30 May 2024

An impressive group of current and retired Jewish faculty members at Oxford University have appealed to the vice chancellor not to be taken in by those who confuse criticism of Israel with antisemitism but instead to listen to student protesters and negotiate with them in good faith, as administrators have done at several other universities in Ireland, the UK and the United States.

An Open Letter from Concerned Jewish Faculty at the University of Oxford

27 May 2024

Dear Vice-Chancellor Tracey,

We are Jewish faculty, staff, and emeriti at the University of Oxford of wide-ranging political persuasions,
cultural backgrounds, and degrees of religious identification and observance. Some of us teach and do
research on Jewish history, the Holocaust, or Israel; others have nothing to do with Jewish themes in our
professional lives. All of us, however, are deeply disturbed by the rising tide of rhetoric conflating criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza with antisemitism, and by the use of this rhetoric to justify government interference in higher education and repression of student protest—all under the pretext of ‘protecting’ Jewish students and staff.
As we write, the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel immediately to halt its assault on Rafah in
order to safeguard Palestinians’ right to be protected from acts of genocide. We are deeply proud of the
Oxford students, many of them Jewish, who have stood in solidarity with the international student movement protesting a war that has killed thousands of university teachers and students and leveled every single university in Gaza. As Jews, as educators, and as human beings, we stand with them.
According to the University’s statement issued on Thursday evening, Oxford’s Palestine Solidarity
Encampment has created ‘a deeply intimidating environment for many members of our community, including our Jewish students and staff and members of the local Jewish community’. This is not our experience. It is also not our experience that the Oxford administration has been open to dialogue with members of the Jewish community who are supportive of the encampment; when some of us reached out to you recently to propose a conversation, you ignored our offer. We therefore object to the University’s reductive and misleading claims to speak on our behalf. The characterisation of Jews as a uniform mass with a single viewpoint is itself a common and insidious antisemitic trope.
We implore you to listen to—and learn from—our students who have been urging the University to reckon
with its complicity in the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. In accordance with the University’s commitments to academic freedom and democratic governance, we encourage you to follow the lead of colleagues at the
University of Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, the University of York, and elsewhere who have chosen to
engage in meaningful, good-faith dialogue with protesting students.

Yours sincerely,

Reuben Binns, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Robin Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Development Studies
Daniela Dover, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Laurence Dreyfus, Professor Emeritus of Music
Katherine Lebow, Associate Professor of Modern History
Joseph Moshenska, Professor of English Literature
Avner Offer, Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History
Mar A Rodda, Early Career Researcher in Ancient Greek, Merton College
Joseph Schear, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Graeme Segal, Emeritus Senior Research Fellow in Mathematics, All Souls College
Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College, former Professor of International Relations
Bernard Sufrin, Emeritus Fellow, Worcester College and Department of Computer Science