Greg Hurst, Nicola Woolcock
Young Jews reject top universities over antisemitism
Jewish students will turn their backs on leading universities en masse as they react to growing campus antisemitism, it has been claimed.
Jews disproportionately attend a small number of universities, which they have nicknamed “Jewnis”. The University of Manchester was once one of the most favoured but lost its place to Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham after pro-Palestinian motions by its student union. These included twinning with An-Najah University in the West Bank.
Bristol has rapidly grown in popularity among Jews. Cambridge and Oxford also have significant numbers, as do University College London, King’s College London and LSE.
Jonathan Neumann, a director of Jewish Human Rights Watch, said that hostility towards Jewish students was worsening and LSE in particular was falling in popularity among Jewish applicants after a series of controversies over alleged antisemitism.
He said: “Manchester was a very popular university with the Jewish community until several years ago when there were a number of incidents and an atmosphere there that became increasingly hostile and as a result Manchester is no longer on the radar of a lot of Jewish students.”
The warning comes after a series of incidents of antisemitism or anti-Israel protests at top universities, including Cambridge, York, Oxford and King’s.
Jewish Human Rights Watch has written to Cambridge protesting at a mock “military checkpoint” with Israeli flags put up by pro-Palestinian students, one of a series of events for “Israel Apartheid Week”.
Jewish students also protested about a short play, Seven Jewish Children, performed at the University of York, saying it was antisemitic. The university defended it as free speech.
Earlier the co-chairman of Oxford University Labour Club resigned, claiming the university’s student left had “some kind of problem with Jews”. Last month students disrupted a meeting addressed by an Israeli politician hosted by the Jewish societies of King’s College London and LSE.
The Institute for Jewish Policy Research, which looked at where Jewish students studied in 2011, found a quarter of its sample went to Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham, and half were at eight out of 113 universities.
Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the institute, said it found that Jewish students chose universities predominantly based on their degree course but the presence of large numbers of other Jewish students was a factor, especially for religious students.
CST, an organisation that works to protect Jews, recorded 21 antisemitic incidents involving students last year, more than double the number in 2013.