UK PM Rishi Sunak to ask British university heads to protect Jewish students amid pro-Palestine protests

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has decided enough is enough on pro-Palestine protests. Sunak has decided to hold a meeting with the heads of universities of the UK to address the issue of antisemitism in colleges on May 9, according to the New York Times. This comes amid reports of antisemitic chants and heckling of Jewish students by pro-Palestine protesters.

“A vocal minority on our campuses are disrupting the lives and studies of their fellow students and, in some cases, propagating outright harassment and antisemitic abuse. That has to stop”, said Sunak’s office in a statement issued before the meeting.

This came after protests were seen even in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. People from within the government have also raised concerns about the protest encampments on university campuses.

The pro-Palestine protests started at Columbia University in the US and soon spread to other countries, including the UK.

Vice-chancellors of the most prestigious universities of the UK will be part of the meeting with Rishi Sunak, which will be held on Thursday (May 9). “Universities should be places of rigorous debate but also bastions of tolerance and respect for every member of their community,” said Sunak. They will discuss, “escalating antisemitic abuse towards Jewish students in the UK”, the statement added.

Rishi Sunak also cited statements from the Union of Jewish students, which has recently said, “While students have a right to protest, these encampments create a hostile and toxic atmosphere on campus for Jewish students.”

Representatives from the Union will also be a part of the meeting, reports Reuters. They claim to represent 9,000 Jewish students in Britain and Ireland.

The demonstrations on the British campus are not as widespread as in the US. But there is a fear of escalation and, it seems, Sunak is taking pre-emptive measures as well.

The PM’s office has also cited data from a charity that works to protect British Jews, the Community Security Trust, which noted 182 instances of antisemitic violence in the UK and these numbers were three times more than in previous years, reported the New York Times.

These protests still remained to be free of police intervention, but the police have been alert of pro-Palestine protests, especially in London.

In 2023, Sunak and his Interior Minister, Suella Braverman, tried to stop another pro-Palestine protest, but after Braverman called the protestors “hate marchers” and claimed that the police even “played favourites.” As a result, Braverman was sacked from the government.

Now, the government has made clear that it will not tolerate any racial violence and the students can complain if they feel such an act has been committed.

Published By:

India Today Web Desk

Published On:

May 9, 2024

Leave a Comment