Peers heard that Jewish university students have suffered physical abuse since the October 7 terror attack. Testimony was given by 25 students from across the UK at a House of Lords roundtable event by StandWithUs UK.

Lord Ian Austin hosted the private event attended by Lord Polak and Baroness Barran. Students addressed intimidation, ostracisation from peers, the politicisation of student unions and neglect from university administrations.

St Andrews student Annie Gishen described instances of abuse including a “Magen David necklace being ripped off a student” and how an “egg was thrown at a visibly Jewish student wearing a kippah”. Annie also described how she had to leave her student accommodation because her presence there with her Israeli flag made her flatmate uncomfortable and “complicit in Israel’s war crimes”.

Lord Polak expressed deep worry at hearing the experiences of students. “The main concern is the lack of accountability and action taken by the university administrations,” he said.

Queen Mary University student, Benjamin Lea, shared how societies shared social media posts and statement praising Hamas and the October 7 massacre with no repercussions. “It is vital representatives of the UK government are under no illusions about the extremity of the situation on UK university campuses for Jewish and Israeli students,” commented Director of Campus Affairs at Stand With Us, Daniel Marcus who chaired the meeting.

“These students are exceptional in their bravery however their experiences are sadly far from exceptional and are fast becoming the norm. There must be stronger accountability for university administrations and student unions and zero tolerance for bullying, intimidation and extremism within our academic bodies.”

The gathering was part of StandWithUs ensuring students and communities can combat antisemitism and Israel misinformation. The meeting will contribute to a report on university campus life.