UK Students Urge University to Suspend Rabbi Who Served in Israeli Army

Credits: Al Jazeera

Students at a university in northern England are currently staging a sit-in to demand the suspension of a Jewish chaplain who served in the Israeli army during the conflict in Gaza.

The sit-in, taking place in part of the Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds, is the latest in a series of protests against Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch, who was called up as a reservist for two months late last year.

Though the details of his military involvement are unclear, his service has sparked ethical concerns, particularly in light of the significant number of Palestinian casualties during the conflict.

Israeli Army (Credits: The Independent)

Organizers of the sit-in, who wish to remain anonymous due to fears of university reprisal, stated their opposition to welcoming back anyone who participated in what they describe as a genocidal conflict.

Deutsch, who is an Israeli citizen, has been serving as a chaplain at Leeds and other British universities since 2021. He began his military service in November as part of a mobilization effort following attacks by Hamas in southern Israel.

The ongoing protests, which have called for Deutsch’s expulsion, have garnered significant support, with over 100 students participating in the latest sit-in.

University chaplains are expected to provide support and pastoral care to students and staff in their religious practices.

The controversy surrounding Deutsch’s return to campus led the university’s Muslim chaplain, Farhat Yaqoob, to resign, citing a misalignment of principles with the institution.

The situation escalated when Deutsch and his family were relocated to a safe location following alleged threats of violence and rape, as reported by the Daily Mail.

In response to the threats and incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti, the university issued a statement condemning such behavior as unacceptable.

Conservative politician Robert Halfon expressed concern over what he sees as universities ignoring or appeasing extremism on campus.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.