Written by Student Rights on 31 August 2012 at 3pm

Student societies and the undercurrent of anti-Semitism

As the new academic year approaches for the UK’s universities, many students will be looking forward to returning to the activities of their student societies if not their studies.

However, as evidence found by the Student Rights social media monitoring programme demonstrates, in some student societies an undercurrent of anti-Semitism still exists which will make many Jewish students feel uncomfortable and unhappy at their institutions.

The most recent example of this can be found at the University of Westminster, where last year Student Rights were present as a senior Hizb ut-Tahrir member refused to condemn a statement which said “O Muslim Armies! Teach the Jews a lesson after which they will need no further lessons. March forth to fight them, eradicate their entity and purify the earth of their filth”.

An individual who regularly posts on both the Islamic Society and Global Ideas Society Facebook pages has shared a picture with the Global Ideas Society criticising Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, in itself a legitimate political opinion.

However, this is accompanied by a statement which claims that “Zionism, [is]the filth Khilafah will deal with first to eliminate completely from the face of this earth”.

Over at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) a similar story can be found, after a picture which appeared to show the Star of David on the roof of Tehran airport was shared with the Islamic Society on Facebook.

This was followed by comments which included claims that the symbol was “the sign of Dajjal [Anti-Christ], threats that “the racist zionazi entity will learn the hard way,,,soon!” and prayers asking “may Allah's curse be on jews and its associates”.

Whilst these comments are unlikely to have been made by SOAS students, the fact that the post is yet to be removed by the page administrators suggests a degree of support.

This perception can be strengthened by the fact that the picture and its associated comments were also shared via Facebook with the Islamic Society at the University of the Arts London, but no longer appear on the page.

Given the number of anti-Semitic incidents that we have covered at Student Rights over the last few years, these recent social media posts will be unlikely to surprise many of our regular readers, yet they highlight a continuing issue that universities must take seriously.

Bigotry of any kind is unacceptable both on campus and in the virtual world that revolves around it, and we would urge both the University of Westminster and SOAS to make their students aware of this.