British campuses serve as fertile ground for heated political debates between Israelis and Arabs, but a new initiative sponsored by Gerald Ronson, one of the wealthiest Jews in the UK, aims to combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at universities across the country.
As part of the Campus Ambassadors program, 20 Muslim and Jewish students with leadership skills underwent six months of training in conflict resolution, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported on Monday.
The 'ambassadors' for the Coexistence Trust are currently enrolled in 10 of the UK's leading universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Manchester.
Now that they have completed their training, the students will begin working on joint projects and promote "damage control" activities. For example, the students will make certain that those who are invited to speak at the universities, regardless of their politics, will be able to speak their minds and not be heckled by either Jews or Muslims.
One of the 'ambassadors', Yuval Yaakov, attends Imperial College in London. "My hope is that we will be able to prove that Jew and can coexist and promote productive dialogue," he says.
Coexistence Trust chairman Lord Mitchell, who hosted the launch, said, "Islamophobia is the same poison as anti-Semitism, coming from the same people, and both our communities have to work together to counter all this. Together we can be much stronger than if we try to do it separately."
Ronson added "when Islamophobia hurts Muslims, it also hurts Jews."
The launching of the program at the House of Lords was attended by Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the British cabinet.