Schools should be required to teach about contemporary antisemitism, not only the Holocaust, as part of a drive to combat an “alarming” rise in hatred towards Jewish people among British pupils, a government adviser has said.

The former Labour MP Lord Mann, who now sits as a non-affiliated peer, urged ministers across the UK to take action after an investigation found the number of antisemitic incidents in English schools had almost trebled over the past five years.

The independent antisemitism adviser to ministers said the “growing spread” of cases among young people should be a matter of “deep concern” to everyone, as he warned that such dangerous prejudices often led to violence against members of the Jewish community, including schoolchildren.

He called on the government to ensure that the smaller online platforms were covered by any changes to the law so they could be compelled to hand over information about specific antisemitic threats.

“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,” Mann said.

“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.”

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, agreed antisemitism was a “growing problem”, and backed the report’s call for all secondaries to be required to teach about contemporary antisemitism.

She called for it to form part of a comprehensive effort to tackle racial discrimination, saying its forms should be “indivisible”.

Bousted said: “When ministers and MPs attack asylum seekers, they create a hospitable environment for xenophobia and actively obstruct the work of schools in teaching against race hate, including antisemitism.”

Mann also advised ministers to work with online platforms to “eradicate” anti-Jewish hatred online, with those who fail to block it held accountable. He said the issue on larger platforms was already clear, but added that ministers should not neglect smaller platforms when drawing up the long-promised online safety bill.

The government should also investigate barriers to reporting and prosecuting antisemitic hate crime, counter the spread of dangerous rhetoric from neo-Nazi groups, and pledge multi-year funding to protect Jewish communities, the report said.

It warned of an “alarming growth” of anti-Jewish hate among young people, citing a survey of 1,315 secondary schools, carried out by the Henry Jackson Society thinktank in July, which found the number of antisemitic incidents had risen from 60 in 2017 to 164 in 2022.

A government spokesperson said: “Antisemitism, as with all forms of bullying and hatred, is abhorrent and has no place in our education system.

“The atrocities of the Holocaust are a compulsory part of national curriculum for history at key stage 3, and we support schools to construct a curriculum that enables the discussion of important issues such as antisemitism.

“The online safety bill will mean that what is unacceptable offline is also unacceptable online. Where the abuse is illegal, social media companies will need to take robust action to tackle it.”


Source link