UK education secretary leads pledge to tackle campus antisemitism

The January 26 summit brought together university leaders, students and organizations representing Jewish staff and students.

Jews and non-Jews gather in solidarity to protest against Antisemitism at Parliament Square in London on Sunday (photo credit: SARKIS ZERONIAN)
Jews and non-Jews gather in solidarity to protest against Antisemitism at Parliament Square in London on Sunday
(photo credit: SARKIS ZERONIAN)

An urgent response is needed to protect Jewish students and staff amid record levels of reports of antisemitic incidents, said UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who along with other UK-based education leaders pledged  late last month at a summit to tackle antisemitic abuse on campus

Among notable recent reported incidents include a Jewish student at Glasgow University being told to “go gas herself” as well as the Israeli ambassador being surrounded by protestors and reportedly threatened when she came to speak at the London School of Economics in November last year.

The January 26 summit, which fell on the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, brought together university leaders, students and organizations representing Jewish staff and students. Proposals discussed at the conference included ways of improving reporting of antisemitic incidents on campus, action to support victims and more targeted interventions.

Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely is seen speaking at the London School of Economics, on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. (credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN LONDON)Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely is seen speaking at the London School of Economics, on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. (credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN LONDON)

Zahawi, who previously led the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, said education is the vaccine against antisemitism. He reportedly said at the summit that “no Jewish students or staff members should be subjected to antisemitic abuse, and by working together we will send out a clear message that antisemitism – like other forms of racism – will never be tolerated in our classrooms or campuses.

“In November I visited Auschwitz and was humbled by the experience," he said. "Seeing first-hand the specter of a concentration camp which bestowed so many horrors is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”