Last month, a British peeress declared that some campuses in her country were becoming “no-go zones for Jews.” Maajid Nawaz, detailing a series of examples of the anti-Semitic climate prevalent at British universities—including some violent incidents—places the blame primarily on the National Union of Students (NUS) and an alliance among the left, the far right, and Islamists:
Last summer the NUS passed a motion removing the right of Jewish students to vote for their own representative to the union’s anti-racism and anti-fascism committee. The NUS also held debates on whether to drop Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations, [a proposition] to which large numbers of attendees reportedly cheered and applauded. The election of Malia Bouattia as the head of the NUS leaves little room for hope that things will change.
In 2011 the now-NUS president wrote that Birmingham University was “something of a Zionist outpost.” By 2014 she was arguing in a speech called “Gaza and the Palestinian Revolution” that boycotts and non-violent protests were insufficient. For Bouattia, the only way to free Palestine was to take orders on resistance from what she called “Palestinians on the ground.”
Bouattia was also responsible for the efforts to block an NUS motion condemning Islamic State as a terrorist organization and to show solidarity with the Kurds. The claim was that this would be read as Islamophobic. After much condemnation a reworded motion was later passed. The NUS, [however], did adopt a motion with relative ease to boycott Israel. Curiously, [in this case] the same logic was not used and [the decision] was not deemed anti-Semitic. Matters came to a head last September as 44 student leaders signed an open letter stating that Jewish students did not feel safe participating in the national student movement.
How did it all come to this? The perfect storm: Islamist theocrats, their regressive-left apologists, and right-wing populists. Though they may hate each other, they agree to hate Jews more. I call this Europe’s triple threat, and it is tearing our political culture asunder, poisoning our discourse, and leaving a nasty aftertaste to campus activism. No surer sign of rising fascism have we had in our history than the scapegoating of our Jewish communities. Alarm bells should be sounding, and yet they are not.
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