J-Soc condemns decision to clear OULC members of anti-semitism

Two members of Oxford University Labour Club will face no action despite reports of “cultural problem” towards Jewish students

Oxford Jewish Society (J-Soc) has reacted angrily to reports that the Labour Party will not take disciplinary action against two members of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) accused of anti-Semitism.

According to reports, the disputes panel of the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), voted on Tuesday to clear the two student members under investigation for alleged anti-Semitic behaviour.

The pair were apparently given informal warnings for bullying, but were absolved of showing prejudice against Jews.

This follows an eleven-month investigation into reports of anti-Semitism within OULC, which featured in a report by Baroness Royall last May.

The report controversially withheld a full investigation conducted by Labour Students into anti-Semitism among OULC members. Some claim the evidence found in the report was so damning that the party leadership sought to “block” its publication.

While the published report found no evidence of “institutional anti-Semitism” in OULC, it did find evidence of “cultural discrimination” by members of the club.

The inquiry was triggered last February after OULC’s Co-Chair, Alex Chalmers, resigned in protest at members who he claimed had “some sort of problem with Jews” and sympathised with terrorist groups such as Hamas.

Following this week’s NEC ruling, Chalmers told Cherwell: “Baroness Royall’s Inquiry into OULC concluded that the weight of evidence of anti-Semitism meant that the party’s disciplinary procedures should be invoked.

“This latest move by the party leadership is disappointing but unsurprising considering its track record on this subject.”

The ruling was described as “utterly shameful” by Oxford J-Soc, who said in a statement: “This decision is bitterly disappointing and will only continue the trend of Labour spaces becoming increasingly frightening and alienating for Jewish students.

“It is hard to believe that following Baroness Royall finding that the incidents in the OULC took place, that the NEC decided to drop the case.

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“At every stage of this process the Labour Party has sought to help the perpetrators of anti-Semitic abuse and to deny justice for its victims.”

“This decision should not be seen in isolation, but rather as part of the wider story, in which the concerns of Oxford’s Jewish students have been repeatedly ignored.

“Despite this setback, we will continue to fight for justice for Jewish students who have been the victims of anti-Semitism, and work to ensure that Jewish students can feel comfortable being involved with the OULC.”

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS), which represents 8,500 Jewish students across the UK, described the decision as a “discrace”, saying the Labour Party “have created an atmosphere in which antisemitism may thrive without fear of being challenged”.

They described the alleged anti-Semitic incidents as “part of a culture which the University of Oxford, Oxford University Students’ Union (OUSU), and now the Labour Party, have failed to grasp.”

OUSU released a statement last week expressing their “commitment to tackling anti-Semitism”. Oxford University has previously stated that anti-Semitic behaviour is “considered grounds for severe disciplinary action.”

OULC told Cherwell: “Labour party procedures have not given us any insight into these specific cases, and we are unaware of any named individuals.

“In this context we cannot fairly comment on the actions of the Party—though we note that Baroness Royall, who initially conducted the investigation, is disappointed with the NEC’s ruling.

“We are working hard with Oxford J-Soc to make sure that everyone feels comfortable in OULC and condemn antisemitism unreservedly.”

A spokeswoman for the Labour Party declined to comment on an internal NEC decision.