There have been 150 cases of antisemitism against UK uni students in the past two years

One Jewish student was hit with a rubber bat when returning to their uni accommodation

There have been 150 antisemitic incidents affecting Jewish students, academics and student bodies in the last two years, a new report by antisemitism charity CST has found.

These included incidents across 30 university cities. Over the past two years, six university cities saw five or more recorded incidents of university antisemitism: 30 in London (across 10 unis, including 12 at UCL alone), 14 in Bristol, 12 in Birmingham, 10 in Oxford, eight in Coventry and six in Nottingham.

95 cases, the total for the 2020/21 academic year, is the highest total CST has ever recorded in a single academic year. The charity recorded a further 55 cases last academic year, 2021/22.

In the past two years there were three reports of assault, one each in Lancaster, Birmingham, and Bristol. One of these involved a Jewish student being hit with a rubber bat when returning to their student accommodation, and having antisemitic slurs shouted at them.

47 of the incidents took place on campus, including in lectures or seminars, in halls, or at events hosted on campus.

Antisemitic posters, of Israeli flags with swastikas replacing the Star of David, were found placed around campus at Royal Holloway in London in 2021. CST says it was in contact with local police, where two arrests were made in connection with the case and both were released on bail.

At Warwick in May 2021, a student was forced to apologise after making an antisemitic poster and taking it to an on-campus protest.

In October of the same year, there were reports of antisemitic messages written on t-shirts at a university hockey club’s white t-shirt social, where one member’s t-shirt read “What do me and Hitler have in common?”, with the answer: “How much we hate the Jews”. The student was suspended pending investigation, and the whole team was given antisemitism awareness training.

82 of the cases happened online, including sending antisemitic messages to Jewish students or societies, antisemitic messages in group chats, or antisemitic social media posts made by students, staff or SU officers.

In 2021, Jewish girls from universities across the country were added to an antisemitic group chat. One of students, from Birmingham, told The Tab at the time: “It is terrifying that things like this are happening”, with a Leeds student saying she “felt so intimidated and threatened”.

In the past two years, seven threats were made to Jewish students – four 0f these were online, and all were off campus. One Leeds first year had several missed calls from a number, and when they finally answered, heard a pre-recorded message that said: “I want to shoot all your family […] I hate the Jews”.

Following a rise in antisemitic threats, including a Jewish UCL student being sent a photoshopped image of her under a guillotine, in 2021 UCL announced plans to increase police presence around the campus.

The reported incidents also include those perpetrated by students, academics, SUs and student society officers. Five of the 150 university antisemitic incidents in CST’s report were perpetrated by staff, some of whom the charity says “had a prior record of expressing allegedly antisemitic views”.

“As one of the most complicated and sensitive aspects of university-related antisemitism, it is essential for institutions to develop appropriate and proportionate rules and policies for when students make a complaint about alleged antisemitism from their own lecturers or tutors”, CST says.

The charity says that during May-June 2021, “the conflict between Israel and Gaza caused a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents nationwide”, and the month of May saw “almost a years’ worth of incidents” – 55 in just one month.

These included three death threats sent to Jewish students. Until this point, the reports to CST of antisemitism had been decreasing compared to the previous academic year.

CST says in the report: “Universities have a duty of care to protect all students at university. However, it is not always the case that they succeed in providing robust support to Jewish students. This is sometimes seen in how some academic institutions handle complaints of antisemitism made by Jewish students.”

It makes recommendations to universities, including ensuring impartial investigations of complaints, and allowing for anonymity at the request of the student.

If there are any Jewish students in need of support, please contact UJS on 0207 4243288 or email [email protected]. To report an antisemitic attack, call CST at their 24 hour number 0800 032 3263

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