Summit to Tackle Antisemitism

Jewish students are becoming more and more concerned about their safety in the face of hatred from other students at universities in the UK. They have experienced a record level of antisemitic abuse in the last year.

British universities recorded 111 antisemitic incidents, which represents an increase of 59 percent over the year before, according to a survey conducted by the Community Security Trust (CST).

Much of the abuse took place online. Examples include one student at Glasgow being told to “go gas herself” and another at University College London receiving a death threat complete with a picture of her head beneath a guillotine.

The general situation in the UK is drawing increased attention from senior politicians. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, recently stated her opposition to antisemitism at a lunch meeting with the CST, saying:

“We will at every level, fight antisemitism – and there will be no excuses.
No exceptions. No justifications. No disagreements on politics or policy can ever be
allowed to justify racism, prejudice or extremism in any form in our society.”

And now the Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has ordered a summit on campus antisemitism – a response to both the CST report and the incident in which the Israeli Ambassador was threatened by a mob outside the London School of Economics last week.

Education Secretary Nadhim ZahawiEducation Minister, Nadhim Zahawi (photo: Crown copyright)

The event will include representatives from the Union of Jewish Students, Universities UK, the National Union of Students, and the Office for Students. Universities Minister Michelle Donelan will host the gathering and explore actions that will help Jewish students feel safe.

Sadly, the UK is far from alone in experiencing this surge in antisemitism. In September last year, Forbes reported that harassment and attacks on Jewish students had reached record levels in the USA.

The move to online education prompted by the coronavirus pandemic has provided new opportunities for antisemitic abuse of students, with online classes being disrupted by hackers posting messages such as: “Adolph Hitler”, “Sieg Heil”, “Kill the Jews” and “The Holocaust Never Happened”.

While increased attention is being paid to the abuse of Black people, antisemitic harassment and hate crimes are said to be a major blind spot. In proportion to population numbers, there are far more hate crimes committed against Jews than against African Americans or Muslims.