The challenges that Jewish students face on campus have been well-publicised and Guy Dabby-Joory one of the new Deputies for the Union of Jewish Students, has a current take on the issue.
Guy, who is now working as a sabbatical officer at UJS, recently graduated from Oxford University, where he studied PPE. He says: “There were a few cases where speakers with offensive views were being invited to speak at various colleges. I also noticed some more casual antisemitism which came from a place of ignorance rather than of malice. And then there were some high-profile incidents – the Mosley Foundation made a multi-million-pound donation to an Oxford college which sparked a lot of controversy.”
At a more practical level, Guy also had to negotiate Covid lockdowns during his time at university. However, he was assisted by a helpful sabbatical officer, which prompted him ultimately to apply to become a sabbatical officer himself.
His time since he took up the post has been dominated by the report into antisemitism into the NUS, following the departure of its president Shaima Dallali in the wake of antisemitism allegations. He says: “We spent a lot of time dealing with the report’s consequences. Practically that has meant a lot of time speaking to student leaders around the country about the findings.”
He has also found that much of his time is spent dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic in reintegrating students and keeping them engaged in Jewish student life. This culminated in an event with almost 400 students attending, which Guy feels was a significant achievement.
As a young graduate he is keen to offer his perspective on the work of the Board. He says: “I think there is a sense that our generation have different views to those of the older generation, or perhaps more accurately a different approach. One obvious example of this is that younger people are more comfortable in criticising the state of Israel when necessary. I think the established position, that we shouldn’t speak out publicly against Israel’s actions, is totally valid but I do think that recent events are bringing about a change of attitudes.”
He adds: “The Board of Deputies does important work in standing up for Jewish people both in terms of antisemitism but also more widely in protecting Jewish life. I was keen to stand as a Deputy so that my voice and those of students could be heard. I think that’s very important.”
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