Israel Apartheid Week

This week universities across the country have cancelled their Israel Apartheid Week events recognising the importance of the wellbeing of their campus communities, which is put at risk with threats of antisemitism.

I very much share your concerns of the prevalence of antisemitism in UK universities, and strongly believe that no student should face discrimination, harassment or racism, including antisemitism.

I am assured that the Government is committed to addressing antisemitism wherever it occurs and I am encouraged that the UK became the first country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Ministers will continue to call on all higher education institutions to accept the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which is a tool to help front-line services better understand and recognise instances of antisemitism. I believe this would send a clear message that antisemitic behaviour will not be tolerated and will be taken seriously by higher education providers.

All universities and higher education institutions have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment and have a responsibility to ensure students do not face discrimination, harassment, abuse or violence, including online. Universities are expected to have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, and to investigate and swiftly address any hate crime and antisemitic incidents that are reported.

Ministers have provided over £144,000 for a programme to support universities in tackling antisemitism on campus, delivered by the Holocaust Education Trust, in partnership with the Union of Jewish Students. I also welcome that an additional £500,000 of government funding is being provided to allow 200 university students each year to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, to hear from the last Holocaust survivors and to help educate students on the importance of continuing to tackle antisemitism on campuses. This is part of a wider Government commitment to Holocaust remembrance which has included a donation of £1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

I hope this assures you of how strongly the Government and I are committed to stamping out antisemitism once and for all.