorance and apathy have given the extremists too much room to allow their insidious racism. We can only combat this by raising awareness.

Ben McCabe is a student at University College London who was previously uninvolved in student politics but is now passionately committed to stopping the rise of campus extremism. See his website here.

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