More Than One-Third of Essex University Students Vote Against Creation of Jewish Society

February 21, 2019
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

More than 1/3 of students at the University of Essex voted against the establishment of a Jewish society on campus on Feb. 20.

Under campus rules, registered students vote in an online poll to decide if a proposed society should become official on campus. While 64 percent of students who voted supported the creation of the Jewish society, 36 percent (more than 200 students) did not.

Among those advocated against the society’s creation was Dr. Maaruf Ali, a computers and electronics lecturer, who said in a since-deleted Facebook comment that “the Zionists want to create a society here at our university” in response to a post about Israeli planning on expelling “36,000 Palestinians from the Negev.”

Other reported social media posts from Ali, which have also been deleted, include the sharing of a photo claiming that the “Zionist Mafia” censored any media coverage of 50,000 Jews protesting Israel in New York and a Holocaust denialist quote from Edgar Steele, an attorney who represented the Aryan Nations white supremacist group.

“In all of German-occupied Europe, there resided 2.4 million jews [sic] before the war, according to World Jewish Encyclopedia,” the quote stated. “After the war, 3.8 million jewish [sic] ‘Holocaust Survivors’ were receiving pensions from the German government. Tragically, the remaining 6 million were lost.”

The U.K. Union of Jewish Students said in a statement on Twitter that they were “shook” by the vote and alleged that the Amnesty International chapter on campus advocated against the creation of the society:

Maryam Jamil, the Amnesty chapter president, referred the Journal to the UK Amnesty International for comment; they did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

The Essex Students’ Union told the Algemeiner that an “irregularity” in the vote rendered it “null and void” because they couldn’t guarantee that “the vote has been free and fair.” The vote will re-open on Friday and go on for three school days.

The university said in a statement:

MP Stella Creasy tweeted, “If the actual leadership at @Uni_of_Essex cant bring itself to use word Jewish and say it will act to protect students from being demeaned for their religion, how can we expect it to teach students to do so either?”

Other societies that exist on the Essex campus include a Christian society, an Islamic society, K-Pop and Pokemon Go.

The Jewish society proposal states that they aim to “create a warm and welcoming atmosphere” to all Jewish students on campus. Sixty such societies exist on UK college campuses.

UPDATE: Kerry Moscogiuri, UK Amnesty International’s communications director of support campaign and communications, said in a statement sent to the Journal, “The comments made by a member of the University of Essex Amnesty group on the proposed manifesto for the new Jewish Society at Essex University do not reflect the view of the Essex University Amnesty Society and Amnesty International UK. Whilst they were well intentioned, their view to conflate Israel Independence Day with the human rights committed by the Israeli authorities is wrong.”

Moscogiuri added that “there is definitely a need for” a Jewish society to be established on the University of Essex campus.

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