UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

New Task Force established to root out antisemitism in education at all levels  

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Antisemitism heard testimony in March 2022 from Jewish university students about their experiences of antisemitic and anti-zionist harassment at universities. This followed a request by Mrs Susan Storring, a Trustee of UKLFI Charitable Trust, to her MP, Theresa Villiers, a Vice Chair of this APPG.

As a result of the students’ testimony, an Antisemitism Task Force has been set up to root out antisemitism in education at all levels.

Mrs Storring also submitted written evidence of promotion of Hamas ideology by university lecturers and in school textbooks. This was sent to both the APPG and Lord Mann, the government’s independent advisor on antisemitism.

Four students gave evidence to the APPG. One of them spoke of the support she had received from UKLFI.

Andrew Percy MP

They reported on having been defamed, dismissed, and isolated by senior university staff. They spoke of a climate of “othering”. They referred to course material containing outright lies, distortions and inversions of reality, for example material on “settler colonialism”, “Israeli apartheid” and “American police brutality learned from Israeli police”. They mentioned one student whose essay had been marked down for discussing Hamas crimes instead of “Israel’s crimes”.

They also spoke about Oxford University accepting the Alexander Mosley Trust’s donation, in disregard of the concerns of Jewish students, in contrast with their circumspect care of the “Rhodes Must Fall” furore. Academics had been openly campaigning against the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, while claiming there had been “Zionist smears against Labour” and that “professors have been falsely accused”. There had been diversity training with nothing about antisemitism.

Andrew Percy MP, Chair of the APPG on Antisemitism, called this behaviour “outrageous”.

Mrs Storring’s written evidence included:

  • the saga of the 3 years it took for Bristol University to sack Prof. David Miller, and the “hundreds” of academics who supported Miller once the university finally did address his antisemitic harassment;

  • an analysis of the Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism, created by university academics, which denies the main form of antisemitism found on campus to-day, namely anti-Israel / anti-Zionist discourse and boycotts

  • evidence of a worldwide campaign by BRISMES (British Society for Middle East Studies), a group of university academics, calling on all “scholars” to sign an “affirmation” “that it is no longer acceptable to conduct research in Palestine or on Palestinians without a clear component of political commitment” including “pressuring our academic instutions and organizations to respect the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions of Israel”. This was “affirmed” by academics world-wide including those from the Russell Group, and whose signatures covered more than 200 pages.

  • Further evidence about anti-Israel ideology embedded in a school textbook on Israel-Palestine which was to have been used by one of the biggest comprehensive schools in the country with 2000 pupils.

Andrew Percy MP, raised this evidence with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, in the British Parliament at Prime Minister’s Questions on 23 March 2022. The Prime Minister responded that our universities have for far too long have been tolerant of casual or indeed systematic antisemitism”. He called for “rapid and irreversible change”, and the establishment of “an Antisemitism Task Force devoted to rooting out antisemitism in education at all levels.”

The establishment of this task force was formally announced at a Parliamentary reception hosted by Lord Mann on 5 April 2022. It will be led by Andrew Percy, MP, together with Lord Mann.

UKLFI and UKLFI Charitable Trust have now submitted further information to the task force comprising some samples of our extensive experience of addressing antisemitism and factors promoting antisemitism at universities and schools