Antisemitic incidents on UK university campuses at record high

Increase in antisemitic incidents in 2020/2021 is largely due to a wave of anti-Jewish incidents during and following the Israel-Hamas war in May.

SUPPORTERS OF Britain’s Labour Party take part in protests outside a meeting of its National Executive, which was discussing the party’s definition of antisemitism, in London in 2018 (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
SUPPORTERS OF Britain’s Labour Party take part in protests outside a meeting of its National Executive, which was discussing the party’s definition of antisemitism, in London in 2018
(photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

The number of reported antisemitic incidents on UK university campuses spiked significantly this academic year, with an increase of 59% over the previous year’s figures.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors and works to combat antisemitism in the UK, recorded 111 university-related antisemitic incidents, compared with 70 in the 2019-2020 academic year.

This figure represents a record high for antisemitic incidents on university campuses since the CST began tracking this specific number in 2002.

The organization attributed the increase to the massive wave of antisemitic incidents recorded during and in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas in May.

The CST noted that 64 of the 111 university-related incidents recorded in 2020-2021 took place that month.

VANS WITH slogans aimed at the Labour Party are driven around Parliament Square in London ahead of a debate on antisemitism last year.  (credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)VANS WITH slogans aimed at the Labour Party are driven around Parliament Square in London ahead of a debate on antisemitism last year. (credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)

The campuses with the highest number of antisemitic incidents were the University of Bristol and University of Warwick, which had 11 incidents each, followed by 10 at University College London, nine at Oxford University, and eight at the University of Birmingham.

All the incidents in 2020-2021 involved verbal, written or online abuse, apart from one incident of assault.

Of the incidents at Bristol University, 10 of the 11 happened in February, which is when Prof. David Miller made a series of highly controversial comments that led to his dismissal.

Miller asserted in a lecture that Jewish students were “pawns” of Israel.

All nine of the incidents at Oxford University occurred in May, during the war in Gaza and Israel.

“This record high for university-related antisemitic incidents, and the fact they have risen for the fourth year in a row, should ring alarm bells for everyone in the Higher Education sector,” the CST said in a statement. “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 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.”