Dr. Amira Halperin says students supporting Hamas send threatening emails but university administration fails to act; says Israel too failing to live up to responsibility to protect Israelis, Jews abroad
Much has been said and written since the beginning of the war about the rise of antisemitism and Israel hatred on U.S campuses, but Britain, too, has experienced a spike in expressions of hatred against Israel as well as blatant antisemitism. Dr. Amira Halperin, an Israeli lecturer at Coventry University and an expert in communications, refugees and terrorism, testifies that her sense of security was greatly damaged by reactions to the war.
“We hear the stories from the U.S, we see the call to condemn antisemitism in universities and the presidents of those institutions fail to do so time and time again,” Halperin tells Ynet. “I think it is necessary to understand that what hides behind this onslaught is not only the big words like “antisemitism” and university presidents who do not condemn it, but simply people like me who live in fear and there is no one to protect us.”
Why do you live in fear? What do you feel?
“It’s not just a feeling, it’s threats. We call it antisemitism, and in simple terms it means daily threats from people. I’m talking about a large community of Hamas-supporting students who can come in the morning and make threat, send emails.
“What do the emails say, and what do they tell you verbally?
“They say that Israel must be destroyed, because this is actually their solution – a one-state solution, meaning the complete destruction of Israel. Other issues that are discussed, of course, are the claim that Israel is committing ‘genocide.’ It all starts with a very large BDS movement that has existed in universities for a long time in Britain, and not just there. I know this from my research.”
Are you also being threatened?
“Yes, that’s why I’m really calling here for help. I’m alone. There is a large community of Jews and Israelis in the US. I’m threatened, I’m afraid, I’m worried about the possibility that some student will come tomorrow morning with a weapon and I don’t know what could happen next. As soon as a student who knows you are an Israeli lecturer, sits next to you and sends you these messages, and actually threatens you, there is certainly a personal threat here.
“Are you really afraid that someone will hurt you physically?
“Very much, because I am alone. We have no help, not even from the university administration.
“Did you turn to them and tell them you are receiving threats? Did they not respond? There is also the Israeli embassy in London.
“The universities share same values as the students. There is no separation here between students and lecturers or professors. Everyone is against us, there is no one to talk to, no one to complain to.”
You say that there is no separation between students and lecturers, but if you would were to threaten a student, I assume that would make much noise and the university would stand with him. Is it like we see in the US, where they say “it depends on the context”? How do they even respond to such explicit threats?
“They are completely ignored. There is a law according to which we are supposed to report students who engage in radical actions and support terrorism. We have a law in the country and it is valid for the university, that we are supposed to report if we encounter such a thing – but my reports are completely ignored, they say there was nothing to the threats and they do nothing.
“Could you please give an example of the threats you receive?
“A senior member of staff entered my class in the middle of a lesson and started shouting against the occupation. Maybe students then feel it’s legitimate to act in the same way. If the administration does it then they also have legitimacy, and then they act. They send emails or shout that we killed people and that’s why we deserve it.
“Did you contact the Israeli embassy?
“I think that we’re being neglected and that the State of Israel has also left us behind. I do not know Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely personally, but I know that the State of Israel is supposed to take responsibility and help us. I do see, for example, that Gilad Erdan is doing things in the U.S, but I don’t think that here, I have someone to turn to. That’s why I think it’s important to speak out. If Hotovely hears me now and if the Foreign Minister hears me now – I’m asking you to contact me and help me, before it’s too late.”
Why don’t you actually return to Israel?“
I wish there was employment in Israel, it’s not that simple. I wish it was possible. I think that a person should, bottom line, think about his or her livelihood and live where a job is available. With all the ideology about Israel being the best, I have two children to support.
“You mentioned the children, how do they feel about their schools?
“My children also feel what is happening. I don’t think that running away conveys the right message. There are people like me who work here and Israeli children like my children who study here in schools. Running away is not a solution. I mean, I think that there should be some kind of solution provided by the state to help in these cases.”