Baroness Royall’s report into antisemitism released

Baroness Jan Royall’s report, which was leaked today, claims individual members of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) “did engage in anti-Semitic acts”.

However, Baroness Royall also wrote that she does not, “believe that there is institutional antisemitism within OULC”, rather, “difficulties”, which face the OULC.

Allegations of antisemitism in the OULC came to light in February 2016, when Co-Chair Alex Chalmers resigned stating that due to the various incidents of antisemitism he had witnessed he could “no longer in good conscience defend club policy”.

Among other events, Chalmers said senior members of the OULC expressed support for Hamas and defended its murder of Israeli civilians. He also claimed a former Co-Chair had said “most accusations of antisemitism are just the Zionists crying wolf”.

The Baroness reported that these incidents of antisemitism created an atmosphere where “some Jewish members do not feel comfortable attending the meetings, let alone participating”.

According to the report:

“Antisemitism manifests itself frequently, and simply, as a failure to allow Jews to engage on a level playing field. No pre-conditions are placed on women debating sexism. It is not a prerequisite that Muslims condemn the atrocities of this or that government before they may enter debate on foreign policy.Many students reported that should a Jewish student preface a remark “as a Jew…” they are likely to face ridicule and behaviour that would not be acceptable for someone saying “as a woman…” or “as an Afro-Caribbean…”. This behaviour is also reported within the wider community.”

The report listed eleven recommendations to fight antisemitism in both the OULC and the Labour Party in general.

It recommends the following for the OULC:

  • Greater continuity of leadership;
  • That the Executive of the club should ensure a safe culture which allows all students to participate;
  • Training in cooperation with the Jewish Labour Movement in combating antisemitism; and
  • Ensuring a clear line of reporting for anti-Semitic incidents.

The report also suggests documented incidents of antisemitism by Labour Party members of the OULC should be investigated in line with the normal procedures of the Labour Party.

The OULC case is a reminder that antisemitism at the UK’s universities remains a problem, and that many Jewish students feel increasingly marginalised, something Student Rights has long argued.

It is important lessons are now learned about how to create an inclusive environment and root out bigotry, not only at Oxford University and the OULC, but at all institutions and student societies.

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