UK schools must teach pupils about the evil of modern antisemitism, new report warns

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UK schools must teach pupils about the evil of modern antisemitism, new report warns

A comprehensive new report published by Lord John Mann's office offers a stark warning about the rise spread of anti-Jewish hatred among young people.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Secondary schools should be required to educate pupils about contemporary antisemitism in addition to Holocaust studies, a major new report has recommended.

Lord Mann of Holbeck Moor – the Government’s independent adviser on antisemitism – makes the recommendation amongst growing concern about the alarming spread of anti-Jewish hatred among young people.

The report warns of a surge in Jew-hatred promoted by neo-Nazi groups and others on social media platforms.

Lord Mann’s study suggests if the scale of the issue among young people is not tackled “then we are storing up potentially serious problems for the future as well as for the present.”

The new report, published on Monday, states:”Only limited progress on learning about antisemitism in schools since 2006 has been made and this report is not the first time that this matter has been raised within government.

“The Antisemitism Policy Trust highlighted concerns from the APPG inquiries about the suitability of training materials about the matter and how to have difficult conversations in the classroom.

“Jewish representative bodies also believe that some teacher unions are found wanting in their willingness to address the issue.”

Lord Mann adds:”This year, Jewish girls and boys have been abused and threatened on public transport, at school and on the street because they are identified as being Jewish.

“Government, Parliament and society needs to consider whether this is acceptable in our country, and if not, what additional action is needed to
stand up to the oldest hatred of all.”

Lord Mann outside Broadcasting House

The comprehensive report also suggests a renewed and concerted effort is also required across all UK universities and colleges to make Jewish students safe and feel safe on campus.

A series of new recommendations are outlined to help achieve this.

It is noted:”Among students and academics, the growth in antisemitism has largely occurred under the guise of anti-Zionism or criticism of the Israeli Government.

“The atmosphere can become particularly toxic when conflict in the Middle East arises.”

The report also looks into claims that media organisations, including the BBC, have been failing in their responsibility to report issues, particularly around Israel, fairly.

It concludes:”As an independent observer, this Office felt it necessary to request a meeting with the Director-General of the BBC in January 2022 to discuss the BBC’s coverage of antisemitic incidents such as the Texas synagogue hostage taking during the same month and the abuse
aimed at Jewish passengers on a bus in central London during the Chanukah festival the previous November.

“Jewish representative bodies have also made complaints on several occasions about remarks made on BBC Arabic Service which they believe have ‘crossed a line’.”

But more optimistically Lord Mann suggests:”Following the meeting with the Director- General, this Office is hopeful that there will be far less grounds for complaint directed towards the BBC in the future. ”

The peer’s report 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.

As one of the 10 main recommendations in the report Anti-Jewish Hatred: Tackling Antisemitism in the UK 2022 – Renewing the Commitment it is suggested 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.

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.

But Lord Mann’s latest report also confirms very significant progress being made in recent years in combatting antisemitism in the UK and worldwide, resulting from two landmark reports published by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism in 2006 and 2015.

Lord Mann 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.”

A Jewish Leadership Council spokesperson said Lord Mann’s report “is a useful contribution in the fight to combat antisemitism in contemporary Britain, and we look forward to continuing our close work with him.”

The Board of Deputies said:”Lord Mann’s report offers an invaluable updating of what our priorities should be in tackling antisemitism. We hope the Government will study it closely and implement its recommendations.”


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