Let me level with you. I voted for the Green Party in the last election. I was pleased when Jeremy Corbyn became the Labour party leader. I believe strongly in the upholding of civil liberties, free speech and equal opportunities. In other words, I would absolutely consider myself to be left wing: a full out champagne socialist.
However, since joining Oxford, I have been feeling less comfortable with associating myself with the notorious “Oxford Left”, known for their tendency to no-platform people they disagree with, instead of engaging with them in proper debate. The assumption that everyone has the same belief, just because they have decided that their beliefs are the most aligned with morality is naive radicalism.
All of this I can deal with however. I can just shrug and say, “well every movement has a few strong characters!” But, this most recent development involving the resignation of Alex Chalmers after the Oxford University Labour Club decided to endorse Israel Apartheid honestly has me sick to my stomach.
I would like to make it clear that this article is not about picking a side on the Israel vs Palestine debate. If this is what you would like to read about, there is a lot of material available from both sides of the story – both sides have committed crimes and the fact that they are not at peace is a true tragedy.
OULC’s decision to endorse something so objectively anti-Israel sends an extremely hostile message to Jewish people, regardless of whether or not we are active Zionists, because of the implication that it is the Jews, not just the Israeli army and government, that are wrong. Calling us “Zios” is unspeakably offensive, and erases years and years of progress. Telling us that is okay for you to be discriminatory against us because of our “white privilege” is also misguided.
During the Holocaust, in which between 5 and 6 million – who cares about the actual numbers, we’re just a bunch of zios anyway – Jews were killed, for the crime of being Jewish, less than 80 years ago. White privilege did not do jack-shit for us back then.
When 12 year old me mentioned to a 19 year old man that I was Jewish, and he responded by telling me a joke about the gas chambers, I wasn’t really thinking “oh but this is okay, I have white privilege.” When a man spat at 8 year old me’s feet as I walked out of my dirty zio school, I wasn’t thinking “Yay, white privilege.”
I feel the need to hide my religion, to pretend it isn’t important to me. Someone finds out I am Jewish, they say “oh really? I didn’t know”, and there is a part of me that is relieved. “You don’t look Jewish, you don’t have a big nose.” To look Jewish is to look ugly.
And what do they call this hatred and discrimination against an entire race of people? Anti-semitism.
I take massive issue with this word because it seems to justify racism (and yes, Judaism is arguably a race as well as a religion due to its antiquity, its range of sects and the fact that we are spread finely across the Earth and yet still share so much culturally). Being an anti-semite is like saying “I’m not racist, I only hate the Jews” and that, to me, is a ridiculous statement.