Campus club resignation exposes worrying development among British university students
As a South African who grew up in the apartheid era, and who signed up as a youth delegate for the anti apartheid Progressive Party while a student, I find the now politically correct campaign to condemn Israel as an apartheid state particularly obnoxious, not to say ridiculous.
The issue has been highlighted by the resignation of Oxford University Labour Club co-chairman Alex Chalmers in the wake of the club’s vote to endorse this week’s global Israeli Apartheid Week seeking to bolster the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against all things Israeli.
Chalmers has cited strongly anti-Semitic tendencies among members including support for Hamas (the terrorist group controlling the Palestinian enclave of Gaza). Of course Oxford students should know better as they are perceived as the intellectual elite. But the Bible reminds us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1.7)
True, a security wall has been built to keep potential suicide bombers from launching their murderous raids from the disputed territories, which even outspoken Palestinian Christy Anastas says was necessary “because it has stopped my people from blowing themselves up”. And it has worked!
But this can hardly be compared with the separate development policy of Afrikaner-led South Africa, which restricted black citizens to certain areas and denied them political and other rights including access to ‘whites-only’ jobs. The minority Arab citizens in Israel have the same rights as their fellow Jewish citizens, which was never the case for blacks in my country between 1948 and the early 1990s.
In Israel, Arabs are even represented in the Knesset (Parliament) and I have personally met a Muslim Arab Israeli diplomat. In South Africa, blacks had no vote, their pay was much lower than that of white people doing the same job, and access to education was limited. How can an apartheid state have Jews and Arabs working together in government and side by side in hospitals?
There are 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel – that’s 20% of the population. And yet PA leader Mahmoud Abbas will not allow any Jews to live in his proposed state of ‘Palestine’. So who’s practicing apartheid? Worse still, the new Hamas textbooks in Gaza teach that “all of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan belongs to us – to us Muslims.”1 So no room for Jews anywhere in the region then!
What an irony, too, that the present South African government chooses to condemn Israel as an apartheid state when it was the Jewish community among the ruling white population who were at the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement there. Frankly, it’s all about anti-Semitism and the delegitimisation of Israel, ignited by gross ignorance, prejudice and skewed intelligence.
Robert Hardman, in a major Daily Mail article2 on the Oxford debacle, points out that “Israel is one of the only places in the Middle East where these oh-so-righteous custodians of the moral high ground could live without discrimination or worse…”
It seems to be a case of the extreme left siding with the extreme right as they explicitly back fundamental Islam’s aim to get rid of Israel.
Calling on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his party to decide where their true loyalties lie, Hardman concludes that “there can no longer by any doubt than an ugly, insidious and deeply disturbing new strain of anti-Semitism is taking root among the far-Left in Britain’s universities.”
Alex Chalmers’ allegations are seriously worrying for the future when you consider that what is said to be Britain’s biggest student Labour club has produced plenty of Cabinet ministers in its time.
This anti-Semitic protest from Oxford students comes hot on the heels of their campaign to topple the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the former mining magnate and Cape Colony Prime Minister who donated a fortune to the university, but who is now accused of racism.
A statue of Rhodes at the University of Cape Town, a beautiful landmark on the slopes of Table Mountain, has already come to grief courtesy of student outrage. And the university was built on land donated by Rhodes! I am all the more appalled at such shameless vandalism because, as a Rhodes Scholar, my South African grandfather won the inestimable privilege of studying at Oxford thanks to the great man’s legacy.
It’s worth pointing out that apartheid in South Africa finally collapsed when the structure upon which it was built – a false understanding of the Scriptures – fell apart. This happened when leading Afrikaner clerics confessed that they had been wrong and subsequently presided over the demise of an ungodly principle. In fact the Church as a whole played a leading role in ensuring a relatively peaceful transition from white minority to black majority rule. And in matters of politics in other parts of the world, we still need this kind of wisdom, which can only come from God.
I’ll let America’s legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King have the last word. In a letter to a friend who claimed to be ‘merely anti-Zionist’, not a Jew-hater, he thundered: “Let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews…
“Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind… And what is anti-Zionism? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa…”3
1Peace in Jerusalem by Charles Gardner, olivepresspublisher.com – also a source for other material used in this article
2Daily Mail, February 20 2016
3This I believe: selections from the writings of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, New York, 1971, pp 234-235. Thanks also to Saltshakers, the website of author Steve Maltz