CST Blog

Antisemitic cuckoo coming to Nottingham University?

13 March 2014

The participation of Tim Llewellyn in a forthcoming FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Student Societies) conference at Nottingham University on 15th March, raises deeply troubling questions about the attitude of FOSIS to its Jewish counterpart, the Union of Jewish Students.

Llewellyn is a former BBC journalist, who now peddles ugly conspiracy theories about Israel, Zionists and Jews, including British Jewish students. In 2006, he described “the Zionists” as:

this cuckoo in the nest of British politics

In the same article he wrote this about the Union of Jewish Students:

...the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

This is an antisemitic conspiracy smear that places the representative body of ordinary British Jewish students at the service of a conspiracy to influence “British public life” via “the media, the banking sector and information technology”. Like all conspiracy theories, when it is actually spelled out in detail, you can see how cuckoo it is: claiming that the Union of Jewish Students selects and places and directs undergraduates into life-long careers and positions of influence. (Many former UJS activists will be outraged at not having been invited to join this gravy train of conspiracy, success and influence! They may even demand a return on their membership fees.)

This is the man whom FOSIS want to address their own students, rendering them cuckoo.

Imagine how university and student union authorities,  Muslim student societies and Muslim students would rightly react if the Union of Jewish Students invited a speaker like Llewellyn, with his track record of conspiracy trash talk. For example, see this previous CST blog from last June, when Llewellyn addressed the journalistic Frontline Club and claimed BBC staff were scared of “the Jewish lobby”. The chair objected to his saying “Jewish” whereupon Llewellyn replied:

Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.

Grudgingly, he changed the label, saying "alright, its an Israeli lobby", but then asked "why are we afraid of them":

Why are we afraid of them. That’s what I don’t understand. You know, I mean, we’re all British…I may be Welsh, but I’m British.

At this stage the anti-racist interventions stopped. Nobody asked Llewellyn if he meant to imply that this "Jewish lobby...Israeli lobby" that uses "Jewish connections to get you" is somehow not British: or at least not British in the moral sense that he (an upstanding Welshman) is.

The Frontline Club meeting was for journalists and pro-Palestinian activists. The Nottingham University meeting is for students and pro-Palestinian activists. Will Llewellyn be warned beforehand to avoid using the word “Jewish”? And, even if he does cover up, how will FOSIS and the university and student union authorities mitigate against the animosity he risks spreading against ordinary Jewish students for whom a basic sense of Zionism and supporting Israel is part and parcel of their identity?

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has cleaned some of the muck out of its membership and websites in recent years. The group's leader Sarah Colborne is one of the speakers at the Nottingham event. Will she intervene if Llewellyn takes it too far? Or, might Norman Finkelstein, another of the speakers?

Finally, some more context for Llewellyn’s rant against the Union of Jewish Students, including an antisemitic cuckoo:

No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

We can imagine the excuses that will be made for Llewellyn, with FOSIS and others saying he is ‘only’ anti-Israel, and of course not antisemitic; whilst the various campus authorities will probably cite freedom of speech. But, in all seriousness, look at the above again and consider again what reaction Jewish students could rightly expect if they invited a speaker who said of Muslims:

alien polity...manipulated British systems...cuckoo in the nest...people like us and among us...

And then, the list of MP’s, whom he is glad to see dead, including “Richard Crossman (not a Jew)”: meaning of course that the others are...shock...horror...Jews!

The modern day inheritors of this conspiracy: the Union of Jewish Students, which keeps placing these cuckoos in the British nests.

It is not too late for FOSIS to disinvite Llewellyn. Perhaps they were unaware of his outrageous slander against their Jewish counterparts. Then again, perhaps FOSIS agree with Llewellyn and this invite merely shows their true attitude towards Jewish students and their representative body.

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