"The goal is achieved! No more Jews at German universities," the leading Nazi student newspaper, Die Bewegung, triumphantly proclaimed in 1938.
Of course, nothing like it could ever happen again. Except something like it is happening again — now, and in Britain. According to a report published this week by David Collier, a British researcher, some UK universities are now virtually Judenfrei: free of Jews.
This is a chilling indictment not just of British academia but of a liberal democratic society that has tolerated, often through ignorance or complacency, a wave of discrimination against Jews that has swept through the universities over recent decades. From these halls of learning antisemitism has spread out, driving and empowering what is now a solid movement that threatens Jews in various parts of society and has led to many of them leaving. This is not just in Britain. Collier characterises academia as "the epicentre of global antisemitism".
This Jew-hate is cloaked in anti-Zionism, a doctrine that claims the Jewish state, alone among the nations, has no right to exist. It seeks to whip up anti-Israel hatred by focusing on three core lies: accusations of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism.
As Jewish students and professors were hounded out and eventually banned from universities and high schools by German state edict, today in Britain anti-Zionist academics and the students they influence have created an environment that alienates many Jews, by using the pretext of their support for the Jewish state. Of course, not every Jewish student supports Israel and very few are uncritical, as with their own country. Nevertheless, Collier says:
"Jewish people today on campus can be tolerated, protected or abused. At no point are they treated as equals. The best they can hope for is protection and tolerance in a hostile environment. On the campus the prevailing wisdom is that their beliefs in Jewish identity are fundamentally wrong."
Specifically, Jews are grotesquely branded as members of a race that has no place in the land of Israel, but is a "white" colonialist occupier and oppressor of the indigenous peoples.
Collier asks: "Why would an openly Jewish student want to go to a university where they will be vilified by other students and victimised by lecturers?" The reality in Britain today is that many Jewish students choose their university not by the course content or the quality of teaching, but by the extent of antisemitism they will find there. Baroness Ruth Deech, formerly Britain's Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, and an accomplished academic and former principal of an Oxford college, previously commented that "amongst Jewish students there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid."
You can meet many Jewish students in Britain and in several other Western countries who attest to this, who will tell you of some universities that are relatively safe for them and others that need to be sidestepped.
I speak frequently at universities on a range of subjects. Only when speaking at the invitation of Jewish or pro-Israel groups have I experienced any hostility as opposed to open debate. In virtually every case, some form of physical protest as well as social media abuse is guaranteed — not to disagree but to silence. This has taken place in the UK, US, South Africa and Australia, where one talk was so severely disrupted that it led to an in-depth investigation by the university authorities with rare disciplinary action taken against the perpetrators that included academic staff.
Collier's research shows that: "If they [Jewish students] are abused, it is far less serious than an offence against someone from the Muslim, BAME or LGBTQ communities.If an academic is responsible for the abuse (see Bristol, Leeds, Warwick) it is the academic who will be protected and the complaining Jewish student who will be victimised – even if the student can prove abuse."
Britain cannot be compared to Germany in the 1930s, but similarities exist in some of the objectives and methods of the Nazi bully-boys at German universities in that era. Before Jews were finally excluded, members of the National Socialist Students' League often disrupted lectures, provoked altercations and intimidated Jewish students. All of this can be seen in British university campuses today.
Responding to a violent protest by students at King's College London protesting a visiting Israeli speaker, Lord Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues, said in Parliament: "If we need to know who the new fascists are, we need only look at those who perpetrated that attack." As Robert Festenstein of the UK's Jewish Human Rights Watch, who have been working for years to combat antisemitism in British universities, told this author: "Jews are being educationally ethnically cleansed from certain universities in the UK”.