Friday, 6th February 2009 Melanie Phillips
I am hearing ever more alarming accounts of the deepening attrition against British Jews in the wake of the incitement against Israel provoked by the war in Gaza. In addition to the record number of attacks upon Jewish individuals and institutions and murderous incitement displayed on the anti-Israel demonstrations and riots as reported by the Community Security Trust, Jewish parents report that their children – some as young as eight – are now running a gauntlet of attack from their Muslim classmates at school who accuse them of 'killing Palestinian children'. Comments by adults about 'Jews controlling all the money/the media/the BBC' (yes, really! All because it allowed Israel's spokesman to put the case for Israel from time to time) are now commonplace in both private and public discourse. Today's Jewish Chronicle reports that a 12 year-old Birmingham schoolgirl was terrorised by a mob of 20 youths chanting 'Kill all Jews' and 'Death to Jews' on her way home from school last week:
She said: 'One of my friends said an Asian girl from the year above asked her why she was talking to me because I am Jewish. I asked the girl in a friendly manner if she had a problem with me being Jewish. She said "yeah, I do". I managed to punch her before she hit me but then she grabbed me by the hair and swung me around shouting "f****** Jews, I hate Jews". But then another Asian girl rounded up a whole gang. They were all in school uniform and they came running towards me shouting "death to Jews" and "kill all Jews."'
A reader has sent me the following account of what happened to him when, travelling on the Tube in London, he started to read a copy of The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz:
After a time, I became aware that a man sitting diagonally in front of me near the doors at the end of the carriage was looking a bit agitated and had a disgruntled expression on his face. However, he didn't meet my eye, so I thought nothing more of it and continued reading as before...When the train reached St Paul's, the man I had noticed stood up to get off. But instead of leaving by the end doors, he made to pass me. In the process of doing so, he deliberately shoved into me and made to crush me against the side of the carriage and the passengers sitting behind me. Despite already knowing exactly what had actuated this behaviour, I asked the question anyway - and received the following response: 'You shouldn't be reading that, you f***ing [indecipherable].'...The whole confrontation had taken place in the time it took for the tube doors to wheeze open and shut.
Other than in the Jewish press, such incidents are barely being reported. Last week, for example, there was virtually no coverage of the violent demonstration organised by the Stop the War coalition which prevented the deputy commander of Israel's Gaza operation from speaking at London's Jewish student centre, Hillel House, when a crowd of about 60-80 students attempted to storm the building.
One of the most troubling developments is the way in which the universities have become an extension of the Middle East conflict, with a simulacrum of the aggression, intimidation and violence from which Israel is under attack by the Arabs being directed at Jewish students on British campuses, who now routinely run a gauntlet of intimidation and abuse from Arab and Muslim students. But even more worryingly, some universities are spinelessly choosing to give in to such bullying.
Throughout last week, after the cease-fire was declared in Gaza, there was a series of anti-Israel sit-ins and demonstrations organised by the STWC at some 17 universities: in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics, Queen Mary College and King's College, as well as at Bradford, Sheffield Hallam, Warwick, Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, Sussex, Essex, Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Strathclyde. Some of these protests led to criminal damage and forced the universities to pay thousands of pounds to deal with the disruption, rearrange lectures, hire extra security guards and repair the damage.
The demonstrators took control of lecture halls and made a series of demands: that the universities should issue a statement condemning Israel's actions in Gaza; offer scholarships to Palestinian students; send surplus educational materials to help rebuild Gaza (presumably its Islamic University, said by Israel to be a fount of terror); dedicate some of their time to fund-raising for Gaza; and take no action against the demonstrators.
Some of these universities responded robustly to such disorder and intimidation. Manchester Metropolitan, Birmingham, Nottingham and, after some delay, Leeds and Cambridge reportedly refused to accept any of these demands. At Nottingham and Sheffield Hallam, the demonstrators were forcibly evicted.
But the LSE, King's College London, SOAS, Bradford, Strathclyde and Oxford reportedly gave in to some or all of these demands. According to the JC, the LSE agreed to waive application fees for Gaza and West Bank students 'directly affected by the conflict', while Bradford
agreed to investigate the 'ethical background' of food and drink served on campus, and promised to 'explore the feasibility of a twinning link with the Islamic University of Gaza'.
Strathclyde agreed among other things to cancel a contract with an Israeli water-cooler company. Oxford – which fined each demonstrator the princely sum of £20 – nevertheless started negotiations with them with indecent haste, and a mere few hours later had agreed to pretty well everything. In a craven letter to colleagues the Vice-Chancellor, John Hood, having stated that
unlawful action of this kind cannot be condoned
proceeded to reward it by giving the perpetrators what they had demanded.
The Oxford demonstrators also demanded that the title of the series of lectures on 'world peace' at Balliol, recently inaugurated by Israeli President Shimon Peres and named in his honour, be changed; the Senior Proctor, Professor Donald Fraser -- who oversees disciplinary matters and who recommended 'a relatively lenient course of action against the demonstrators '-- duly wrote to Balliol drawing its attention to the students' concerns.
Thus the trahison des clercs as they crumble in the face of criminality, violence and intimidation.
And so now at British universities --which should be the most protected of all environments for free discourse and inquiry -- British Jews no longer feel safe. At Nottingham, one such student said:
The sit-in has created an atmosphere where we do not feel comfortable going into shared buildings on campus.
At King's, another Jewish student said:
Someone from my course wrote 'kill the Jews' on my Facebook profile. Later he said he didn't know I was Jewish. In public someone said to me, 'I think all the Israelis are crazy and so are the f***ing Jews'.
And at Oxford, the JC reports:
One University Reader reportedly told a meeting that 'within five years, Oxford will be a Jew-free zone'
and a student wrote to Professor Fraser 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.
Meanwhile, of course, as Sky's Tim Marshall pointed out the other day on his blog, the government of Sri Lanka is also attempting to eradicate terrorism by a military campaign in which, according to the UN, 'many civilians are being killed', thousands made homeless, hundreds of thousands trapped, and to which, as food shortages grow, the government refuses to allow access to journalists. Yet there are no sit-ins on campus against the Sri Lankans, no violent riots outside its High Commission, no calls to boycott Orange Pekoe tea. As Marshall observed:
And yet somehow the lives of the 1,300 Palestinians killed by the Israelis causes far more outrage, in certain quarters, than the 2 million dead in Congo, the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed by Sunni and Shia terrorists, or the growing number of Sri Lankan dead to add to the 70,000 killed over the past 25 years (far more than the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed in the same period).
Of course – because the protests in Britain have nothing to do with humanitarian concerns for the innocent. They are part of the jihad against the Jews – and those in the universities and other parts of the establishment who are capitulating to or even endorsing this are accomplices to a great evil that is now consuming British public life.