JONNY PAUL, jerusalem post correspondent, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 15, 2006
The student union at a prominent British university has voted to gag the
Jewish Society from complaining against an increasingly intense anti-Israel
campaign by the university's Palestinian society.
The student union at the University of Leeds, home of a large Jewish student
population, last Friday voted on a motion proposed by the Palestinian
Solidarity Group to ignore complaints by the Jewish Society "as long as
Judaism as a faith is not offended."
The Palestinian Solidarity Group, which has a history of hostile campaigning
against Israel, using terms such as "apartheid" and "racist," claimed that
the existing practice of considering every complaint received by the student
union as a real complaint constituted "an arbitrary use of authority."
Students have voiced concern that the motion singles out the university's
Jewish students and denies them basic rights enjoyed by other students and
Leeds University Student Union (LUU) released a statement on Thursday
saying: "LUU are committed to maintaining the freedom for all our members to
follow individual beliefs in a positive and harmonious environment.
Following the outcome of the recent referendum, LUU will continue to build
positive relationships between groups and individuals on campus, and we
assure all students that regardless of belief or background that their
safety and welfare are paramount.
"Policy passed by the referendum in no way changes Jewish students' right to
support the State of Israel or debate the issue. The Union is an
organization which supports and provides opportunities for debate and
expression; however we will not tolerate behavior which strays into the
realms of racial or religious hatred, and any instances of anti-Semitism
will be dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner.
"We believe all students have a right to study in an open and fair
environment without fear of prejudice. We intend to continue our fight for
equality following a year in which LUU received national coverage for its
fight against fascism, and are constantly looking for ways to strengthen
interfaith relations on campus, through LUU's interfaith forum. We remain
committed to maintaining the freedom for all our members to follow
individual beliefs in a positive and harmonious environment."
Mitch Simmons, campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students, said:
"While there is concern about the events at Leeds University as part of a
wider movement on campuses to delegitimize Israel and the connection to the
Jewish people, UJS along with the Jewish societies across the UK will be
fighting to ensure the right of Jewish students to show about how proud we
are to support Israel and be a Zionist and Jewish on campus."
He said the motion will be raised again at a referendum in February, when it
is expected to be defeated.
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