Cambridge University history department promotes ‘weaponisation of antisemitism’ panel

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Cambridge University history department promotes ‘weaponisation of antisemitism’ panel

EXCLUSIVE: Departmental bulletin at top university includes details of zoom event

Pic: jewish-solidarity-with-palestinians-antizionism-activism-and-liberation-for-all ticket via Eventbrite
Pic: jewish-solidarity-with-palestinians-antizionism-activism-and-liberation-for-all ticket via Eventbrite

A panel debating the ‘weaponisation’ of antisemitism is being promoted by Cambridge University history department and features a Jewish member of the university’s English faculty.

Details of Wednesday evening’s event, billed as ‘Jewish Solidarity with Palestinians: Antizionism, Activism and Liberation for All’, were shared with Jewish News by a concerned Jewish student who received the information through the history faculty at the university.

Taking place at 7pm, the panel debate, advertised in a bulletin sent to history students, is being held ‘In honour of the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’, with speakers including anti-Israel campaigner Barnaby Raine (Columbia University), Emily Hilton (Naamod co-founder), Julia Bard (Jewish Socialists’ Group), Haim Bresheeth-Zabner (Jewish Network for Palestine and SOAS) and Hana/Chana Morgenstern (Cambridge University).

Dr. Morgenstern is an associate professor in postcolonial and Middle Eastern literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College. She told Jewish News: “The event was organised by and for progressive Jewish students and faculty. We understand it doesn’t represent the views of all Jewish people, but we hope it will provide progressive Jews with perspective and support in this difficult time.”

Professor Mary Laven, chair of the faculty of history at Cambridge University, told Jewish News: “To clarify: the event that you refer to is not being run by the history faculty. A wide range of events, internal and external, are advertised in the faculty’s weekly bulletin. Inclusion in the bulletin does not indicate endorsement.”

She added: “More broadly, the University of Cambridge is fully committed to the principle, and to the promotion, of freedom of speech and expression. In exercising their right to freedom of expression, the University expects its staff, students and visitors to act within the law. We do not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism. While debate and discussion may be robust and challenging, all speakers have a right to be heard when exercising their right to free speech within the law.”

Screenshot: Eventbrite

A spokesperson for Cambridge University’s office of external affairs and communications, told Jewish News he had “nothing to add to the statement you’ve already received from Mary” and referred concerned students and those affected by current events to a support page.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to Jewish News, a Jewish student said: “Since the Hamas pogrom on 7 October, Jews at Cambridge University have seen a much more hostile atmosphere on campus, which has enabled a surge in antisemitism. And those Jews who have had the courage to speak out against antisemitism have been intimated and demonised. It’s in this context that events like these, which provide a platform to people who are blatantly hostile to Jewish students, actively makes things worse.

“Whilst the importance of freedom of speech and discussion is paramount, this is a particularly sensitive time for Jews. The university at the least should be considering how they can support Jewish students at a time of great worry and concern, rather than hosting speakers who push the lie about the “weaponisation of antisemitism”. Platforming speakers who hold the views of those who have recently been kicked out the Labour Party for antisemitism is absolutely disgraceful.”

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