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Solidarity with Jewish students – it’s time for deeds, as well as words

Labour Students, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Union of Jewish Students are coming together on Monday at Oxford University Labour Club to launch the start of a series of training sessions on tackling anti-Semitism in Labour Clubs and on campus.

With sessions planned at Bangor, Stirling, Leeds, Sheffield, Durham, KCL, Bristol and many more, we hope this will bring the positive changes the student movement urgently needs.

It’s taken over a year for the students at Oxford University Labour Club to receive a response from the Labour Party and for a decision to be made on the cases of anti-Semitism – a year in which Jewish students have had to consistently fight to define their own oppression. With further reports of National Action stickers reappearing on campuses across the country, now more than ever, our solidarity with Jewish students needs to be reflected not only through words, but through deeds.

At Labour Students National Council in December, I was moved to tears on stage by a motion brought forward by a Jewish student from Bristol University. The words ‘I didn’t ever think I would be standing up here today having to defend my right to be here’ are words that shouldn’t ever have to be said. Anti-Semitic language, epithets or tropes will never be tolerated in our movement.

We have made progress on changing the culture in our movement by ensuring all our events are Shabbat friendly and cater to the needs of Jewish students. I hope we continue this to show all Labour Jews, religious and secular, are welcome in Labour Students. These training sessions go a step further in demonstrating that.

The sessions will be based around identifying & tackling anti-Semitism and understanding and engaging Jewish students. They will cover anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, definitions of antisemitism and their application to varied areas of campus life and the Labour movement. Fostering debate and activism in a welcoming atmosphere for Jewish students, they will offer practical steps to ensure Labour clubs are a safe space for Jewish students as well as signposting key agencies and support available to students.

If your Labour Club hasn’t signed up to a session and would like to, please email kate_dearden@labour.org.uk.

We will continue to work with the Jewish Labour Movement and the Union of Jewish Students to ensure that Jewish students on every campus feel comfortable being involved in their Labour Clubs. I’m proud to lead this organisation as we redouble our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, and even prouder of the pragmatic approach we are now taking to ensure these changes become reality.

 

Kate Dearden is the National Chair of Labour Students

@kate_dearden

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