Primary school children should be taught about modern anti-Semitism as a compulsory requirement, a government adviser has said.
Lord Mann, the government’s independent adviser on anti-Semitism, has called for secondary schools to teach modern anti-Semitism as well as pupils learning about the Holocaust.
His comments come as he launches a new report on tackling anti-Semitism in the UK on Monday. It also comes amid growing concern about the spread of anti-Semitism among young people – much of which is 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 government to work together and launch a “joint policy initiative to ensure that “young school children are educated about the wrongs and consequences of modern antisemitism”.
As well as reforms across secondary schools, Lord Mann has also called for a renewed and concerted effort across all UK universities and colleges to make Jewish students safe and feel safe on campus, and the report includes a set of new recommendations for 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 us all, not least because it often leads to hate crime and violence against members of the Jewish community, including school children.
“If young people are taught about modern antisemitism at 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 a position to build significantly on the progress that has been made as a result of the All-Parties Parliamentary Group’s previous recommendations.
“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.”
His comments come amid a series of surveys suggesting rising 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 anti-Semitic incidents in schools had almost tripled in the past five years. Only 47 of the schools that responded have any form of formal, written policy to make staff more aware of the vicious forms of anti-Semitic bullying that take place and how to deal with them.
Furthermore, in February this year the Community Security Trust, the charity which records anti-Jewish hate crimes, recorded how anti-Semitic hate crimes were recorded in all but one UK police region last year, where it saw a record number of incidents.
Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover ‘increases urgency’ for governments to act
In 2021, the total level of anti-Semitic incidents increased by 34 percent to 2,255, the highest number ever recorded, with more than a third of all incidents occurring in May and June when violence between Gaza and Israel escalated.
Lord Mann’s report also argues that the recent purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk with his advocacy of “free speech absolutism” increases the need for UK and European 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 label Balenciaga and bank JP Morgan. 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.
“The horrors of the Holocaust are a compulsory part of the National History Curriculum at Key Stage 3 and we support schools to construct a curriculum that enables discussion of important issues such as anti-Semitism.
“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 measures to tackle it.”