A student group at King’s College London (KCL), which is one of some 300 societies and activity groups the nonprofit King’s College London Students’ Union recognizes, has accused the campus wing of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) of promoting white supremacy.
In a since-removed Instagram post, Liberate KCL called the nonprofit media monitor “a white-supremacist Zionist organization which spreads misinformation that Israel is not an apartheid state, despite this being well documented by major NGOs such as Amnesty International.” (Other Instagram posts of Liberate KCL’s that remain live include those calling Israel “apartheid.”)
Liberate KCL’s now-removed posts stated nothing about Israel or the Palestinians and offered no insight nor solidarity, David Hirsh, CEO and academic director of the nonprofit London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, told JNS before the post was removed.
“They don’t defend a point of view about the conflict or an argument about what it means,” he said. “There is only a designation that Israel is ‘apartheid’ and ‘white supremacist,’ by which is meant ‘unambiguously evil,’ and then it follows that the evil should be expunged from campus.”
Hirsh, who is also a senior sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, added that the overwhelming majority of Jews consider some sort of positive relationship with Israel a part of their identity.
“Zionism is not racist,” he said. “It is a movement against antisemitism. It is not apartheid. It is a movement against genocide.”
Those who designate Zionism as evil pass the same judgment on those who support Israel. “This is why this kind of agitation is antisemitic,” said Hirsh. “Most Jews will correctly recognize that this agitation targets them. It targets their Jewish societies and their Union of Jewish Students, and it erases their ability to organize politically or even socially.”
In the now-deleted post, the group announced plans to hold a demonstration outside a March 7 event on the university’s central London campus in which CAMERA on Campus UK and several student societies hosted a Q&A between Conservative MP (member of Parliament) Stephen Crabb and Labour MP Stephen McCabe. The politicians chair their respective parties’ Friends of Israel groups.
King’s College London, the King’s College London Students’ Union and Liberate KCL did not respond to phone and email queries from JNS.
Liberate KCL describes itself as “a collective of students who work actively to dismantle the corporate university, as well as the racist, imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal and cisheteronormative systems it reflects and reproduces.”
‘So out of touch with political reality’
Saul Levene, a third-year KCL student and former CAMERA on Campus fellow, told JNS it is ridiculous that protests are centering on two members of Parliament who believe in a two-state solution and represent majority British political opinions on Israel.
“Any conversation that doesn’t immediately label Israel ‘apartheid’ and evil is immediately shut down,” he said. “This attitude is so out of touch with political reality.”
“It’s shameful that British students would feel comfortable describing Zionism and any educational material about the Jewish State of Israel as ‘white supremacist propaganda,’” Aviva Rosenschein, campus director for CAMERA UK, told JNS on Wednesday.
“It goes to show the widespread ignorance among even the top universities on the history of persecution against the Jewish people as an ethnic minority population,” she said. “This type of rampant antisemitic rhetoric must be condemned.”
This incident follows a series of major controversies about the way Jewish students are treated at British universities.
The Community Security Trust, a charity that protests British Jewish communities, found a 22% increase in university-related antisemitic incidents from September 2020 to August 2022.
In January, an independent report on antisemitism at the National Union of Students concluded that the body, affiliated with more than 90% of student unions in the United Kingdom, presented a “hostile environment” for Jews. The organization has since faced criticism for publishing a “vague” plan to tackle antisemitism within its ranks.