Council of Christians and Jews condemns antisemitism at Leeds University; rabbi forced into hiding

The Parkinson Building at Leeds University in Leeds, England
The Parkinson Building at Leeds University in Leeds, England | Wikimedia Commons/Tim Green,_Leeds_University,_England-12Sept2010.jpg

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) has condemned antisemitic attacks on Leeds University campus that have forced a Jewish chaplain and his family into hiding.

Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch has been moved to a safe location along with his wife and two children on the advice of police after he received death threats over his role as an Israel Defense Force (IDF) reservist. 

He had been in Israel to serve in the IDF following the Oct. 7 terror attack by Hamas. Threats were also made to rape his wife and kill his children.

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Hillel House, the Jewish student centre at the university, was targeted in recent days with antisemitic graffiti saying "Free Palestine" and "IDF off campus."

The CCJ called the incidents "shameful" and said it had been in touch with Rabbi Deutsch and his family. 

It comes days after Jewish students at the University of Birmingham were left "scared" after other students chanted "death to Zionists" on the campus and held a banner saying "Zionists off our campus."

The CCJ said recent incidents in both Leeds and Birmingham showed a "need for education and action on antisemitism."

"We are committed to supporting all efforts to ensure Jewish students and staff at Leeds feel safe and heard," the CCJ said.

Over 500 Leeds University alumni have written to Prof. Hai-Sui Yu, the university's vice-chancellor, with their concerns about antisemitism on campus.

"The university has a duty — both morally and legally — to report and prevent extremist behaviour, which no doubt includes defacing a Jewish community centre for students. We expect to see the university wholeheartedly condemning this behaviour – and acting decisively to curtail it," they said. 

Leeds University has condemned the antisemitism and scaled up security on campus.

"We totally condemn the antisemitic abuse and threats directed towards the chaplain and his family — such attacks on any individual are unacceptable and will not be tolerated from members of the public or our university community," the university said in a statement.

"The university is supporting West Yorkshire Police in their investigations and will continue to work with his employer, the University Jewish Chaplaincy, to ensure Rabbi Deutsch can provide the support that is so valued by Jewish students at Leeds and the other universities he serves in the Yorkshire region.

"We are appalled that our Jewish student community was also targeted by a criminal act at Hillel House and share the concerns expressed for their safety and wellbeing. The university is actively supporting West Yorkshire Police and the Union of Jewish Students as the property owners as they investigate this incident as a hate crime."

This article was originally published by Christian Today. 

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