The SU President intends to contact Lord Mann Roger Harris / Wikimedia Commons /

The Students’ Union President has said he will be contacting the Government’s chief advisor on antisemitism, after an SU motion on Israel and Gaza sparked a row when the proposer called for a “mass uprising” like “the First Intifada.”

Fergus Kirman notified Varsity of his intent to contact Lord Mann, Parliament’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, as well as Professor Arif Ahmed, a controversial ex-Cambridge don recently appointed as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘free speech tsar’.

His decision comes since Cambridge’s Jewish Society (JSoc) condemned Monday’s motion to the SU Student Council as a “disgrace”. Edward Isaacs, President of the national Union of Jewish Students (UJS), also demanded the University investigate the motion and its proposer, and take “appropriate action.”

Varsity has also learnt that the CST, a Jewish charity that supports victims of antisemitism, has received a report on the motion proposer’s speech.

The motion, submitted by a member of Cambridge Marxist Society, called for “a mass uprising on both sides of the Green Line and across the Middle East.”

When pressed on the phrasing of the motion, the proposer told the student audience to think “back to the First Intifada”.

The First Intifada was a 1987 uprising in the Occupied Palestinian Territory against the Israeli authorities.

Einav Grushka and Tani Volk, Israeli students who co-authored a letter demanding the University condemn Hamas earlier this month, described the reference to the Intifada as “directly inciting violence and murder” in a statement to Varsity on Monday.

Kirman has said that he “deeply regrets how many Jewish students have been made to feel by these events.”

The national Union of Jewish Students (UJS) statement accused the SU of “failing in its duty of care to Jewish students” and putting Jewish students “in a position where they must debate the murder of their friends and relatives”.

Kirman told Varsity that the SU only tabled the motion because they believed they were “required to under freedom of speech obligations.”

Kirman has sought “urgent guidance” from Professor Ahmed on how to “interpret [the SU’s] obligations in this case.”


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“We will also be contacting the office of Lord Mann, the government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, and we’re hoping to receive legal advice to determine whether we are indeed required under law to allow students to table this motion,” Kirman said.

“No student ever deserves to be made to feel fearful, humiliated, or unsafe,” Kirman added, in reference to the student backlash to the motion.

Vice-Chancellor Deborah Prentice said at an all-staff meeting earlier this week: “The University has zero tolerance for all forms of racism, and that includes anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and any other form of unlawful discrimination or abuse based on ethno-religious identity. That has to be stated very, very clearly.”

“We must affirm everyone’s rights to hold and express their views within the law while continuing to care for and empathise with each other as human beings,” the Vice-Chancellor continued.

The University has declined to clarify as to whether the motion will be investigated.