972 has reported that antisemitic and white supremacist slogans were visible on students’ t-shirts at an off-campus event in Exeter, attended by University of Exeter students. The University of Exeter is one of the UK’s top institutions.
A social event of the Snow Sports society at the Timepiece nightclub on Tuesday night saw various students with white t-shirts, which they and other students wrote on.
One slogan written on a t-shirt read “The Holocaust was a good time”. Another read “Don’t speak to me if you’re not white”.
There were also two students with Swastikas on their t-shirts.
Lauren Fry, head of the Snow Sports Society commented:
“Comments like these are not tolerated within our club,” she said. “Unfortunately, as only eight committee members, we can not be responsible for everything written by other students, especially when there is over 1,000 people. Timepiece were asking people to leave or change if they were seen in the venue with any abusive slogans on their t- shirts. As far as I’m aware no complaints were made. We apologise if we offended any one and we feel appropriate action was taken on the night to deal with these type of slogans if they were seen on anyone at our social. Snowsports has a zero tolerance policy for these actions and we will be contacting our members in due course to express this”
And a University of Exeter spokesman added:
“The university does not tolerate racist or bigoted behaviour in any form. This is the first we knew of this and shall be launching a full investigation”.
The prolific Jewish issues blogger “Elder of Ziyon” criticised 972’s coverage of this story, which lamented not simply the fact that a clear-cut antisemitic incident had occurred, but instead felt the need to emphasise that they “directly affect national conversation on racism, anti-Semitism and Israel-Palestine”. Antisemitic incidents are not bad because they make pro-Palestinian discourse look bad, or because they may make people more receptive to the concerns of Zionists. They are bad in their own right and need no further qualification of this fact.
Elder of Ziyon writes:
“But Reimer apparently is upset about antisemites who also hate Israel, because they make all Israel-haters look like antisemites.
As a result, a story about antisemitism must be contextualized to say ‘hey, we Israel bashers are against antisemitism too! Not only because it is deplorable, but also because it makes us look bad!'”
This news comes amidst concerns of rising antisemitism on University campuses, particularly following the election of Malia Bouattia as head of the National Union of Students (NUS) and the subsequent decision to strip Jewish students of the right to elect their own representatives. There have been several high profile cases of antisemitism and intimidation of Jewish students on UK campuses, including the resignation of the head of Oxford University Labour Club amidst concerns of a culture of antisemitism both there and on other campuses and the disruption of a pro-Israel event, involving the assault of a Jewish student at King’s College London. Recently, a Jewish student was awarded over a thousand pounds in compensation after being subjected to two years of antisemitic abuse at the University of York. A report by Lesley Klaff at Sheffield Hallam University states that Jewish students “frequently complain of anti-Semitic harassment”, which is subsequently only handled by the Student Unions, with University officials often unwilling to take solid action.
Last year it was reported that Jewish students were selecting their University choices not based upon where they felt they would have the best education, or find the courses that interested them the most, but instead were making these important choices on the grounds of where they are least likely to encounter antisemitism. In light of this, and in light of the myriad of other worrying events that have affected Jewish students in the UK, incidents such as this only cement the fact that antisemitism is becoming increasingly normalised and Jewish students are becoming increasingly marginalised on University campuses.