The University of Manchester in northern England has been "twinned" with al-Najah University in the West Bank following the passing of a motion filled with anti-Israel rhetoric by the student's union last week.
Some 19 Palestinian suicide bombers have originated from al-Najah, and in 2001, the university organized a display to celebrate and recreate the suicide bomb attack on the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, which killed 15 Israelis.
The motion stated that “Palestinian education has been severely hindered since the outbreak o f the second Intifada in September 2000 by blanket curfews, the presence of roadblocks and recently the erection of the wall. The cumulative effects of these measures have put the future of many Palestinian universities at grave risk."
It called on Manchester University's student's union "to send a letter of support and a copy of this motion to al-Najah University Student Union inviting them to twin with UMSU," and "to lobby the University to provide at least three scholarships for Palestinian students who wish to study at the University of Manchester."
As part of the motion, a plaque will be installed at the entrance to the university's campus heralding the new relationship with al-Najah.
The motion was introduced by a student group called "Palestine Action," a subsidiary of the British Respect Party, itself made up of an alliance between Islamists and far-Left activists, and supported by the university's Islamic Society, a Jewish student representative told Ynetnews.
"This is a very concerning situation," Jonathan Levy, Chairman of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said. He stressed he had no objection to the twinning of a UK university with a Palestinian university in principle, but said that "twinning with this specific university, which is most extreme and radical, is offensive to Jewish students."
Addressing the climate faced by Jewish students on British campuses, Levy said: "In general, it is worrying. This is part of a trend which isn't going to get better, and it could deteriorate."
"It's a very serious situation indeed," Levy said, adding: "The results of this are very nasty. It was deliberately passed to make Jews feel uncomfortable, and has made the atmosphere very intense. There's a lot of concern."
"We need to take a step back and come up with a strategy to counter this, otherwise these motions will keep on coming, and the baiting of Jewish students will continue," Levy said. "The democratic processes of universities has been hijacked by a minority group. The demographics aren't on our side," he added.
Levy said that the administration of Manchester University has so far been "reluctant" to get involved. "We're talking to them, and we're going to continue talking to them," he said.
Twinning with PA universities 'quite popular'
Michael Simmons, Campaigns Manager of the UJS, said the twinning of Manchester with al-Najah was not a unique event. "Broadly speaking, twinning with Palestinian universities is quite popular in this country," he said.
"Al-Najah glorifies terror, and we find that offensive," Simmons said. "The motion itself doesn't mention any attacks on Israel, or the plight of Israelis. It is unbalanced," he added.
Marc Livingston, Campaigns Manager at Manchester University, said Jewish students suffered verbal abuse after the passing of the motion. He insisted however that "the general atmosphere is still fine. We're still very happy at Manchester University. No one is talking about leaving. 1200 students recently attended a Jewish social event."
Meanwhile, at the University of Leeds, a stone's throw from Manchester, a lecture by a German academic addressing Islamic anti-Semitism was cancelled by the university's administration following what the university said were security concerns.
Matthias Kontzel, a German political scientist, specializes in the anti-Semitism of radical Islamic groups, and had landed in Britain last week to deliver the lecture entitled "Hitler's Legacy: Islamic anti-Semitism in the Middle East," organized by the university's German department.
He was however told the event had been called off due to fears that he would be assaulted. Kontzel expressed outrage over the move.