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November 15, 2021 4:30 pm
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Antisemitic Bullying at Record Levels in UK Universities, Up 59% Over Previous Year

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Hertford Bridge, also known as “The Bridge of Sighs,” at Oxford University. Photo: Michael D Beckwith / Flickr

Antisemitic bullying of British Jews on university campuses has reached record levels, rising by 59 percent since the previous year, according to an organization that works to protect the Jewish community in the UK.

There were 111 antisemitic incidents recorded in the 2020-2021 school year at universities in the United Kingdom, The Times reported, citing data shared by Community Security Trust (CST) nonprofit.

In one such incident, a Glasgow University student was told to “go gas herself.” In another, a student was sent a digitally altered picture of her head severed by a guillotine.

The CST said 64 of the 111 incidents it recorded this year happened during the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip this May.

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Both the University of Bristol and University of Warwick each witnessed 11 incidents — the highest total for any single school. Ten incidents occurred at University College London, nine at the University of Oxford, and eight at the University of Birmingham, where a Jewish student was assaulted in a residence hall.

At the University of Bristol, 10 incidents of antisemitism were reported after former sociology professor David Miller, who was recently fired following allegations that he promoted antisemitic conspiracies

CST said Monday described this year’s tally as a “record high for university-related antisemitic incidents, and the fact that they have risen for the fourth year in a row, should ring alarm bells for everyone in the higher education sector.”

“Universities need to be doing much more to ensure their complaints processes are fit for purpose and that Jewish students get the necessary support when they suffer antisemitism,” the group said in a statement. “The fact this this record total coincided with the recent conflict in Israel and Gaza shows yet again that wherever extreme anti-Israel hate is found, anti-Jewish hatred surely follows.”

Emilie Eisenberg, an English literature student at Warwick University and a self-described former leftist, told The Times that she was verbally pounced on social media and alienated by her friends after writing a post that linked rising antisemitism to the Gaza conflict in May.

“It seems that now there isn’t a place for Judaism with the package of being left wing,” she said. “People go along agreeing with [antisemitic behavior] because this is what it is to be left wing for many students.”

In a statement to the outlet, Warwick University told it does not tolerate antisemitism, and pointed to its adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which has been championed by Jewish student groups in the UK.

“Antisemitism is abhorrent, and runs contrary to everything we stand for as a university,” the school said. “We are committed to working in close partnership with our whole community to ensure everyone feels safe, valued and respected. Anyone found guilty of expressing antisemitic views will face sanctions, which may include expulsion or withdrawal from the university.”

Nearly 100 British universities have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism since last year, when only 28 did, according to figures released Office for Students (OfS), the UK’s higher education watchdog. Last year, then-education secretary Gavin Williamson said any colleges still holding out were letting their Jewish students down, while Ministry of Education recently threatened to cut their funding.

“Signing up to the IHRA working definition is one of the ways universities and colleges can tackle antisemitism,” explained Chris Millward, OfS director for fair access and participation, on Wednesday. “It is essential that universities and colleges act swiftly and decisively in response to any acts of antisemitism, so that students are safe, and feel safe, on campus.”

At the time, the Union of Jewish Students, which has campaigned for the IHRA definition since 2019, described its adoption as “the first step in combating antisemitism on campus and ensuring Jewish students are supported and confident in reporting antisemitism.”

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