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My Thoughts on The Current Situation in Israel for Jewish Students in the UK

Ahead of Shabbat and Shavuot, I wanted to give my thoughts on the situation for Jewish students right now.

Over the past four days it has, of course, been impossible not to read about what is going on in and around Israel: in Jerusalem, in Gaza, and in Israeli cities up and down the country. So many Jewish students have such a strong connection to Israel. Many have friends and family living there or have spent a significant amount of time visiting or living in Israel. UJS has thousands of students who are passionate about engaging in dialogue around Israel and the Palestinians, and this is something we are deeply proud of.

However, the past four days have also seen disgusting, offensive and racist vitriol, particularly on social media, targeting Jewish students and Jewish Societies. To any students who have received abuse, we are here for you. If you are targeted by antisemitism or hate, please do know that you can reach out to us for support.

This Saturday, on many campuses and in cities across the country, we will see pro-Palestinian demonstrations. These are related to Al Quds day and most will likely include messaging about the current conflict. Please know that we are aware of these and working with Jewish societies, universities, and students’ unions to ensure that these protests do not directly and negatively impact on you as Jewish students. Please, if you choose to engage with these demonstrations, do it respectfully and most important, safely, displaying the best of Jewish students.

And for those of you who are simply feeling overwhelmed with it all, do not be ashamed to switch off. It is not your responsibility to respond to every comment on social media, and you certainly do not deserve any hateful messages or comments you receive if you do put your head above the parapet. Click here to see UJS’ mental health support page, where you can find the right service for you.

Over the coming days, whilst we of course pray for a swift end to this latest wave of violence we are aware that it may not be as quick as we hope for. If you want to stay informed on the latest developments visit the UJS Digital Israel Portal where you can find everything you need to know about the current situation and about wider Israel engagement.

Finally, and probably most importantly, Shabbat Shalom. And this Shabbat, I am truly hoping for the “Shalom” that we all deserve. Wishing you all a Chag Sameach and a good weekend.


James Harris

UJS President, 2020-21