Jewish students “repeatedly” spoke of an “underlying fear of being targeted” over their backgrounds and of being “expected to answer questions about Israel”, a report by the parliamentary Taskforce on Antisemitism in Higher Education has confirmed.
The report adds that it is “commonplace” for students not to wear “certain clothing or jewellery around campus because it would make them visibly identifiable as Jewish.
Other students also confirmed they were reluctant to attend seminars or lectures around issues such as Israel “for fear of personal interrogation”.
The taskforce, established by the Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, Lord Mann, with support from members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, also said they were “shocked” to learn some staff kept their Jewish identity secret to avoid “negativity” from other colleagues at work.
The Taskforce held meetings with over 50 Higher Education institutions, Jewish students and other HE stakeholders to gather information about the current experience of Jewish students and staff on campus.
It confirmed that “Jewish students generally have a positive university experience” but recognised the rise in antisemitic incidents on campuses “relating to Zionism or Israel.”
Its key recommendations included the implementing and embedding the IHRA definition of antisemitism into all processes, which the taskforce said was “essential for building trust between Jewish students and staff and their institutions”.
It was also concluded that level of religious provision for Jewish students and staff is “fundamental to whether Jewish students attend their universities and feel fully welcomed”.