Wiesenthal Centre Urges Bishop of Manchester to Condemn University Student Union's Israel Boycott Campaign as "Contributing Factor to Antisemitism"

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Wiesenthal Centre Urges Bishop of Manchester to Condemn University Student Union's Israel Boycott Campaign as "Contributing Factor to Antisemitism"

Paris, 24 February 2009

In a letter to the Rt. Revd. Bishop Nigel McCulloch of Manchester, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, noted his presence at last week's London Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Antisemitism, where the Bishop "characterized us all as 'co-workers in the struggle against antisemitism'".

Samuels pointed out that "almost simultaneously with that important conference, in your own parish, the University of Manchester Student Union passed a motion calling for the boycott of Israel. The Union's General-Secretary, Rob Pinfold, regretted that this motion had not condemned Hamas, 'a far-right Islamist group who regularly practice torture, murder and execution of lesbian, gay and transsexual groups, dissidents and women'."

The letter added that "a statement from the University of Manchester stressed that it 'would not tolerate behaviour by any member of staff or student who discriminates against any member of the University on the grounds of race or religious belief'."

The Centre cited "the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Declaration and the European Fundamental Rights Agency Working Definition, both of 2004, which consider such singling out of Israel as a contributing factor to antisemitism. It certainly impacts upon Jewish students who suffer the consequences of hatemongering which targets the Jewish State."

Samuels continued, "this situation will be further exacerbated by the self-declared 'Israeli Apartheid Week', scheduled to occupy university campuses – including Manchester – from 1 until 8 March. Indeed, this is an instrument to ratchet up the demonization of Jews in the lead to the April 'Durban II' hatefest replay at the United Nations in Geneva."

The Centre called on the Bishop "to condemn the Manchester University Student Union's Boycott Campaign as a form of racism," stating that "your voice would pass a vital message to your parishioners, the Jewish community and the academic world that such behaviour cannot be countenanced by those who consider antisemitism as unconscionable – a message in the spirit of your own dedication to interfaith dialogue and solidarity."


For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.