UK - Record levels of antisemitic abuse hit university campuses

Antisemitic incidents have reached an all-time high at UK universities according to new data which "should ring alarm bells for everyone in the Higher Education sector", the Community Security Trust has warned.

Cases rose to 111 this academic year, compared to the 70 cases recorded during the previous 2019-2020 period.

The 59 per cent jump represents the highest annual total ever recorded by the charity since it began collecting incident data in 2002, the CST said.

Almost all cases involved verbal, written or online abuse, though there was one alleged assault.

A majority of cases (64) were reported in May, with all nine incidents recorded at the University of Oxford reported as the 11 day-war unfolded in Israel and Gaza.

In split first position in terms of the total number of incidents were the University of Bristol and the University of Warwick with 11 cases each.

Trailing behind, the University College London and the University of Birmingham had 10 and eight alleged incidents each.

Most allegations at Bristol were reported in February as the institution became engulfed in a row over comments about Jewish student societies made by Professor Prof David Miller, who has since been fired.

A spokesperson for the CST said that “the fact that 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.”

The CST also called on universities to ensure their “complaints processes are fit for purpose and that Jewish students get the necessary support when they suffer antisemitism.”

The Union of Jewish Students - itself reportedly targeted in eight of the incidents - called on universities to do more to combat anti-Jewish racism.

It was “incredibly worrying to see how positive and active Jewish student life is being tainted by the growth of anti-Jewish hatred across campuses in the UK,” a spokesperson said.

“It is vital that institutions, student unions and the wider community are active in calling out anti-Jewish racism and take concrete steps to safeguard their Jewish students, for example adopting and using the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

All five universities were contacted for comment.

A spokesman for the University of Warwick said this week that anyone found guilty of expressing antisemitic views faces expulsion or withdrawal from the institution.

The university, an IHRA adoptee, said in its statement it did “not tolerate any form of discrimination. Antisemitism is abhorrent, and runs contrary to everything we stand for as a university.”