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Jewish faculty critique Oxford University’s response to pro-Palestine protests in open letter

An open letter from Jewish faculty members addressed to Oxford University and the Vice-Chancellor, Irene Tracey, was published on Monday 27th May in response to the most recent University statement on Oxford Action for Palestine’s (OA4P) protests. The letter disputes the University’s statement that the pro-Palestine encampment has established “an intimidating environment” for Jewish staff and students. 

The letter accuses the University of failing to engage in conversation with members of the Jewish community who support the encampments and protests. It describes how Jewish academics, who “reached out to you [the University] recently to propose a conversation” were “ignored”.

Twelve prominent Oxford academics from a range of departments and varying political stances signed the letter. It said they were all: “deeply disturbed by the rising tide of rhetoric conflating criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza with antisemitism, and by the use of this rhetoric to justify government interference in higher education and repression of student protest.”

The letter rejects the University’s portrayal of the recent Jewish experience at the University, and said: “We therefore object to the University’s reductive and misleading claims to speak on our behalf. The characterisation of Jews as a uniform mass with a single viewpoint is itself a common and insidious antisemitic trope.”

Oxford’s Jewish Students for Justice (JSJ) also released a statement addressed to Vice-Chancellor Irene Tracey. JSJ stated they: “Call for the University of Oxford to explore alternative analyses of antisemitism which offer a more nuanced approach and connect the fight against antisemitism with the fight against all other forms of hate.”

The open letter from faculty members called on the University to learn from “students who have been urging the University to reckon with its complicity in the catastrophe unfolding.” It also refers to other institutions, including the University of Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin, who, according to the letter, have engaged in “meaningful, good-faith dialogue with protesting students.”

Cherwell have contacted the University of Oxford for comment. 

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