We have all seen many of the violent anti-Semitic protests in Europe during the recent Gaza War. Lately I have been receiving some more personal accounts:
- A student who I know–and is not an extremist or alarmist–just wrote me this from London: “It is bad here I was in a school a week ago at a meeting, after which the following comment was heard from 17 year old school students [Muslims] : “kill the Jews” , “slaughter to the Jews”
- From a friend in Tel Aviv-Will Sweden and Holland, Belgium and France, and the UK become places where Jews will not be able to live in the future? Of course, we shouldn’t exaggerate. Many will continue to live well there. But the situation is becoming dangerous and uncomfortable….But let me put it this way, when I walk around my neighborhood I sure hear a lot of French!
- From an economist in the UK ….points out that Aliyah always rises in recessions. In the early phase of this recession there is already an usually high degree of antisemitism (that always rises in a recession too). He thinks the Israeli government’s forecasts of Aliyah might be much too low.
- Another friend says, In the past eight months four colleagues from the UK have made Aliya, they were defiantly influenced by the conditions in the UK
Obviously four quotes does not make a trend, but when you look at these on top of the violent anti-Semitic riots in over the past month things its getting a bit dangerous to be Jewish in many European countries.
The latest example of this nascent trend is Oxford University, where some people say the University Administration is allowing it to become a toxic environment for Jews:
Toxic atmosphere’ at Oxford University
From The Jewish Chronicle February 5, 2009
Jewish students at Oxford University have accused it of appearing to “appease” organisers of a sit-in at the university library last month in protest at Israel’s actions in Gaza.
The incident is also said to have disturbed some Jewish academics. One University Reader reportedly told a meeting that “within five years, Oxford will be a Jew-free zone”.
In an official reaction to the protest, the Senior Proctor of the university, Professor Donald Fraser, who oversees disciplinary matters, recommended “a relatively lenient course of action” against the demonstrators.
He also agreed to take up several of their concerns, including writing to Balliol College, “drawing attention to the protestors’ concerns about the title of the lecture series inaugurated by Shimon Peres”.
In November, the Israeli president — braving noisy hecklers — delivered the first of a Balliol lecture series on world peace sponsored by the publisher Lord Weidenfeld.
Rachel Romain and Rafi Cohen, joint presidents of Oxford JSoc, said the Senior Proctor’s statement had been “received with great unease within the Jewish student body”.
They said that while “he has agreed to look into four out of five of the protestors’ demands, there is no mention of the contrary opinions held by other students or those who think that the protest was a disgrace.
“It seems that the university authorities are all too ready to placate and appease those whose actions catch media attention rather than the majority of students who favour dialogue.”
For his part, Lord Weidenfeld regretted that the Senior Proctor appeared to be unaware that the peace lectures “were not specifically concerned with Israel”.
The aim was to invite different people involved in bridge-building and peace-making in different parts of the world, he explained. “The next lecture will be about the Balkans.”
Releasing the text of his letter to Balliol, Professor Fraser said that the protestors had been told that unless they left the building on the evening of the protest, they could face criminal charges.
He wrote: “The occupiers and protestors asked me to express to you their wish that ‘Balliol reconsider the title of the lectures inaugurated by Shimon Peres’.
“Of course the Proctors have no role in the affairs of Balliol unless called by the college to uphold some aspect of university discipline. I therefore pass this letter to you… as a matter of trust between me as Senior Proctor and the occupants and as a request by them.”
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He also revealed that a student had written to him, warning that “for Jewish students, the university and the city have developed a toxic atmosphere in which I and many others feel increasingly alienated and unwelcome”.
But Professor Fraser said the student seemed to have been “reassured” by his response.
He had also written to the university’s vice-chancellor, hoping that one eminent Jewish figure with strong links to Oxford “can be brought round, for it really would be regrettable if senior alumni were to be seen to attack the university externally on the basis of misleading evidence.”