David Baddiel and Howard Jacobson to join launch of antisemitism centre

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David Baddiel and Howard Jacobson to join launch of antisemitism centre

Other speakers at the inaugural event of the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism will include Rachel Riley, Tracy Ann Oberman and Anthony Julius

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

David Baddiel ((C) Wall to Wall Media Ltd - Photographer: Laurence Turnbull)
David Baddiel ((C) Wall to Wall Media Ltd - Photographer: Laurence Turnbull)

A groundbreaking new project, the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, is being launched next weekend with a three day intensive conference.

The brainchild of academic David Hirsh and a team of collaborators, the London Centre says its mission is “to challenge the intellectual underpinnings of antisemitism in public life and to confront the hostile environment for Jews in universities”.

The organisers say that the centre’s launch is in direct response or antisemitism “leaking into academic thought and liberal cultural life”. The answer, they believe, “is to define, debate, deconstruct and defeat this hostile environment”.

The three-day event kicks off with a glittering number of performers and thinkers, including Howard Jacobson, Karin Stögner, Anthony Julius, David Baddiel, Tracy Anne Oberman, Luciana Berger, Rachel Riley, Philip Spencer, Matt Bolton, Marlon Solomon, Ray Gelato, Terri Shaltiel and Sam Eastmond and many more. It is media partnered by Jewish News.

Rachel Riley at the Holocaust Educational Trust Lord Merlyn-Rees event on 22 January 2019

On the following two days there is a planned academic conference, involving scholars from all over the world sharing their specific knowledge on this subject. The intention is that London should become the international hub for the work, rather than merely a provincial endeavour.

Mark Gardner, chief executive of the Community Security Trust, said: “David Hirsh has long been a leading scholar and opponent of antisemitism, not just in Britain, but globally. Our community should strongly welcome this initiative of the new London Centre and wish it every future success for the future.”

Anthony Julius, who has written extensively on antisemitism and was Deborah Lipstadt’s lawyer in the case she won against Holocaust denier David Irving, said: “The Anglo-Jewish community already owes a great debt to David Hirsh for his fearless defence of the freedom of Jews to study and teach. With the establishing of the London Centre, our debt has grown much larger.”

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, told Jewish News: “The mission statement of the London Centre ‘To challenge the intellectual underpinnings of antisemitism in public life and to confront the hostile environment for Jews in universities’ —strikes at the heart of a key issue our community faces: an academic culture where antisemitism is either ignored or worse, defended”.

She said that she hoped the community would turn out in large numbers for the launch of the Centre, adding: “The work that this centre does will support us all; we should make sure to reciprocate with support of our own.”

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