Skip To Content
Fast Forward

More Than 200 Students Vote Against Approving Jewish Club At U.K. University

Updated February 22

A request to form a Jewish club at a British university was only approved by a narrower-than-expected vote of the student body, with more than 200 people voting against it.

The proposed Jewish Society at the University of Essex had to be approved by the student union, which had recently approved clubs like the “Pokemon Go Society” and the “K-Pop Society.” But only 64% of students voted in favor of approving the Jewish group’s formation, with 36% – comprising more than 200 students – voting no.

“Jewish societies, of which over 60 exist on UK campuses up and down the country, provide a space for Jewish students to celebrate their culture and identity,” the country’s Union of Jewish Students said in a statement. “The fact that some students at the University of Essex deem it fit to vote against that is quite simply shocking.”

The statement also pointed out that a computer science lecturer at the university, Maaruf Ali, had campaigned on Facebook against the formation of the group.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Ali had also posted memes on Facebook questioning the number of Jews who had died in the Holocaust, and claiming that the Mossad was connected to the January 2015 Islamic terror attack in Paris.

The school’s Amnesty International Society also took issue with the formation of the Jewish Society, citing planned celebrations of Israel’s Independence Day.

A spokesperson for the university, which has more than 15,000 students, told the BBC that the school had a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment and was investigating the matter. The university’s vice chancellor told the Jewish Chronicle that the school was committed to the formation of a Jewish society regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Contact Aiden Pink at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.