After the resignation of Alex Chalmers—the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC)—over the decision to endorse Israeli Apartheid Week, Ed Miliband has decided to pull out of a talk with the club. Miliband said he was “deeply disturbed” by the allegations of anti-Semitism within the OULC.
Miliband was a former member of OULC and was due to talk on 4th March 2016, but has decided to postpone the event until investigations into the allegations have been carried out.
Mr Miliband’s office in a statement said: “It is right that the executive of the club has roundly condemned the comments and fully co-operates with the Labour Students’ investigation.
“Ed and the Labour Club have agreed that his talk should be postponed until the investigation is resolved.”
Universities minister, Jo Johnson tweeted that he was “concerned by reports of vile antisemitism on campus” and declared that Oxford University “needs to undertake urgent investigation.”
According to The Telegraph a senior source at OULC has alleged that the hard left group, Momentum, are partly to blame for the rise in anti-semitism at the university.
David Cesar Haymann, former co-chair of the Labour club, in a Facebook status said: “I arrived at OULC in 2013, when there was a welcoming atmosphere, with execs focused on hosting good speakers and campaigning to bring about a Labour government. Since 2015, and particularly after the election, there has been a concerted effort from the Oxford hard left to take over the club.
“Many of these people have little connection to the Labour Party or its values, and have brought with them the worst of Marxist tactics, approaching OULC with a ‘you’re either with us or against us’ attitude. The hard left has brought about a culture where vicious personal attacks are routine, and that has included revolting anti-Semitic incidents, such as the ones reported on by Jsoc.”
A source quoted by The Telegraph referenced hard left groups such as Momentum and said that “These people are associated with the hard left groups, they are Marxists and have taken over the club and promoted a vicious culture […] They advance a Marxist tradition, which is quite authoritarian and intolerant of any dissent.”
A spokesman for Momentum has responded to these allegations and said: “Momentum opposes racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of oppression. Allegations that Momentum is involved in anti-Semitism at Oxford University or anywhere else are baseless and we have received no claims about any individuals or groups associated with Momentum.”
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, called for the party to sever ties with the club, stating that he has “written to the Labour party asking for an investigation as a matter of urgency. It is hugely embarrassing for the Labour party. This is something Jeremy Corbyn should personally look into.”
Oxford University are yet to comment on whether they have decided to investigate the claims themselves, but have said that all students are encouraged to report any harassment they suffer to university authorities.
Labour students have launched their own investigation with which OULC have said that they will fully co-operate with.
Over 30 former and current chairs and executive members of OULC and other supporters have signed a letter which condemns the decision by the club to endorse Israeli Apartheid Week. The letter says the week propagates a “one-sided narrative, seeking to dismantle the only majority-Jewish member state of the United Nations”.
The letter also states that, “we are troubled by OULC’s decision and feel compelled to speak out. In a climate of rising antisemitism, we have a duty to oppose initiatives that foster an intolerant political culture which intimidates Jewish students.”