A very disturbing event occurred last week at Cambridge University, long regarded as one of the world’s best universities. This is where the likes of Isaac Newton, EM Forster and Sir Francis Bacon acquired their higher education.
An openly anti-Semitic person was invited to speak at the university’s famed — and regarded as the world’s oldest — debating club, Cambridge Union. Not surprisingly, he voiced anti-Semitism.
It doesn’t take a genius to predict this would happen, and that’s why Jewish leaders protested that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was invited at all.
Mohamad fufils both types of anti-Semitism: the classic kind (he’s referred to Jews’ “hooked noses” and their “instinctive sense of money”) and the new anti-Israel strain (he recently had this to say about Israel: “all the evil that mankind can inflict on others can be compiled in Palestine, courtesy of the barbaric, arrogant, terrorist nation called Israel”).
So no, it was no surprise when, after Cambridge Union stood by their invite, Mohamad in his talk first invoked the “some of my best friends are Jewish trope.” His exact words: “I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends.”
The crowd — this rarified Cambridge set — laughed along with the open exhibit of anti-Semitism, while the moderator remained silent.
In 2017, the Cambridge University Jewish Society shared with the university’s newspaper, the Varsity, its deep concerns about growing anti-Semitism on the campus. Incidents against Jewish students, swastikas appearing and flyers supporting a Holocaust denier being disseminated were among their concerns.
Judging by both the invitation extended to Mohamad, along with the fact that not only did no one speak out against his anti-Semitism, but some even laughed along, the anti-Semitism problem at Cambridge hasn’t gone anywhere.
The question is — does the university even care?