The Co-Chair of OUSU’s Campaign for Racial Awareness & Equality (CRAE) was criticised by JSoc for an anti-Semitic tweet posted last week.

This summer, political debate has often centred on anti-Semitism in the British left. Debate has been exacerbated following concerns about Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn’s connections to Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, and other alleged anti-Semites. Jewish groups have also been warning of an increasing atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the UK and across Europe as a whole. Oxford itself has seen some of the left accused of tolerating anti-Jewish sentiment, particularly on the Facebook group “Skin Deep”, which is seen by many as the go-to place to discuss race-based issues for many students. 

Earlier this week, VERSA was alerted to an allegedly anti-Semitic tweet by the Co-Chair of OUSU’s CRAE and Corpus Christi JCR BME officer, Kiran Benipal. The tweet, seen in full below, was a response to a joke – which was not penned by Benipal and has since been deleted. 

kbtweet

The orignial Tweet, due to Twitter’s layout we didn’t have the full quoted Tweet

Benipal gave VERSA a screenshot of the full quoted Tweet

Benipal gave VERSA a screenshot of the full quoted Tweet

 

Upon becoming aware of the tweet, a representative of JSoc (Oxford’s Jewish Society) issued the following statement:

“Oxford JSoc condemns this blatant anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms. At a time of rising anti-Semitism in the UK, it is shocking that a so-called Equality Officer in our own student union and in her college JCR would deem it acceptable to trivialise such discrimination in a public forum. We hope for a public apology and call on the relevant bodies to reassess her ability to represent students in light of these views.”

VERSA was also pointed to the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)’s formal definition of anti-Semitism, which includes the following passage: Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”

Benipal, along with co-chair Hetal Jani, is set to lead CRAE in Michaelmas 2015. According to OUSU’s website, part of CRAE’s role is to facilitate training and workshops regarding “equality and sensitivity”, and “diversity and difference”.

When contacted by VERSA, Benipal apologised for the tweet: I apologise unreservedly for this tweet. Belittling anti-Semitism is never acceptable, so I profoundly regret what I wrote in the heat of an argument. I was replying to another tweet, which I attach here. I was rejecting the common racist claim that Muslims are uniquely intolerant of offensive comments.  It was inappropriate to instrumentalise the threat that anti-Semitism poses to the lives of Jewish people in order to make my point. This I fully accept and deeply apologise for,

She elaborated “I fully accept that it is neither helpful nor acceptable to try to address the liberation of one group by cementing the oppression of another. My tweet was flippant, thoughtless and inappropriate. This is a time of rising anti-Semitism in the UK, and anti-Semitism should never be trivialised or ignored. My tweet was intended to address pervasive Islamophobia, not to trivialise anti-Semitism. I am sorry that in attempting the former, I also became guilty of the latter.”

Much of the controversy surrounding anti-Semitism in Oxford had been centred on race issue discussion group Skin Deep, where commenters have at times been accused of blurring the lines between Israeli and Jewish identities. An administrator, Barnaby Raine, was appointed to look out for anti-Jewish sentiment. When contacted for comment, Raine said:

“Most students at Oxford abhor anti-Semitism and will be disturbed by these comments. I find them patently offensive. I hope Kiran Benipal apologises properly. If she fails to do so, JSoc are right that her position has to be questioned. 

Unfortunately these comments point to a deeper problem of mistrust between the student Left and some Jewish students, rooted in strong disagreements about Israel. As a Jewish student and a proud supporter of the Palestinian people, I hope we can resolve that mutual mistrust in the future. We should all be clear that Zionism and Jewishness are distinct, and opposition to the former need never imply hostility to the latter.”

Ali Lennon, OUSU VP for Welfare & Equal Opportunities gave a comment in a personal capacity when contacted,

“The tweet by the Co-Chair of the Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality, Kiran Benipal, concerning Jewish people was wholly inappropriate and should not have been made. Kiran has been given guidance on this matter and I am very glad that she has retracted the tweet and provided an unequivocal apology. If any students feel affected by this issue I would encourage them to get in touch with the Student Advice Service who will be able to assist them http://ousu.org/advice/student-advice-service/.”

VERSA hopes this apology will encourage more co-operation across liberation groups in fighting anti-Semitism in Oxford.

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This article has 72 comments

  1. This is all well and good, but what about Kiran’s condemnation of mixed race relationships on the same Twitter account? Surely incompatible with an equalities portfolio…

  2. She also claims that certain people ‘deserve all the racism they get’

    https://twitter.com/ccchampagnemami/status/627991374449803264

    Problematic, no?

  3. “race traitors” as well, what is this

  4. So, a confessed segregationist thinks she can tell everyone what is and isn’t racist, and force an institution to call itself racist over a poster? This is beyond a joke!

  5. Given that she only apologised a very long time after this Tweet was written, one can only surmise that she’s not so much sorry for her remarks as much as she is sorry she got caught.

    She’s also stated that Jews benefit from white supremacy, so there’s that; and more to the point she refused to engage and understand why that is historically offensive.

  6. Kiran Benipal, self declared champion of ‘anti-racism’.

    Blames victims of racism unless they do as she tells them: https://twitter.com/ccchampagnemami/status/627991762875883520

    Admits she would attack a white woman for being white and disagreeing with her: https://twitter.com/ccchampagnemami/status/627984107516100608

    Oh wait- racism is ‘prejudice plus power’ when you identify as powerless :/

  7. The Zionists!!!!1!

    Impressive that Barnaby managed to use a case of clear antisemitism, with no ‘legitimate criticism of Israel’ excuse, to crow bar in in his dislike of Israel

  8. I bet the ZIONISTS are behind this article!

  9. I approve of this message.

  10. Oxford Union Standing Committee TT15

    Will CRAE be declared “institutionally anti-Semitic” then? Will Ms. Benipal presumably have to go on sensitivity training to avoid reproducing these oppressive power structures?

    • Benipal, Teriba et al

      Just do what we did and whip up a mob (complete with lots of overlapping, far-left front societies) to force the next meeting of CRAE to declare the institution anti-Semitic. We can even come up with new, esoteric definitions that strain credulity to get the statement on the public record. After all, getting it on the public record matters more than whether the statement is true; are we wrong?

      • If by mob you mean a room full of black people.
        If by lots of far left societies you mean ACS and Afrisoc which are cultural societies (which made up the bulk of said mob)… then you’re as racist as the union.

        Benipal and Teriba didn’t even front line the discussion but I guess you don’t know the names of any other brown people huh? Or maybe their names are too difficult to spell? Or maybe just maybe you weren’t there and revel in your misinformed details and general ignorance.

  11. Ms. Benipal is still a moderator of Oxford Women Self Care (a group with a questionable history of responding to allegations of anti-Semitism including one moderator who thinks they can define Jews’ racial identity on their behalf) and the Freshers group. Hardly much of an introduction for marginalised Jewish women that someone with a pivotal role in the self care group holds such disparaging views on Jewish self-identity.

  12. I think it’s also pretty relevant she tweets about cutting crackers. She doesn’t even try to hide how much she hates white people

  13. I am the only person outside stormfront to use the term ‘race traitors’

  14. The leader of the anti-racists is a racist! Christ, my three year old niece is funnier than that, and she just makes jokes about poo!

  15. Someone really should explain to me that you can’t make a comment in a personal capacity on professional issues

  16. How on earth can someone who is openly against miscegenation – “our bloodlines are being colonised can we not” – occupy a position in the name of Racial Awareness & Equality?

  17. that oxford is crawling with bigots who come out of the woodwork to air their reactionary views in the versa comments section should come as no surprise. but someone who claims to be an anti-racist belittling anti-semitism? what the fuck man. also re the miscegenation tweet, i don’t know if kiran will have the decency to apologise for this, but it stinks of heteronormativity and bullshit theories about ‘racial purity’. how the fuck are we supposed to let someone like this run ‘racial sensitivity workshops’ (CRAE’s own words)??

  18. I’m far too busy trying to argue that white people doing yoga is racist to deal with this shit

  19. BREAKING NEWS: Jeremy Corbyn invites Kiran Benipal for a coffee at Heroes.

  20. If I was her, I’d threaten to resign.

  21. they don't care at all

    ppl on OWSC since this was published saying
    “If VERSA’s coming for you it’s just confirmation that you’re doing something right”

    “Versa is so so vile, how can such disgusting thing exist! I’m so sorry you have to go through all that. You do not deserve any of that.”

    “There was context. Fuck versa!! And your ousu peep said it was ok so even more fuck versa!!”

    they really do not give a shit about jewish people at all

    • Please have some empathy.

      All comments made before the article was even published actually, and without having seen the article… There are also comments saying she did the right thing to apologize. Do not just use the info which is most convenient for you; Kiran is well aware she has made a mistake or would have refused to comment. Can’t anyone here just be a bit more human? It takes bravery to face up to mistakes and others would run away from them. Just a thought.

      • Imagine if someone in CRAE had made anti-Black or anti-Asian remarks that were called out by members of those communities as racist and unacceptable.

        Would the individual in question be allowed to just waltz back in into a leading role as an anti-racist campaigner without having to face serious consequences and penalties?

        Face it- you want Kiran off the hook because you basically agree with her that Jews aren’t a real minority.

        • Please have some empathy.

          Not at all. I just think we should acknowledge the fact she realizes her mistake, is all, as we would with anyone. And we don’t know about no consequences or penalties for now anyway, do we?

          • Sick of the Far Left

            Does she realise her mistake, or is she sorry she got caught? Her continued vitriolic rhetoric suggests she really doesn’t care at all, and attempts to deflect things to anti-Muslim bigotry don’t look very good when you’re being called out

          • She realised her mistakes and didn’t try to excuse her anti-Semitism, sure. However, she did make those remarks and leave them up for ages without considering them to be problematic which doesn’t say much for how the modern Oxford left relates to Jews and anti-Semitism.

          • “I just think we should acknowledge the fact she realizes her mistake”

            a shame then that since this article she’s been giving sorry-im-not-sorry excuses, isnt it? how can someone this toxic not resign?

      • they don't care at all

        that’s not true. try empathy for jewish women. i’m not going to copy and paste the whole thread, obviously.

      • they don't care at all

        literally *just* posted btw

        “It’s been said by everyone else, but fuck Versa so much!! Their reason for existing is to tear people down, you’re amazing and you know you’re doing something right when you’ve pissed them off.”

        something right.

        i appreciate that she’s apologized and that’s brave but people’s reactions to this, and the double standards they apply are much more offensive to me than what she said originally.

  22. We should do a No Heterox and expel the Zios from our ranks. Start with the Jewish sounding surnames; they got away with it last time…

  23. LOLling at all the comments.This article proves what she tweeted as correct. Deep down you all know she’s right. #TeamBenipal

  24. Further Benipal highlights

    Part 1

  25. Kiran Benipal is a great BME rep, only she understands the true root of all our problems.

  26. That’s better than your prelims.

  27. Fuck up so hard JSoc wanna fire me, that shit CRAE

  28. My Zionist paymasters are most pleased with this article!

  29. The sun on the ISIS is summery warm
    In OUSU there’s no scrutiny,
    When Michaelmas comes we’ll take every post
    Tomorrow belongs to me

    The “Zios” will claim that we’re being unfair
    But we will force them too to flee
    No safe space they’ll find among hard left ranks
    No Het’rox belongs to me

    But soon, says a whisper, “it’s worse than that”
    “You can’t endorse blood purity”
    I may be in CRAE but I still define
    What “accountable” means to me,

    OUSU, oh OUSU don’t make me resign
    There’s so much more I can give thee
    I will decide who is wrong, who’s white,
    When Oxford belongs to me!

    • Bravo, my friend

    • Racism that’s my thing
      Trying to eradicate it
      Although I must admit
      Them Jews they drive me bat shit
      Maybe I’m going deaf
      Maybe I’m going blind
      Maybe I’m outta my miiiiiiind
      Bloooooood lines
      Gotta keep our race pure
      Mixed kids – traitors for sure
      It’s a problem that we must cure
      Blooooood lines
      This is so traumatic
      Can you not with the clapping?
      So problematic

  30. David 'Stalin' Klemperer

    She should be purged! I’ll have a word with the compliance unit…

  31. so about this mixed race thing

    in a thread on open oxford Kiran said
    “I will never, ever date a white man and I’m not sorry”

    try taking that together with her “our bloodlines are being colonised” tweet…

  32. My apology – “I’m so sorry for the hurt I’ve caused due to being so misunderstood, because you see (irrelevant context)” – doesn’t quite mean what it says on the tin.

    It actually means “it’s a shame you are all too stupid and ignorant to understand my meaning, but for once it is my job to educate you, because I have an institutional pedestal to preserve and a CV to think about. How else will I hector the uninterested in years to come? Check your privilege, whiteboy/heeby/cracker bitch”.

  33. Hey guys, remember when this happened?

    http://versanews.co.uk/2015/06/04/oxford-union-to-issue-third-apology-over-cocktail-cock-up/

    Remember when people said “if there’d been a cocktail called the Auschwitz with a picture of a little Jewish boy in a concentration camp what would you say to that”?

    Turns out CRAE’s answer would be “excellent chat, you can keep your job.”

  34. Just fucking predictable

    If someone told you that the far-left member leader of a racial equality campaign at a university was actually a vicious racist, which race would you predict it was?

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