On Wednesday our Campaigns Manager Liron Velleman spoke in Parliament on a panel titled ‘Antisemitism on campus: where do we go from here?’
The panel was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism and the Antisemitism Policy Trust. John Mann MP opened the event and the keynote address was delivered by Angela Rayner MP. Alongside Ms Rayner and Mr Mann, Liron sat on the panel with Shakira Martin, NUS President; Danny Stone MBE, Director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust; and Professor Edward Byrne AC, Principal and President of King’s College London. The panel was chaired by Robert Jenrick MP.
The panellists discussed tackling antisemitism on campus from the Jewish student perspective as well as the importance of working with Parliament, universities, students’ unions and NUS on doing so. In light of recent events at UCL, the need for proper implementation of No Platform Policy was also discussed, focusing on the importance of protecting freedom of speech whilst actively ensuring the safety and welfare of students whose physical and mental welfare might be threatened by extremist hate speakers.
Discussing how efforts to combat antisemitism can be embedded and mainstreamed in the HE sector, Liron called for a unified approach on campuses, saying: ‘Too often a Jewish student will make a complaint to their university, but that won’t get translated to their students’ union, or vice versa.’ He also highlighted UJS’s proud and long-established history of tackling antisemitism on both proactive and reactive fronts, from keeping National Action off campuses in the 1970s to challenging far left and far right antisemitism today, with support from CST; and our work securing support from NUS, students’ unions, universities and Universities UK for robust definitions of antisemitism.
Liron also noted that focusing exclusively on antisemitism cannot give the full picture of Jewish life on campus, a particularly significant point since the panel took place during Interfaith Week, for which J-Socs organised some 28 events on campuses across the UK, and just ahead of Mitzvah Day, which also saw record levels of activity.
Following the panel, an Early Day Motion has been launched in Parliament. The Motion covers universities adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, consulting Universities UK and NUS on External Speakers Guidelines, addressing violent protests and facilitating better reporting systems for antisemitism, and can be read here. If significant numbers of MPs sign the Early Day Motion, it could lead to a debate in the House of Commons on the topic, so we encourage students to contact their local MPs, both at home and at university, to ask them to sign and support it. Please be in contact with the Campaigns Team if you would like further support on this.