Students speak out against antisemitism at UK universities

Louise Cusine on the increasing environment of antisemitism at UK universities.

Louise Cusine
1st March 2021
Image: Religion Unplugged
Less than 1% of students at UK universities are Jewish, yet antisemitism is on the rise. According to a thread on Twitter by Campaign Against Antisemitism, a third of British adults harbour between one and three anti-Semitic beliefs, and 12% have ingrained anti-Jewish views.

Fuelled by an investigation into the anti-Semitic conduct of Professor David Miller, a lecturer at Bristol University, more and more Jewish students are speaking out about their experiences of antisemitism.

Whilst many Jewish students have spoken out about the fear and intimidation they felt during Miller's lectures, some academics have signed a letter of support in the hope that his actions will not lead to his dismissal.

Amongst his views, Miller said it was “fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia'', which outraged Jewish students who believe this form of misinformation is contributing to the hatred of the Jewish student population.

Similarly, Durham University student Chessy Weiner told The Courier that she was ''given a very stark reality as to what antisemitism looks like'' upon enrolling into a university that has very few Jewish students with some students ''holding prejudices that were founded in inaccurate education of Judaism''.

Weiner continued by recounting the condescending attitude of the intercollegiate Christian union towards her religion, leaving her feeling bewildered that someone would ever infringe upon her beliefs.

Jewish students believe they have been left in the dark by their universities

Jewish students across the country believe they have been left in the dark by their universities regarding emotional support. Some students also feel that their concerns are only heard by Jewish charities and organisations, and are ignored by universities.

The Holocaust Educational Trust, created with the aim of educating young people about the Holocaust, sent The Courier the following statement: "all students deserve to live and learn on a campus free of hate, intimidation and racism. That goes for Jewish students too".

They continued, "The Holocaust Educational Trust supports Jewish students and their allies in standing up and speaking out. The comments and behaviour of David Miller, a member of the academic staff at Bristol University, have been wholly inappropriate for many years, in particular the age-old accusation of dual loyalty of British Jews – it is time for Bristol University to take action".

The Union of Jewish Students streamed the following virtual rally on Wednesday with #hateoffcampus: https://www.facebook.com/UnionOfJewishStudents/videos/756681171621790

Students across the UK are rising up to demand that universities address the needs of their Jewish students and this starts with a clamp down on the rising tide of antisemitism.

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