Robert Jenrick, the UK’s immigration minister, has revealed plans to remove foreign nationals who incite antisemitism, even if their actions fall “below the criminal standard”.
He included praise or support for Hamas, the proscribed terror group, in his description of behaviour that could lead to deportation.
The Government’s definition of antisemitism, specified in a 2016 report, follows that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance: ‘a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.’
It caveats that criticism of the Israeli government should not be seen as antisemitism, and that ‘Zionism’ remains a valid topic for academic and political debate (though use of the term ‘Zionist’ in an accusatory context should be considered ‘inflammatory and potentially antisemitic’).
Speaking in the House of Commons, Jenrick revealed that the process of withdrawing visas and expelling foreigners who spread “hate and division” had already begun in select cases. Current laws permit this on national security grounds.
The plans, which would cover international students and staff at British universities, follow reports of growing antisemitism linked to Hamas’s 7th October terror attacks and Israel’s response to them. In London, the Met Police have reported a 1350% increase in antisemitic incidents, including assault, damage to Jewish property, and online abuse. A significant uptick in the number of Islamophobic incidents has also been reported as a result of events in the Middle East.
University College London is investigating an academic who said Palestinian “retaliation” was “entirely justifiable”.
A professor at the University of Birkbeck described Hamas’ actions as a “consequence” of “partying on stolen land” – in an apparent reference to the Re’im music festival massacre, in which 270 Israeli civilians were murdered and an unknown number taken hostage.
A hotline set up by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) is receiving more than 100 calls a week, with students calling to share accounts of antisemitic behaviour.
The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, and the UJS have both separately written to university vice-chancellors to urge them to act against threats to the welfare of Jewish students, allowing them to ‘pursue their studies without fear of harassment or intimidation’.
Imperial President Hugh Brady’s response to a letter from the Jewish and Israeli societies stated, ‘On behalf of our entire leadership team I want to underline to you and all your members that antisemitism has no place at Imperial. Full stop.’