UK government adviser recommends that schools educate about antisemitism

The recommendation comes amid growing concern about the alarming spread of anti-Jewish hatred among young people.

Official portrait of Lord Mann (photo credit: ROGER HARRIS/CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Official portrait of Lord Mann
(photo credit: ROGER HARRIS/CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The UK government’s independent adviser on antisemitism has called for secondary schools to be required to teach about contemporary antisemitism in addition to pupils learning about the Holocaust.

The recommendation, made on Monday in a comprehensive new report by the adviser, Lord Mann of Holbeck Moor, comes amid growing concern about the alarming spread of anti-Jewish hatred among young people—much of it promoted by neo-Nazi groups and others on social media platforms.

“A renewed and concerted effort is also required across all UK universities and colleges to make Jewish students safe and feel safe on campus and the report includes a set of new recommendations to drive it,” Mann said.

Antisemitic hate crimes reached record levels

Reaching record levels in 2021, more hate crimes than ever are being inflicted on members of the Jewish community despite significant efforts to tackle them over the past 15 years. A survey in July found that antisemitic incidents at schools in England have almost tripled during the past five years.

Mann said that implementation of the Online Safety Act, once through parliament, should be used to make online platforms fully accountable for knowingly failing to block all forms of race hate.

Senate House, University of London (credit: AN SIARACH/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Senate House, University of London (credit: AN SIARACH/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

“This year, Jewish girls and boys have been abused and threatened on public transport, at school and on the street because they are identified as being Jewish.”

Lord Mann

“Social media companies should for example be forced to identify to the police or to the libeled individuals the users who promote hate crime anonymously,” he said.

The report argues that the recent purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk with his championing of “free speech absolutism” adds to the urgency for UK and European governments to act.

“This year, Jewish girls and boys have been abused and threatened on public transport, at school and on the street because they are identified as being Jewish,” Mann wrote in the introduction to the report. He continued by writing, “Government, Parliament and society need to consider whether this is acceptable in our country and if not, what additional action is needed to stand up to the oldest hatred of all.”

One of the 10 main recommendations in the report “Anti-Jewish Hatred: Tackling Antisemitism in the UK 2022 – Renewing the Commitment” is that the UK and Scottish governments should establish why so few prosecutions of antisemitic hate crimes apparently take place and should work with the prosecuting authorities to address the issue.

A second issue that Mann has brought up in his report is antisemitism in UK political parties.

“The mainstream political parties must unite to stop the spread of antisemitism and race hate, especially to young people, including countering the increase from neo-Nazi groups,” he wrote. Mann also requested that the UK Home Office invest “multi-year government funding,” for the security of Jewish communities “to support physical guarding and interfaith initiatives.”

“The gap between the increased number of reported antisemitic hate incidents and the number of resulting prosecutions is believed to be huge, and Jewish representative organizations have made it clear that this is one of their biggest concerns because it contributes to a failure to deter offenders,” the report stated.

Mann’s latest recommendations follow very significant progress that has been said to have been made in recent years in combating antisemitism in the UK and worldwide, resulting from two landmark reports published by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism in 2006 and 2015. Nevertheless, one reason for the new report, supported by valued input from stakeholders across the country, was to identify what more needs to be done.

“The growing spread of antisemitism among young people should be a matter of deep concern to all of us, not least because it is often leading to hate crime and violence against members of the Jewish community, including schoolchildren,” Mann said after publishing the report.

“If young people are taught about contemporary antisemitism at school, are less exposed to it online and are deterred from committing race hate because they are more likely to feel the force of the law, then the UK will be in a position to build substantially on the progress made as a result of the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s past recommendations.” He then urged the UK government and the devolved nations “to act on my new calls for action before this form of racism poisons the minds of many more young people.”