I have been following and in fact writing about how antisemitism is on the rise at universities around the world.
In the last few days it has come home to me personally – albeit it – 30 years after the fact (I am safe and sound in Israel).
Leeds Hillel House was my amazing home for two years at university – as a first year student and then as warden of the house in my last year. I had an entirely carefree time there and as a kippa wearing Jew I felt entirely safe in and around the house. It truly was my home. It was the most formative years of my development as a person and as a Jew which I will always treasure.
Today, I saw pictures of the graffiti attack on the house and more than that, the death threats (as reported by the TOI) against the university’s Jewish Chaplain (and organization I was treasurer of for a number of years) supposedly because he returned to Israel for reserve duty. There was not one death threat but hundreds according to the Daily Mail article and the police had to resort to take him and his family into hiding.
This should be absolutely unacceptable in 2024, but the fact it has happened is sadly not surprising, which underlines the rise of antisemitism in recent times.
This was not an attack against an Israeli institution, it was attack on a Jewish student building and a Rabbi and it is clearly antisemitic in nature.
This sort of antisemitism is also taking place across other universities – for example Birmingham where this photo was taken recently. (I can’t bring myself to show the pictures from Leeds).
Although I live in Israel – my heart is still very much in Leeds – and I feel tremendously for the students of today’s generation. I am not one of the people who seeks to exaggerate the level of hatred abroad but the police, government and university officials need to intervene to protect the basic rights of students. Moreover, the groups leading these attacks should be criminally prosecuted for what they have done and threatened to do, and those who led the protests should be taken to task for inciting this hatred.
I hope the students and Rabbi stay safe going forwards and that the community continues to stand up for its right to defend and support the State of Israel – the Jewish state. I am aware of how hard the fight is outside of Israel and salute the community’s bravery.