I have come to the sorry conclusion that British universities are no longer safe places for Jews - Bill Carmichael

On Monday of this week I had just finished a day’s teaching and was about to head home. Since last summer my place of work is The Wave, the University of Sheffield’s brand new Faculty of Social Sciences building, up near Weston Park Hospital, which is about a 35 minute walk to the railway station.

Monday also marked a ceremony for the official opening of the building, with wine and nibbles and no doubt a speech or two, but I didn’t plan to attend as I was meeting a friend later that evening.

I was heading across the atrium when I became aware of a commotion. A small group of pro-Palestian protesters had managed to get into the building and they were chanting the usual gibberish slogans through a loudhailer, and waving flags.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It turned out that a larger group of protestors, perhaps a 100 or so, had also tried to get in the building but were stopped by security and all the doors were locked. They were now outside all the entrances of the building, also chanting slogans and waving flags.

People taking part in a pro-Israel rally in Parliament Square in London. PIC: Victoria Jones/PA WirePeople taking part in a pro-Israel rally in Parliament Square in London. PIC: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
People taking part in a pro-Israel rally in Parliament Square in London. PIC: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

They couldn’t get in, and those of us inside couldn’t get out. I was going to miss my train and my long anticipated pint with an old colleague. Very annoying.

The aggressive screaming and setting off sirens was certainly a nuisance, and no doubt the planned opening ceremony was completely ruined.

Their narcissism and sense of self-righteous entitlement was off the scale. Do they really think such behaviour is going to make the blindest bit of difference to events in the Middle East? I doubt many of them could point to Gaza on a map.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The protesters were given the usual kid glove treatment by the police and security. I was told more than once that they had every right to protest. That is indeed true, except their protest was infringing my liberty to go about my business. It is invariably the case that when the rights of two groups collide, the law abiding group always comes off worse.

Much more sinister was the cosplay Hamas fan boys in the protest who had dressed up exactly like their baby-killing, gang raping heroes, with keffiyah scarves completely covering their faces except for a narrow slit for the eyes.

Not for the first time I wondered how Jewish students and members of staff are reacting to these belligerent and hostile demonstrations, with their racist chants and eliminationist rhetoric. They must be absolutely terrified. I have come to the sorry conclusion that British universities are no longer safe places for Jews. That is how bad things are now. The extent of denialism amongst the pro-Palestinian groups is deeply worrying. There are those who, despite mountains of hard evidence, deny hostages were taken or civilians slaughtered on October 7.

But the Hamas killers were so depraved that they not only gloried in murdering children, they filmed themselves doing it. The evidence couldn’t be stronger.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And as a working journalist for more than 40 years, I am sad to say the media bears heavy responsibility for this atmosphere of hatred. News organisations have uncritically swallowed and regurgitated Hamas propaganda, including the casualty figures in Gaza.

For example, we are told by our Hamas parroting media that all the deaths are of civilians, and not a single Hamas fighter has died. Honestly, what are the chances of that? What happened to scepticism and journalistic scrutiny?

The BBC in particular has had a terrible war, and has been forced to issue numerous corrections for uncritically repeating Hamas lies. They told us, for example, that an explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital was the result of an Israeli strike, and that the Israeli Defence Force were targeting medical teams and Arab speakers. These were entirely wrong and had to be corrected.

Even this week the BBC repeated Hamas’s preposterous claim - again without challenge and entirely uncritically - that hostages being dragged into Al-Shifa hospital were being taken for medical treatment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What is becoming clearer by the day is that Al-Shifa was a Hamas military base, and that hostages were held, tortured and murdered there.

It is not just the media that comes badly out of this - NGOs such as UNRWA, the Red Cross and the World Health Organisation must have known hospitals in Gaza were being used as military bases, putting the lives of civilians at real risk.

It is immensely depressing to see respected institutions, our streets and workplaces, and places of learning, overtaken by ignorance and racist hatred.