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 in a comprehensive new report by 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.
Anti-Jewish hate crime at record levels
Reaching record levels in 2021, more hate crime than ever is being inflicted on members of the Jewish community despite significant efforts to tackle it over the past 15 years. A survey in July of this year found that antisemitic incidents in schools in England have almost trebled during the past five years.
Lord Mann says that the 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. Social media companies should for example be forced to identify to the police or to the libelled individuals the users who promote hate crime anonymously.
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.
Criminal justice system not acting as a sufficient deterrent
As one of the 10 main recommendations in the report Anti-Jewish Hatred: Tackling Antisemitism in the UK 2022 – Renewing the Commitment, the UK and Scottish governments should establish why so few prosecutions of antisemitic hate crime apparently take place and should work with the prosecuting authorities to address the issue.
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 organisations have made it clear that this is one of their biggest concerns because it contributes to a failure to deter offenders.
Progress on tackling antisemitism since 2006
Lord Mann’s latest recommendations follow very significant progress being made in recent years in combatting antisemitism in the UK and worldwide, resulting from two landmark reports published by the 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.
Lord Mann of Holbeck Moor said:
“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.
“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 result of the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s past recommendations. I urge 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.”
Lord Mann’s new report Anti-Jewish Hatred: Tackling Antisemitism in the UK 2022 – Renewing the Commitment can be downloaded in full here