Oxford University Labour Club embroiled in accusations of anti-Semitism

Accusations of anti-Semitism have embroiled Oxford University's Labour club (OULC), the former platform of a number of politicians including Ed Miliband and Michael Foot.

Chalmers said in a post on Facebook he could no longer in "good conscience defend club policy".Facebook / Alex Chalmers

Chairman of the club Alex Chalmers resigned in protest, alleging that a "large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews".

Chalmers, an undergraduate at Oriel College, said his decision was in light of the OULC's decision to endorse 'Israel Apartheid Week' which he described as having a "history of targeting and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses".

His resignation was shared publicly on Facebook on Monday night, accusing members of the OULC executive of "throwing around the term 'Zio' (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon". Chalmers also claimed that senior club members had expressed their "solidarity" with Hamas and claimed "most accusations of anti-Semitism are just the Zionists crying wolf".

OULC have said they are looking into the allegations and that it was "horrifying" Jewish students did not feel safe on campus.

Fellow co-chair of OULC, Noni Csogor, said: "We take allegations of anti-Semitism in the club very seriously and I will be discussing, with my executive committee, how to deal with the kinds of statements Alex mentions, and what concrete steps we can take in future to preserve a club that's been a safe haven for Jewish students in the past."

Jewish students in Oxford have responded by saying they are "saddened" but "unsurprised" by the reports of anti-Semitism. Oxford University Jewish Society (JSoc) claimed some students have been "laughed at and mocked" on previous attempts to raise the issue, according to the IBTimes.

A spokesperson added: "It is not the first time that Oxford JSoc has had to deal with anti-Semitic incidents within the student left and it will not be the last. It is a significant and worrying issue and one that, on many occasions, Jewish students have felt that they are fighting alone. We are grateful that Alex Chalmers has made the statement that he did and has brought the issue of anti-Semitism to the fore in a way that Jewish students have so far been denied."

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) campaigns director Russell Langer added: "The reports of anti-Semitism coming out of the OULC are extremely concerning. These reports, along with the decision of OULC to endorse Israeli Apartheid Week, show that OULC are against the interests of Jewish students. I commend the bravery of former co-chair Alex Chalmers in his decision to resign from OULC and bringing this issue to the attention of the wider public. Considering the number of senior politicians who have passed through OULC I hope that this matter is investigated urgently by the Labour Party with appropriate action taken."