LSE students, Nazi drinking games and antisemitic assault

January 15th, 2012 by CST

The London School of Economics student newspaper, The Beaver, today reports on an appalling antisemitic assault that took place on an LSE Athletics Union ski trip over the Christmas holidays:

LSE students are facing disciplinary action after participating in a Nazi-themed drinking game during the Athletics Union’s ski trip, held at a French mountain-side resort in December 2011. Tensions escalated, resulting in two students engaging in an altercation, one of whom sustained a broken nose from the incident.

‘Nazi Ring of Fire’ involved arranging cards on the table in the shape of a Swastika, and required players to “Salute the Fuhrer.”

A video featuring students making antisemitic comments was uploaded to Facebook, but has since been removed.

It is bad enough that some LSE students thought a ‘Nazi-themed’ drinking game was appropriate behaviour; it is even worse that a Jewish student was himself abused and assaulted when he objected to the game.

To their credit, LSE, the Students Union and the LSE Athletics Union have all condemned these events and disciplinary measures have been promised. CST utterly condemns what occurred and will support LSE Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish Students throughout this process.

We are also heartened by the editorial in The Beaver, which sets out the need to address this outrageous antisemitic behaviour with appropriate moral clarity:

It has come to light this week that, on the LSE Athletics Union’s ski trip to Val d’Isere, a small group of LSE students were involved in the deplorable activity of playing a Nazi-themed drinking game. A Jewish member of the group objected to this behaviour and was the victim of a tirade of antisemitic abuse which led to an altercation in which his nose was broken.

The Beaver condemns this behaviour in the strongest possible terms. Behaviour of this variety is unacceptable, backwards and saddening. In a community as international, multicultural and diverse as that which we have at LSE, it is all the more shocking that behaviour of this level of insensitivity, arrogance and stupidity can occur. Antisemitism, like all forms of discrimination, is absolutely inadmissible, and something that should be confined to the past. However, in a deeply regrettable trend, this variety of casual antisemitism is apparently undergoing a worrying resurgence and appears, in recent years, to have become widespread within university communities and on a wider stage. Similarly egregious events have taken place in recent years; in 2010, at the University of Huddersfield a comparable ‘Hitler drinking game’ was initiated; in November 2011, within the Oxford University Conservative Association there were allegations of students singing antisemitic songs; and more recently, sacked MP Aidan Burley was present at a Nazi-themed stag party (though he denies being involved in the activities).

Perhaps the most saddening element of the event, in addition to the hugely offensive nature of the behaviour of those involved, is the inactivity of those on the fringes, who allowed the events to unfold; not only did they fail to intervene, but turned it into a spectator sport, videoing it on a camera phone.

The idea that casual antisemitism is acceptable as a joke and can be used in a way that will not cause offense is utterly wrong. Whether they realised this or not, these members of the LSE student body offended an entire community through their actions. ‘Casual’ discrimination in any form perpetuates prejudices and enforces negative and false perceptions of races, religions and social communities. The widespread nature of remarks and actions like these mean that the views of many within student communities – and our society as a whole – have been inevitably changed for the worse. If such actions go unchecked, our university will not be the safe place that it can, and should, be for everyone. Our student community is admirably diverse and accepting of others. To protect this tradition, this type of behaviour must be stamped out. Now.