Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
 
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

First Minister hears concerns of Jewish Students

 
26 January 2016
The FM meets Jewish students to hear their concerns

Following her undertaking when we met her last summer, the First Minister held a round-table discussion at the Scottish Parliament today with a representative group of Jewish students, including some Israelis, who are studying at a variety Scottish universities and colleges. Also present at the meeting were the Jewish student Chaplain, Rabbi Yossi Bodeheim, and representatives of SCoJeC and Jewish Student Chaplaincy Scotland.

The students spoke about their personal experiences, and the following themes emerged:

There is a concern over the ability of universities to protect the safety of Jewish and Israeli students. This is heightened by individual experiences, particularly in Edinburgh and St Andrews in 2014, and has been reinforced by recent events on campuses elsewhere in the UK.

Students feel there is a lack of pre-emptive measures taken by the institutions to address tension and aggression towards Jewish and Israeli students and Jewish student societies.

There is a clear feeling that universities (among other institutions) are conflating Jewish and Israeli identities, and are therefore not adequately addressing such issues when incidents occur.

The students generally felt there was no space for cultural discussions regarding Israel and related issues on university campuses. It was felt the “safe space” policies used to prevent some events has not been fairly applied.

There is a feeling that when global events occur that may impact the student community, the Jewish and Israeli student communities are not given the support that has been previously been offered to other minority student communities on campus.

There is a feeling that antisemitism is more easily dismissed than other forms of hate crime because individuals try to qualify their actions politically.

Following the meeting, the First Minister said:

The FM with Jewish Student Chaplain Rabbi Yossi Boddenheim

“It was a pleasure to meet with Jewish and Israeli students and hear about their experiences of studying in Scotland. We believe that everyone has the right to be safe and to feel safe in their communities, and we are committed to creating and supporting safer and stronger communities in which we all take responsibility for our actions and how they affect others.  

“In the 21st century there is no place for antisemitism or racism. This Government respects the principle of academic freedom and the right of institutions to make their own decisions.  We are clear, however, that citing academic freedom does not provide a free pass to act without regards to the law and we condemn any discrimination or intolerance based on religious or cultural affiliation.

“We are committed to working with Scottish universities to ensure that every student has a positive experience while studying in Scotland and enjoys every opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

 

   
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