The Academic Friends of Israel

Vol.10 No3                                                                       23 April 2011


‘Antisemitism on Campus: A New Look at Legal Interventions’


A recently published essay ‘Antisemitism on Campus: A New Look at Legal Interventions’ by Lesley Klaff discusses the problem of Antisemitism on campus in Britain, arguing that as British universities have become key conduits in the global assault on Israel's legitimacy the most effective "fight- back" strategy now requires legal intervention.

Anti-Zionist expression, she states, constitutes "campus hate speech" because it violates both the Equality and Diversity policies and the Anti-Harassment policies of the UK Universities with respect to Jewish students, who routinely report feelings of isolation, humiliation, distress, lowered self-esteem, low self-worth, offence, fear, intimidation, and a hostile environment following an on-campus anti-Zionist event. These feelings and perceptions are rea­sonable given the prevailing use of classic and contemporary anti-Semitic tropes in current anti-Zionist iconography, and given the identity of the on- campus anti-Zionist speakers.

Klaff suggests that one solution to the problem is to proactively advise all university vice-chancellors that legal action under section 26 of the Equality Act 2010, as well as a claim at common law for breach of duty of care, will be taken against the university on the next occasion that anti-Zionist expression is permitted on campus, and that legal action by students will be taken where that advice is not heeded.

Unlike a set of voluntary guidelines, legal intervention is powerful enough to change the very culture of the campus by requiring that anti-Zionist expres­sion be positively prohibited, on pain of imposition of sanctions and stigma. Legal intervention can also go beyond the limited range of guidelines, which tend to focus on preventing invitations to radical Islamist speakers, and address the entire range of anti-Zionist expression on campus, including the erection of "apartheid" walls, the staging of pro-Palestinian student occupations, and the twinning of British universities with institutions like the Islamic University of Gaza, which was used as a military site by Hamas during Operation Cast Lead.

As Melanie Phillips recently said, when the scale of the delegitimisation phenomenon is nothing short of a multi-layered civilian crisis, Diaspora Jews need to stop playing defence and go on the offensive.


To read the full essay:  Lesley Klaff ‘Antisemitism on Campus: A New Look at Legal Interventions’, The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, vol. 2 issue 2 2011, pages 303- 322 



The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks

Advisory Board: 

Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Vivian Wineman - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Amir Lev

John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East

Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham

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