A Jewish law student at York University in the north of England is to be given a public apology and compensation of $1,370 (1,000 pounds) for anti-Semitic abuse that he suffered at the school, the Guardian news website reported on Sunday.
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The student, Zachary Confino, accused the university of doing little to address his situation over a two-year period, during which he was said to have been called a "Jewish prick" and an "Israeli twat" as well as being subject to an anonymous social media comment that Hitler was "on to something," the Guardian said.
The case was resolved following the intervention of Universities Minister Jo Johnson, a member of British Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet. This also came after Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who is now master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University, contacted Johnson with concern over what he said was the British government's "muted" response to rising campus anti-Semitism at some British universities.
The Guardian also reported that Williams, who held the most senior bishop's position in the Church of England, wrote to Confino and described anti-Semitism as “one of the most ancient and poisonous” forms of hate-speech. “It is truly appalling stuff but sadly seems not to be that unusual at the moment.”
The compensation payment is thought to be the first of its kind by a British university, according to the Guardian, which said that a spokesman for York University called the compensation a "token payment" and that the university served as a mediator between Confino and the student union over the text of the apology.
“The university is committed to preserving the right to freedom of expression while also combating anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and any other form of race hate. To this end, we have signed joint statements with both the Jewish Society and the Islamic Society on campus. We welcome students from all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities in our diverse community,” the York University spokesman was quoted as saying.
But the Guardian added that Jonathan Sacerdoti, the director of communications at the Campaign against Anti-Semitism, said the apology and payment to Confino were not enough. "There must also be a commitment to fighting anti-Semitism properly, something they failed to do in Zachary’s case. It should not be necessary for individual Jewish students to fight lengthy battles with their university unions over the course of many months or years in order to have Jew-hatred dealt with properly."