Universities Urged to Act After Survey Shows 60% Increase in Antisemitism Against UK Jewish Students
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) in the United Kingdom has expressed concern over new figures showing a 60-percent rise in domestic antisemitic incidents affecting Jewish students and academics, calling on university leaders to “take decisive action on our concerns.”
A new report released by the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors antisemitism and provides protection for the Jewish community, recorded 1,805 antisemitic incidents in the UK last year, the highest total ever logged in a calendar year and a 7% increase on 2018.
The figures included “40 antisemitic incidents affecting Jewish students, academics, students’ unions or other student bodies in 2019, a rise of 60 percent from the 25 such incidents reported in 2018.”
Twenty-one of the incidents took place on campus, while 19 were off campus. They included two instances of physical assault, four incidents of damage and desecration of property, two threats and 32 examples of “abusive behavior.” The latter category includes verbal and written antisemitic abuse, such as drawing swastikas or vocalizing antisemitic slurs. There were no reports of campus-related, mass-produced antisemitic literature.
UJS — which includes some 60 Jewish Societies on campuses in the UK and Ireland under its umbrella, representing 8,500 Jewish students — cautioned in a statement on Thursday that due to under-reporting of hate crimes, “the scale of the problem is not fully revealed. Research shows that only around 20% of hate crime is reported.”
“Throughout 2019 we have seen swastikas on campuses, the trivialisation of the Holocaust, antisemitism in students’ unions, and antisemitism in campus discussion around Israel,” the group said. “It is the duty of universities and students’ unions to protect Jewish students and make sure we feel welcome on campus.”
It is a sad but unsurprising statistic to many Jewish students who can often feel the palpable hatred expressed by fellow students and academic institutions. Hopefully this will awaken people to the knowledge that we must do better by our Jewish students across the country. https://t.co/Iwu4pOIO03
— Nina Freedman (@ninafreedman1) February 7, 2020
When Jewish Societies “raise concerns about antisemitism we expect institutions to listen and take decisive action on our concerns,” it added.
UJS said it has created an antisemitism training program for student union sabbatical officers and staff, as well as a booklet titled “How to support your Jewish students,” which is distributed to student unions that have participated in the training.
“Over 40 institutions have taken part in our training programme,” it said.
The group also helped launch a new Holocaust education program alongside the Holocaust Educational Trust, which the UK government committed in January to granting £500,000 (about $645,000) over three years. The program, set to begin in the fall, will take 150 student leaders annually to the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. They will then participate in a seminar dealing with campus antisemitism, and be encouraged to pass on their knowledge by holding seminars on their own campuses.
In December, ahead of the UK’s general elections, Jewish students who protested a visit by Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn to Bristol were targeted with antisemitic abuse by the far-left politician’s supporters.
A BBC report in 2018 found that concerns over antisemitism affect the university selection process of some British Jewish students, with advocates blaming the Labour party’s attitude on anti-Jewish discrimination for the rise in hostility.