Charges of Antisemitism, Resignation Stain Oxford Labour Club

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The Oxford University student Labour Club, affiliated with the country’s larger Labour party, has come under scrutiny for antisemitic comments by its members.

The students called Jewish students “Zios,” referred to the Auschwitz concentration camp as “a cash cow,” sang a violent song about rockets being fired into Tel Aviv, and expressed agreement with 2014 attacks on Paris synagogues and the 2015 shooting of four Jewish people in a supermarket in the same city, reports RT.

The group was investigated by its national leadership, but the results were never published and no disciplinary action was taken, leading to students speaking directly to the Sunday Times about the issue.

The antisemitism was brought to light when Oxford co-chairman Alex Chalmers resigned last month, saying that:

“… the attitudes of certain members of the club toward certain disadvantaged groups was becoming poisonous.”

On Facebook, Chalmers said:

Whether it be members of the executive throwing around the term “Zio” with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their “solidarity” with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former co-chair claiming that “most accusations of anti-Semitism are just the Zionists crying wolf,” a large portion of both [the Oxford University Labour Club] and the student[s] left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.

“Zio” is an offensive term for Jewish people, which is usually only used by Ku Klux Klan members and their supporters, according to the Jerusalem Post.

In response to these allegations, an investigation was launched by the Labour Students organization, which stated that it doesn’t support antisemitic sentiments. However, the investigation ended over a week ago and still no action has been taken, according to Jewish Business News. Instead, some information appeared in a publication about Labour Students and was mixed in with a story on the Labour Youth elections in Scarborough. Jewish students at Oxford are criticizing the Labour party, charging that it amounts to a “cover up.”

Two Momentum activists, 25-yea- old Max Shanly and 22-year-old James Elliot, are assumed to be the subject of the investigation, but both have denied it.

Former Labour chief Ed Miliband stated that he wouldn’t speak at Oxford until the investigation was complete. MPs Michael Dugher and Rachel Reeves, who both held shadow cabinet roles under Miliband, spoke out, asking for the report to be immediately published, writes Camilla Turner of the Telegraph.

Jonathan Arkush, an Oxford alumnus and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made a statement expressing his disappointment at the antisemitism occurring at his old university.

London experienced a drastic increase in antisemitic incidents during 2015, with reported incidents up by 60% from the year before. 483 antisemitic crimes were reported between November 15th of 2014 and the same date in 2015, compared to 299 in the previous 12-month period.

The issue has led to accusations that officials, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbin, are not taking the problem of antisemitism seriously enough.