I would like to make it clear that I condemn all acts of antisemitism in the strongest possible terms. The Government is committed to addressing antisemitism wherever it occurs, and I am encouraged that the UK became the first country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
The Department for Education (DfE) has called upon Higher Education providers to sign up to the IHRA definition, and it is encouraging that 95 universities have currently signed up, increasing from 67 universities in September 2020.
Tackling antisemitism is an issue I care deeply about, especially having worked with Simon Gronowski to host a performance of the opera, Push, at the Speaker’s House in Parliament in 2019. Simon’s story is a remarkable one, where his mother pushed him from a moving train bound for Auschwitz and the opera tells his tragic story of love and loss. The performance was attended by leaders in the Jewish community along with members from both Houses of Parliament. Every year, on Holocaust Memorial Day, I, and many others, sign the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, pledging my support to honour those who were murdered during this dark period of history and pay tribute to the extraordinary survivors, like Simon, who work tirelessly to educate young people today. There’s also lots of work that goes on in Chichester annually with events across Chichester put on by the district’s Holocaust Memorial Day Committee, led by Councillors Clare Apel and Martyn Bell to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.
My colleagues in Government will continue to call on all higher education institutions to accept the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which is a tool to help front-line services better understand and recognise instances of antisemitism. This would send a clear message that anti-semitic behaviour will not be tolerated and will be taken seriously by higher education providers.
All universities and higher education institutions have a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment and have a responsibility to ensure students do not face discrimination, harassment, abuse, or violence, including online. Universities are expected to have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, and to investigate and swiftly address any hate crime and anti-semitic incidents that are reported.
We have provided over £144,000 for a programme to support universities in tackling antisemitism on campus, delivered by the Holocaust Education Trust, in partnership with the Union of Jewish Students. I also welcome that an additional £500,000 of government funding is being provided to allow 200 university students each year to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, to hear from the last Holocaust survivors and to help educate students on the importance of continuing to tackle antisemitism on campuses.
This is part of a wider Government commitment to Holocaust remembrance which has included a donation of £1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.