Anger as Oxford University Labour students cleared of anti-Semitism

Posted On: 
18th January 2017

Jewish groups have reacted angrily after two Oxford University students accused of anti-Semitism were cleared by the Labour party.

Members of the Oxford University Labour club had been accused of engaging in anti-Semitic behaviour.
Credit: 
PA Images

It is understood that the party had recommended the pair be given warnings - but that was rejected by its disputes committee yesterday.

Labour announced an investigation following claims by the Oxford University’s Jewish society that some Labour students sang offensive songs, used terms such as “Zio” and expressed support for Palestinian terror group Hamas’ assaults on Israeli civilians.

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Alex Chalmers quit as co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, claiming some of its members “have some kind of problem with Jews".

Baroness Jan Royall, a former Labour leader in the House of Lords, produced a report into the Club saying there was a “cultural problem” which meant some Jewish members were uncomfortable attending meetings but concluded that there was no evidence that the club was “institutionally anti-Semitic”.

Mr Chalmers said the party's decision to clear the students accused of anti-Semitism was "disappointing but unsurprising".

“It is entirely in line with the indifference, lack of transparency, and bad faith that has characterised the response of certain parts of the Labour leadership to claims of antisemitism.”

The Union of Jewish Students said; "The party had an opportunity to put its values into practice, to demonstrate how seriously they take the issue of anti-Semitism and to show that Labour Clubs are welcome spaces for Jewish students, but they have failed miserably.

“They have let Jewish students down and in doing so, they have created an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism may thrive without fear of being challenged.

“We refuse to rest until action is taken, and we will be working with Jewish students at Oxford to explore further avenues to achieve this.”

Jeremy Newmark, chair of Jewish Labour Movement, told the Jewish News: “This decision rides roughshod over the concerns and experiences of our student members.

“They do not feel comfortable attending meetings of their own Labour club. This has been looked at by three inquiries and one investigation.

“The complainants have not heard from the party for nearly a year – even to inform them of this decision."

A report in to anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was launched in June by human rights campaigner and now Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti and leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Its recommendations included: "Racial or religious tropes and stereotypes about any group of people should have no place in our modern Labour party."

Mr Newmark added: "It is many months since Chakrabarti recommended an overhaul of the complaints and investigations process but seemingly nothing has changed."