Nadhim Zahawi: Antisemitism will never be tolerated – in classrooms or on campuses’

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Nadhim Zahawi: Antisemitism will never be tolerated – in classrooms or on campuses’

Education secretary gives 'clear message' against anti-Jewish hatred to 40 young Jewish leaders, university vice chancellors and education officials at landmark conference

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said a summit he led this week to address the rise of antisemitism across UK universities was held to “send out a clear message that anti-Jewish racism, like other forms of racism, will never be tolerated in our classrooms or campuses.”

Forty people – including university vice chancelllors, Union of Jewish Students representatives, the government’s antisemtism adviser Lord John. Mann and other educational official – attended Wednesday’s online conference led by the Secretary of State.

Holding the event ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Zahawi said: “Education is the vaccine against antisemitism.

“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.”

He added:“In November I visited Auschwitz and was humbled by the experience. Seeing first-hand the spectre of a concentration camp which bestowed so many horrors is something which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“The antisemitism summit  look at the incidents of antisemitism on campus and discuss measures and commitments that can be taken to ensure Jewish students and staff feel safe in higher education.”

Lord John Mann added: “It is vital to consolidate best practice and uphold the central role of the UJS in empowering Jewish students on campus. It is good to see the government is recognising this.”

Amongst those to also speak out was Jonny Newton of the Community Security Trust who warned of the need for security of Jewish students to be taken ultra seriously – and he spoke also of the need to work in unity with groups across the community.

The CST is to improve data reporting from universities to help build a better picture of this issue and sharing cases of best practice.

UJS will also run a training workshop for attendees about how to improve support for Jewish students who have been victims of antisemitism.

Minister of State for Higher and Further Education Michelle Donelan said: “I am horrified by the very thought of even one incident of antisemitism on campus – it has no place within any of our world leading universities.

“I will work hand-in-hand with the sector to take forward commitments agreed to today and ensure providers have the right tools to tackle this issue.

“Finally, I want to take this opportunity to urge those few universities yet to sign up to the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism to follow in the footsteps of many others and do so now. Without a universal recognition of antisemitism, we cannot hope for its abolition.”

UJS President Nina Freedman said: “We are so excited to be a part of this campus antisemitism summit. It is great to see the Department for Education taking action on this incredibly important issue. Hopefully this summit will just be the first step in a collaborative plan to combat antisemitism in higher education.”

“Antisemitism awareness training is a vital and effective tool for rooting out antisemitism in the higher education sector. We hope to empower as many people as possible to recognise and call out antisemitism where they see it in any form”.

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