More than a quarter of Jewish students live in fear of anti-Semitic hate crime, new research has revealed.
A study by the NUS into the experiences of Jewish students found that while the majority have not been victims of crime, two-thirds of those who have been believe that the incidents were motivated by their religion.
Researchers also found that 28% have received personal abuse online.
The report further revealed that 65% of Jewish students do not believe the NUS would “respond appropriately” to allegations of antisemitism.
One interviewee said: “There is a tendency for NUS representatives to make blanket statements about Jews, including presumptions about their motives.
“This is very belittling and indicates that issues of Jewish students are not seriously considered.”
The study comes amid on-going concerns about anti-Semitism within the NUS.
In a Home Affairs Select Committee report into anti-Semitism, union president Malia Bouattia was denounced for referring to Birmingham University as “something of a Zionist outpost in British higher education”, a comment the committee said “smacks of outright racism”.
Bouattia was also widely criticised for her comments during a 2014 conference speech on ‘Gaza and the Palestine Revolution’, in which she said that “with mainstream Zionist-led media outlets... resistance is resented as an act of terrorism”.
Discussing the Israel Palestine conflict also represents a significant hurdle for Jewish students, with 33% saying they would not feel comfortable engaging in debate on campus, while others reported being marked down in essays for taking a pro-Israel stance.
Debate within student unions was revealed to be particularly worrying for Jewish students, with more than half feeling unable to talk about Israel and Palestine in that setting.
One of the students surveyed said: “In a debate about whether the university should boycott Israel, the Jews in the room were accused of being Israeli spies working for the Israeli government.”
Another added: “Israel-Palestine dialogue can be very intimidating. And really it’s because dialogue does not exist.”
The report recommends training for student unions so they are better able to support Jewish students and respond appropriately to reports of hate crime.
NUS vice president Rob Young said that the union has “a history of tackling racism and fascism”.
“In a wider context of increasing antisemitism across the UK, we know that Jewish students have been feeling increasingly uncomfortable on university campuses and that there is a lot of work to be done to change that,” he said.
“I hope that the sector will act on the recommendations in this report. Everyone should feel able to participate fully in campus life and NUS and I are fully committed to ensuring that that is the case.”
Josh Nagli, campaigns director at the Union of Jewish Students, welcomed the report.
“In the last 12 months, Jewish students have regularly raised concerns, particularly about antisemitism on their campuses and the toxicity around the Israel/Palestine debate.”
Nagli continued: “It is therefore unsurprising that the report shows that such a large number feel uncomfortable engaging with NUS and student politics. The organisation must work to introduce guidelines to encourage dialogue and respectful campaigning around these sensitive issues to rebuild trust with Jewish students.”