The Bigots of St. Peter’s College, Oxford Try to Ban Ken Loach from Speaking – All in the Name of ‘anti-Semitism’ of course!
The Bigots of St. Peter’s College, Oxford Try to Ban Ken Loach from Speaking – All in the Name of ‘anti-Semitism’ of course!
The Bigots of St. Peter’s College, Oxford Try to Ban Ken Loach from Speaking – All in the Name of ‘anti-Semitism’ of course!
The Real Concern of Oxford Students is that Loach has Fought All His Life Against the Privilege and Wealth that these Parasites Represent
One of the most basic and fundamental principles of any free and democratic society is a commitment to freedom of speech. Nowhere should that principle be held in higher regard than in universities and institutions of higher education.
You might have thought that Oxford University, the cradle of our future ruling class, would at the very least have tried to instill into their rich and pampered undergraduates a basic understanding of the ideas of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.
I was recently sent an article in Oxford Student by a friend who has spent a lifetime fighting fascism. Like me he was disgusted at the way these young toffs have cynically exploited the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a device for attacking Ken Loach, a man who throughout his life has been known for his support for marginalised groups in society like the homeless and poor.
Loach is also well known for his opposition to colonialism and imperialism – be it in Ireland, Palestine or Nicaragua. And it is this that has aroused the ire of Oxford’s finest scoundrels.
What would the reactionary fops of Oxford’s colleges know of Cathy Come Home the November 1966 BBC play which Loach directed about homelessness? A play which made homelessness into a national issue and which led on one month later to the founding of Shelter the housing charity. A British Film Industry poll in 2000 rated Cathy Come Home as the second best British television programme ever made.
Why should it matter to these brats? What would Oxford’s students and members of its notorious Bullingdon Club know about homelessness? Mummy and daddy are hardly likely to let their precocious offspring suffer the indignities of sleeping on the streets.
The family wealth of many Oxford students originated from the British Empire and its attendant evils such as slavery. The colleges that they are educated in were nourished by the blood of the Middle Passage. That they should take umbrage at someone like Loach is perfectly understandable. That they should trade on the memory of Jews who died in the holocaust in order to given expression to their class snobbery and contempt for ordinary people is an indication of their depravity.
What the McCarthyite chorus of Zionists and other right-wing detritus objected to was an evening event in which the Master of St. Peter’s College, Professor Judith Buchanan, interviewed Loach, an alumnus of the college, on his film career.
It must be a source of annoyance to the entitled of Oxford University that Loach stands for everything that they hold in contempt. The working class and poor, to say nothing of the oppressed in Britain’s former colonies such as Palestine and South Africa, mean nothing to them. However these same students are apparently extremely agitated by the evils ‘anti-Semitism’ even if it does mean supporting Israel, the only apartheid state in the world.
Even more upsetting must be the fact that Loach’s glittering achievements are something that these strident representatives of Britain’s future ruling class can only aspire to.
But according to Samuel Benjamin, the President of the Jewish (for which read Zionist) Society of Oxford (because no Jewish socialist worth their salt would join these bigots), the event came at the “expense of the welfare of Jewish students in Oxford.”
I know that Benjamin is British but nonetheless he seems to have a remarkably poor grasp of the English language. How can a discussion between Loach and a senior Oxford academic have any impact on the welfare of Oxford’s Zionist snowflakes? Do they quake in their boots at the thought that Loach’s ideas may make them question everything they’ve been brought up with? Such as the preposterous notion that Apartheid Israel is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’
Are we to seriously believe that a filmed interview with an 84 year old film director has had a debilitating effect on the welfare of Jewish students? How? Are Jewish students at Oxford University such timid and sensitive creatures that they wilt at the very thought of someone whose opinions they disagree with being interviewed on campus?
The President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl described what was happening as being “entirely unacceptable”. That an Oxford college “would not conduct its due diligence and allow Ken Loach to address students” rendered her apoplectic. The sheer arrogance of Zyl’s statement is breathtaking. Since when do academic and cultural events need the approval of the narrow minds of the Board of Deputies, which throughout its history has opposed Jewish mobilisations against racism and fascism?
During the war the record of the Board was shameful. It actually opposed and sabotaged efforts at rescuing Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied Europe. It backed to the hilt the ardently pro-Zionist Labour Home Secretary Herbert Morrison in his adamant refusal to admit Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied Europe. [see Excuses! Excuses!: The Failure to Amend Britain’s Immigration Policy, 1942–1943, Lesley Clare Urbach, European Judaism, Vol. 50, No. 2 2017].
In the wake of the Allied Declaration of 17 December 1942 that the Nazis had embarked on exterminating Europe’s Jews, Dr Rabbi Schonfeld, Chairman of the Chief Rabbi’s Rescue Committee, formed a parliamentary group to lobby in support of the admission of Jewish refugees. The President of the Board, Selig Brodetsky, did his best to undermine Schonfeld’s efforts. Schonfeld described the
‘persistent attempt on the part of Brodetsky and some of his colleagues to sabotage the entire move… he and his collaborators asked members of the House to desist from supporting the new effort. .. To do nothing themselves and to prevent others from doing so is strange statesmanship.’
The results were predictable: ‘More than one M.P. has expressed a feeling of becoming wearied of trying to help the victims in the face of such sectarian Jewish opposition.’ [Jewish Chronicle 29.1.43] This was despite public opinion running 80% in favour of admitting Jewish refugees.
Perdition – the real reason for the campaign against Ken Loach
What really irks the Zionists is the fact that in 1987 Ken Loach directed a play, Perdition, by socialist playwright Jim Allen that was based on a libel trial in Israel. Rudolf Kasztner, the leader of Zionism in Hungary, sued a Malchiel Greenwald, who accused him of collaboration with the Nazis. The trial, between 1954 and 1958 didn’t go according to plan. Kasztner was found, in the words of Judge Benjamin Halevi, to have ‘sold his soul to Satan.’ When accused of testifying at Nuremburg in favour of Himmler’s emissary in Hungary, SS Col. Becher Kasztner lied and was caught out.
Perdition was based on Perfidy, a book by a Zionist American playwright Ben Hecht. When Kasztner came to Israel allegations began to be circulated that he had collaborated with Adolf Eichmann in the deportation to Auschwitz of 437,000 Hungarian Jews.
What made the Hungarian holocaust so tragic was that it occurred in the last year of the war when Germany was reeling from the Russian advance in the East and was about to face the landing at Normandy. The Hungarian Jewish community was the last major Jewish community left in Europe and without the agreement between Kasztner and the Nazis. But for the collaboration of the Hungarian Judenrat and Kasztner’s ‘Rescue Committee’ far fewer Hungarian Jews would have died.
Kasztner reached an agreement with Eichmann. In return for the safe exit from Hungary of a train containing 1,684 people, the Jewish leadership of Hungary, most of whom were Zionists, Kasztner would cooperate and even help pacify the Jews who were to be deported, assuring them that they were starting a new life.
The allegations against Kasztner were made by Hungarian survivors of Auschwitz, people who had been tricked into getting on the trains but who had survived. There is no doubt that Kasztner was a collaborator. A recent book by the arch Zionist Paul Bogdanor, Kasztner’s Crime even alleges that Kasztner was a Gestapo agent.
The trial, which the Zionists don’t even mention today and which they have done their best to forget, led to the fall of the government of Moshe Sharrett in 1955. Benjamin Halevi upheld 3 of the 4 accusations of collaboration made against Kasztner. In 1958 Israel’s Supreme Court cleared him by 4-1. However they did this on legal and political grounds whilst upholding the findings of the lower court. By this time Kasztner had been assassinated.
It was later revealed that Kasztner had not only testified in favour of Kurt Becher, whose job it was to extort money out of rich Jews but he also testified at Nuremburg in support of Herman Krumey who had been Eichmann’s second in command, in charge of the mechanics of deportation.
Massive pressure was exerted against the Royal Court Upstairs, which was going to show the play, to cancel it. Max Stafford-Clarke, the Artistic Director, succumbed to the pressure. Ken Loach and Stafford-Clarke were never on speaking terms again.
The Zionists waged a massive campaign to have the play banned and they succeeded in keeping it off the stage by threatening venues that they would lose their patronage and funding if they put it on. Unfortunately for the Zionist lobby, instead of a few thousand people seeing the play millions of people became aware of the issues.
As Zionist historian David Cesarani later said it was an own goal.
Was it worth all the fuss?… Had the play gone on it would have been seen by around 2,000 people…. We need to master the art of exposing and debunking, instead of instantly branding antagonists as anti-Semites… JC 3.7.17.
It’s a lesson that the Israeli funded Union of Jewish Students haven’t yet learnt. Trying to no platform your opponents on behalf of the Israeli state is not the best way to win an argument. It makes people suspicious that you are trying to silence alternative voices.
Even the Jewish Chronicle, which has been at the forefront of the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against the Labour Party, has recognised that the campaign to ban Ken Loach has been counter-productive. In a leading article No Silencing last week they stated:
The Board of Deputies, with all the prejudices of the Jewish petit bourgeois, are nothing if not stupid. They don’t have any perception as to how their actions might appear to others. For years they have been arguing that the IHRA misdefinition of ‘anti-Semitism’ is not about banning speakers or threatening freedom of speech and then all of a sudden the Zionists try to ban Britain’s most distinguished film maker, Ken Loach, on the grounds that he is a holocaust denier.
Even that byword for dishonesty, the self-serving boor John Mann, the newly appointed Anti-Semitism Czar (could there be a more appropriate title?!!) felt it necessary to pen an article The IHRA definition should not be used to ban free speech – and that includes Ken Loach. What Oxford’s Zionists are doing is proving that everything we said about the IHRA is true and that its main purpose is to stifle free speech. The Oxford Zionists and the Board have proved that the IHRA has got nothing to do with fighting anti-Semitism and everything to do with suppressing the supporters of the Palestinians.
The Dishonesty of Oxford’s Zionist Students
The Oxford Student in its coverage simply assumes that Ken Loach is anti-Semitic because the Zionist students says he is. I don’t know if any of these students have ever studied law, but one of the first things I was taught was that the British justice system rested on a presumption of innocence. Innocent until proven guilty. Ken Loach is entitled to be considered innocent of the charge of anti-Semitism until his detractors prove otherwise.
But such ideas are alien to Zionists. After all they support a society, Israel, where if you are a Palestinian you are assumed to be guilty. Dissidents are subject to administrative detention without trial on the say so of a bureaucrat or military official.
The Zionist Jewish Society at St Peters complained that being they were being asked to substantiate their allegations that Ken Loach was anti-Semitic. They complained that this “put the burden of proving Loach’s antisemitism onto Jewish Peterites.” Well yes it did! Or are they saying we should adopt the Israeli system that they love so much whereby you are guilty by virtue of being Arab?
These juvenile McCarthyites complained that St Peters had not taken ‘any concrete steps to minimise the hurt that his invitation would inevitably cause.” They explained that a
‘free and open academic community’ is mutually exclusive with the platforming of individuals whose bigoted views cause active harm to others on account of their protected characteristics.”
In other words the defenders of Apartheid Israel should get to decide who they could censor.
I sent a letter to Oxford Student responding to their article. Now you would have thought that if the editors of the student paper had any confidence in the views they were printing then they would welcome debate. Sadly no. Just as Oxford’s Zionist students hate the idea that they have to prove that Ken Loach is anti-Semitic so the Oxford Student prefers not to have to justify their slanted coverage. Born of a sense of entitlement, they consider the fact that they call someone anti-Semitic should be sufficient proof in itself.
Clearly the editors of Oxford Student are in training for jobs on the Tory tabloids or Telegraph (or these days the Guardian) because I never heard a word back. Clearly those who run the rag believe that journalism and propaganda are just two sides of the same coin. The article quoted an unnamed Zionist that
“Ken Loach is a political artist with anti-Semitic viewpoints, and his association with holocaust denial is particularly harmful and inexcusable”.
Now what does he mean by association mean? A weasel word that reflects that old McCarthyite principle, Guilt by Association. This is what the paper of Oxford’s racist students stands for.
As Ed Murrow, the famous CBS broadcaster said at the height of McCarthyism in 1954:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason…
But what is the truth about the allegations that Loach is anti-Semitic? Loach has made his views extremely clear. For anyone to suggest that he has even a scintilla of sympathy for holocaust deniers, most of whom wouldn’t even exist but for the way that Zionism has weaponised the holocaust, demonstrates the fundamental dishonesty that lies at the heart of Zionism and their dessicated supporters. On 5th October 2017, in a letter to the Guardian Loach made his position extremely clear. Responding to a typically dishonest article from MI5’s man at the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland, Loach wrote:
That is pretty clear. Yet this quotation didn’t appear once in the Oxford Student or the other student paper Cherwell. My suggestion is to write and let the Editor of Oxford Student know what you feel about his racist rag at email@example.com.
This spurious controversy was sparked by an interview with Loach in respect of a fringe meeting at the 2017 Labour Party conference which the interviewer falsely alleged that there had been a discussion about the holocaust and whether it had happened. This is a complete lie. I was there. I spoke. No such remarks were made. One of the speakers, an Israeli Jew Miko Peled said everything should be discussed including the holocaust ‘yes or no’. That was it. A standard free speech defence.
In the interview Loach said that
“History is for all of us to discuss. All history is our common heritage to discuss and analyse. The founding of the State of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing, is there for us to discuss… So don’t try to subvert that by false stories of antisemitism.”
The late Raul Hilberg, the greatest of the holocaust historians, said that we should listen even to holocaust deniers because they may point out flaws in our own thinking. The Zionists didn’t like Hilberg too! Perhaps he was also a holocaust denier?
Given Loach’s clear statements how then can St Peters JCR, the Oxford Student, the Board et al. still maintain that he has an ‘association with Holocaust denial’ whatever that means? And more to the point why do they do they lie as a matter of course?
The reason is simple. In their efforts to defend Zionism and the Israeli state, the supporters of Zionism have no option but to lie. It is their only means of defending a state that gives vaccines to Jewish citizens whilst denying it to Palestinians. In other words, far from opposing racism Oxford Student and the various Oxford JCR’s are active collaborators in supporting Israeli apartheid.
The President of the Zionist society issued a statement writing that ‘Loach has made remarks that are antisemitic under the definition, which was recently adopted by the University of Oxford.” This is the crux of the matter. Ken Loach has offended against the IHRA.
The fact that the allegations against Ken Loach were false has not stopped other Oxford’s Junior Common Rooms (a legacy from public school) passing motions condemning St Peters for not banning Loach. When I was a student we were vigilant to ensure that the administration didn’t ban meetings with which they disagreed. These privileged prats are to the right of their college administrations.
Today’s Oxford students are reminiscent of their European counterparts pre-1939. The phenomenon of right-wing nationalist students was common to both Germany and Poland. In Poland there were ghetto benches for Jewish students. Whilst not suggesting that these are about to make an appearance at Oxford the clear racism and contempt for freedom of speech of Oxford Students is ominous.
There were a number of articles in Oxford’s other student newspaper Cherwell. Apparently Wadham College had a meeting on 9th February to decide whether or not to condemn St. Peters College and its master Professor Judith Buchanan for not no platforming Ken Loach. When I was a student we no platformed fascists not anti-fascists!
When I was once invited to speak to the University of Sussex AGM in support of no platform for fascists – who opposed it? The Union of Jewish Students on the ground that since we called them racists we might ban them! So we have a situation where the Union of Jewish Students opposes no platform for genuine holocaust deniers but for supporters of the Palestinians they operate a policy of No Platform!
Loach’s major crime according to Cherwell is that he claimed that a rise in antisemitism in Europe following Israel’s operation in Gaza was “perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism“. Well it is understandable. Israel carries out its massacres in the name of all Jews worldwide and some people believe them and then attack Jews. That is what the Zionist Community Security Trust said in its 2014 Incidents Report which found that:
The single biggest contributing factor to the record number of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2014 was antisemitic reactions in the UK to the conflict in Israel and Gaza
Speaking the truth is also apparently anti-Semitic! The attack on Loach has produced an immediate response from groups such as Artists for Palestine. In a short statement Artists stand with Ken Loach and against McCarthyism figures such as Brian Eno, Roger Waters and Caryl Churchill wrote that:
“We are deeply troubled to learn of a McCarthyite campaign demanding Oxford University cancel a public event with director Ken Loach discussing his distinguished career in film. The campaign to silence a world-renowned artist, which has been active behind the scenes and which became public at the last minute, is using the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism to try to prevent a cultural event from taking place. If any further evidence were needed to demonstrate how a vaguely worded definition is being deployed to silence critics of Israeli policy towards Palestinians — then this is it. We have been warned by respected Palestinian academics, Israeli scholars, leading experts on antisemitism, dozens of progressive Jewish groups, and others that this definition is being used as a political weapon. We cannot fight racism, including antisemitism, by demonising and silencing supporters of Palestinian rights.”
The IHRA definition is not a definition of anti-Semitism. As Sir Stephen Sedley, a Jewish former Court of Appeal judge said, it is open ended. The IHRA is 500+ words. What kind of definition is that? Oxford’s racist students should club together and buy a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary where anti-Semitism is defined in just 6 words: ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’
Shorn of philosophical and political refinements, anti-Semitism is hostility towards Jews as Jews. Where it manifests itself in discriminatory acts or inflammatory speech it is generally illegal, lying beyond the bounds of freedom of speech and of action. By contrast, criticism (and equally defence) of Israel or of Zionism is not only generally lawful: it is affirmatively protected by law. Endeavours to conflate the two by characterising everything other than anodyne criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic are not new. What is new is the adoption by the UK government (and the Labour Party) of a definition of anti-Semitism which endorses the conflation
The IHRA consists of a meaningless 38 word definition that leaves more questions than answers.
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The IHRA has more holes than a second hand dartboard. If anti-Semitism is a ‘certain perception’ of Jews then what is that perception? If it ‘may be expressed as hatred towards Jews’ what else may it be expressed as? Why the inclusion of non-Jews in a definition of anti-Semitism at all and why is there mention of Jewish community institutions?
Contrary to popular misconception, the 11 attached illustrations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are not part of the definition. 7 of them concern Israel. The most notorious is the 7th illustration:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
So if you accuse Israel of racism for only arresting and torturing Palestinian children then you are anti-Semitic! If you accuse Israel of racism for reserving 93% of its land for Jews, then it is you who is a racist! What this means is that Israel’s crimes are to be visited on the heads of all Jews, ie that all Jews are responsible for Israel’s crimes.
Ironically the final illustration says that ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’ is anti-Semitic. So according to the 11th illustration the 7th illustration is anti-Semitic! The IHRA is not only an attempt to paint Palestine solidarity as anti-Semitic but it is ridden with internal contradictions.
The IHRA definition has been around, in one guise or another, since 2005. The definition has been slated by academics and jurists such as Brian Klug, David Feldman, Antony Lerman, Hugh Tomlinson QC, Geoffrey Bindman QC, and Geoffrey Robertson QC. Even the original drafter of the IHRA, Kenneth S. Stern doesn’t have a good word to say for it. In the Guardian he wrote that the IHRA:
‘ was never intended to be a campus hate speech code, but that’s what Donald Trump’s executive order accomplished this week. This order is an attack on academic freedom and free speech, and will harm not only pro-Palestinian advocates, but also Jewish students and faculty, and the academy itself.’
In his testimony to the US Congress Stern spoke of how
‘The definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus. In fact, at a conference in 2010 about the impact of the definition, I highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do.’
Professor David Feldman, an arch Zionist, described the IHRA as ‘bewilderingly imprecise’. Geoffrey Robertson QC said that it was ‘not fit for purpose’. But when it comes to the cream of Oxford’s racist students, the IHRA fits the bill.
Perhaps the last word should be with Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Affairs at St Anthony’s college, Oxford (where I have previously spoken!) and an exiled Israeli. Shlaim stated that Loach is “completely innocent” and that “the attack on him is an attack on freedom of expression which has no place in an academic institution”.
Oxford students in their disregard for academic freedom are worthy successors to the Nazi students who in May 1933 demonstrated their loyalty to the regime by burning books. Oxford students have metaphorically tried to burn Ken Loach. They should recall what Heinrich Hein said. Those who burn books will end up burning people.
Oxford’s Real Racism
What is most striking about the concerns of Oxford students is their hypocrisy. If they were really motivated by opposition to racism then the statue of Cecil Rhodes, a white supremacist and imperialist, standing outside Oriel College, should surely be of more concern? Rhodes’ statue is a living symbol of White Supremacy. It is a permanent reminder to Oxford’s Black students of their place in society. Rhodes was of the belief that:
“I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimen of human being,
Apart from slaughtering thousands of Africans in Mashonaland as part of the colonisation of what became Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) Rhodes was responsible for the enactment of the Glen Grey Act 1884.
Through the adoption of the Act, Rhodes managed to gradually persuade Parliament to abandon Britain’s priceless nineteenth-century ideal that in principle all persons, irrespective of colour, were equal before the law.
The act raised the property qualification for voting thus excluding most Africans from the franchise. However if you read the account of Rhodes life on the Oriel College website, then you read a quite different account:
Rhodes was a pragmatic politician. His treatment of educated or powerful Africans, whose support he needed, could be cordial, and he financed a newspaper for a largely black readership.’
There is no mention of apartheid in this apologia for White Supremacy. If Oxford students were seriously concerned about racism then they would campaign night and day to remove Rhodes’ statue.
The reason they do nothing is that their concerns have nothing to do with opposition to racism, anti-Semitism included. By supporting the weaponisation of anti-Semitism via the IHRA what they are really doing is declaring their support for Zionism and a Jewish Supremacist state. In this they are little different from the National Front and BNP who used to assert that anti-fascism was anti-White racism.
What the Oxford Student doesn’t mention is that the IHRA is supported by anti-Semitic governments such as in Poland and Hungary. Its biggest supporter was Donald Trump, who combined Zionism and anti-Semitism in equal measure.
The students of Oxford who rushed to ‘defend’ Oxford’s Zionist snowflakes were not doing so because they opposed anti-Semitism but because they believe that Zionist settlers in Palestine have an entitlement to displace the indigenous Palestinians. When they support the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism they are supporting a ‘Jewish’ State which openly declares that Israel is a state of the Jewish people, not a state of its own citizens.
Oxford students have however proved indifferent when it comes to anti-Semites and members of the far-Right appearing at the Oxford Union. When Tommy Robinson came to speak the 250 demonstrators outside included very few students and I suspect no Zionist students. After all Tommy Robinson is an avowed supporter of Zionism and the State of Israel!
There was one thing however that Oxford’s Zionists did get right, albeit unwittingly, when they said that:
And it is true. Ken Loach’s political impact has been enormous. And that is what the Zionists and Oxford’s reactionary students really despise.
Below is the pathetic motion passed at the St Peters College JCR. As you can see it is entirely based on the IHRA. It continually asserts that Ken Loach is anti-Semitic without once attempting to prove it, other than by reference to the IHRA. A circular argument if ever there was one.
The JCR notes that:
1. Ken Loach has a history of blatant antisemitism. Per the IHRA definition of antisemitism, Loach has repeatedly made comments which:
a. Allude to ‘…the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions’
b. ‘Accus[e] the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.’
c. ‘…[claim] that the State of Israel is a racist endeavour’
d. ‘[draw] comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’
2. The leadership of St Peter’s College, when meeting Jewish students concerned about the impact of the platforming of someone with such abhorrent views:
a. Claimed to be unaware of Loach’s past comments, despite their being widely reported in the media and widely accessible online
b. Sought to downplay the prospect of Loach’s invitation being actively harmful to the college community, suggesting that the event featuring him would ‘set aside’ the controversy
c. Asked Jewish Peterites not to view College as a place hostile to Jewish students since this would result in more discomfort
d. Pushed Jewish Peterites to explain why downplaying the Holocaust is ‘always’ unequivocally antisemitic
e. Put the burden of proving Loach’s antisemitism onto Jewish Peterites when this is a matter of record, not opinion
f. Suggested that St Peter’s did not have a problem with antisemitism on account of the previous Master being Jewish g. Refused to disinvite Loach lest a PR fallout occur
h. Refused to commit to taking any concrete steps to minimise the hurt that his invitation would inevitably cause.
3. The leadership of St Peter’s College issued a statement on social media on Monday afternoon which:
a. Failed to apologise for the entirely avoidable distress caused to Jewish students by its mishandling of this issue
b. Sought to excuse Loach’s antisemitism by pointing out that he had been invited to College many times before
c. Failed to outline any steps which could be taken to avoid similar situations occurring in the future
4. Scores of British Jewish organisations have condemned St Peter’s College for its invitation of Ken Loach, its failure to engage with Jewish students and its refusal to apologise, including but not limited to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Union of Jewish Students and Oxford University JSoc
5. St Peter’s College, unlike many other colleges, failed to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year.
This JCR believes that:
l. St Peter’s College failed in its duty of care to Jewish students in inviting a known apologist for antisemitism without prior student consultation.
2. The College’s failure to apologise for its insensitive and ignorant handling of Jewish students’ concerns caused even more harm to Jewish students who were left feeling antagonised and unwelcome
3. The Master’s and College’s statements to students and the public added fuel to the fire
4. It is impossible to separate Ken Loach’s filmmaking from his views, including his offensive history of antisemitic remarks
5. St Peter’s College has failed to live by its commitment to ‘stand against all forms of discrimination’
6. A ‘free and open academic community’ is mutually exclusive with the platforming of individuals whose bigoted views cause active harm to others on account of their protected characteristics.
1. Urges all students to boycott this event so as not to lend credence and authority to the views of a noted antisemite, and to prevent their further dissemination
2. Condemns in the strongest terms the College leadership’s decision to go ahead with this event, disregarding the concerns and welfare of Jewish students in favour of preventing a ‘PR disaster’
3. Deplores in the strongest terms the College’s and Master’s inconsiderate and insensitive response to such concerns, noting that such a response caused even greater suffering
4. Offers its most sincere apologies on behalf of the College to all Jewish students, whether Peterites or not, and to anyone whom the College leadership’s ineptitude has caused distress and pain
5. Pledges its active support to all Jewish students who have been let down by St Peter’s and by the University, and
6. Stands in solidarity with Jewish students at St Peter’s and in Oxford in the face of endemic antisemitism more broadly.