The student union at York University has become the first in the country to make a public apology and offer a four-figure sum to a Jewish student who complained of anti-semitism.
Zachary Confino, 21, a law student, suffered stress and narrowly missed a first-class degree, after two years of battling with anti-Israeli students at York University.
This week, after the intervention of the universities minister, Jo Johnson, he will accept a written apology from the university’s student union over his treatment.
The apology, brokered by the university’s registrar, will be published online and Confino will receive a sum understood to be at least £1,000.
Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi, who warned earlier this year that “British universities are turning a blind eye to Jew hatred” and that the Labour party had a “severe problem” with anti-semitism, said he hoped the apology would send a strong message to other universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, where Jewish students have allegedly been made to feel uncomfortable.
“This apology is most welcome, not only in the context of the case of Zachary Confino but also for the clear message that it sends to other universities that there must be absolutely no place for anti-semitism on our campuses,” said his spokesman.
Confino was trolled on the social media app Yik Yak, where one anonymous user wrote: “Hitler was onto something”. He was called “a Jewish prick” and an “Israeli twat”.
When he tried to oppose a student union motion to boycott Israeli goods he was told that it was his own fault that he was getting anti-semitic abuse because he supported Israel.
While leafleting against the staging of the play Seven Jewish Children at the university by the Palestine Solidarity Society, he says he was confronted by three members of the society, including Tom Corbyn, son of the Labour leader, an engineering student. Tom Corbyn has not commented.
“The number of anti-semitic incidents I was subject to went from zero in my first year to about 20 in my second and third years,” he said. “The university did not do much about it. It has taken me two years to fight a complaint and I am relieved I have finally got this apology. The stuff I was subjected to came from far-left students. The far left say racism is a black/white issue. They seem to think Jews are fair game.
“The experience has been so depressing . . . It ruined my experience at university. I can never get that time back.”
In an apology to Confino to be made public this week, the student union accepts he suffered “very distressing experiences” and said it wanted to learn lessons “in terms of sensitivity to anti-semitism”.
The university said it was committed “to preserving the right to freedom of expression while also combating anti-semitism, Islamophobia and any other form of race hate. To this end, we have signed joint statements with both the Jewish Society and the Islamic Society on campus.”