Secondary school children should be taught about modern anti-Semitism as a mandatory requirement, a government adviser has said.
Lord Mann, the government’s independent adviser on anti-Semitism, has called for secondary schools to be required to teach contemporary anti-Semitism in addition to pupils learning about the Holocaust.
His comments come as he launches a new report on the fight against anti-Semitism in the UK on Monday. It also comes amid growing concern about the spread of anti-Jewish hatred among young people – much of it being promoted by far-right and neo-Nazi groups on social media platforms.
The report calls on the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to work together and launch a ‘unified policy initiative to ensure that’ secondary school children are informed of the harms and consequences of the contemporary anti-Semitism”.
As well as reform in secondary schools, Lord Mann has also called for a renewed and concerted effort across all UK universities and colleges to make Jewish students feel safe on campus and the report includes a set of new recommendations to drive it.
“Act before racism poisons the minds of more young people”
He said: “The growing spread of anti-Semitism among young people should be a matter of deep concern to all of us, not least because it often leads to hate crimes and violence against members of the Jewish community, including school children.
“If young people learn about contemporary anti-Semitism in school, are less exposed to it online and are deterred from committing racial hatred because they are more likely to feel the force of the law, then the UK will be in able to build substantially on the progress made following past recommendations of the all-party parliamentary group.
“I urge the UK government and devolved nations to act on my new calls for action before this form of racism poisons the minds of many more young people.”
His comments come amid a number of surveys suggesting an increase in reports of anti-Semitism.
In July 2022, a survey of 1,315 secondary schools in England by the Henry Jackson Society think tank found that antisemitic incidents in schools have nearly tripled in the past five years. Only 47 of the responding schools have a formal written policy that could educate staff about the vicious forms of anti-Semitic bullying that occur and how to deal with it.
Additionally, in February this year, the Community Security Trust, the charity that records anti-Semitic hate crimes, recorded how anti-Semitic hate crimes were recorded in all but one police region in Great Britain. Britain last year, in which it recorded a record number of incidents. .
Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover ‘adds urgency’ for governments to act
In 2021, the total level of anti-Semitic incidents increased by 34% to 2,255, the highest total ever recorded, with more than a third of all incidents occurring in May and June as violence between Gaza and Israel was intensifying.
Lord Mann’s report also argues that Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter with his defense of “free speech absolutism” adds to the urgency for UK and EU governments to act.
It also comes just weeks after US rapper Kanye West was embroiled in controversy after he was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks which led to him being dropped by his talent agency, fashion brand Balenciaga and the JP Morgan bank. A finished documentary about him was also shelved.
In response, a government spokesperson said, “Anti-Semitism, like all forms of bullying and hatred, is abhorrent and has no place in our education system.
“Holocaust atrocities are an integral part of the National History Curriculum at Key Stage 3, and we are helping schools develop a curriculum that discusses important issues such as anti-Semitism.
“The Online Safety Bill will mean that what is unacceptable offline is also unacceptable online. Where abuse is illegal, social media companies will need to take strong action to address it.