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StandWithUs UK poll finds almost one third of UK students believe that October 7th attacks were “an act of resistance”

Updated: May 22

18 May 2024

StandWithUs UK poll shows that 29% believe that the October 7th attacks were an act of resistance, and over half of Russell Group students expect pro-Israel students to face abuse on campus 

Over one-third (36%) of university students in the UK agree that the Hamas attacks on October 7th were an act of terror, while almost half (45%) believe that visibly Jewish people are likely to face antisemitism, and one-third (36%) agree that pro-Israel student campaigners should expect to face abuse on campus, according to a poll published by StandWithUs UK. 

The results of our poll confirm our fears that university campuses have become a platform for hatred of Israel and Jews to thrive, particularly amongst Russell Group universities which claim to be the elite of academia in this country. 

The results of the StandWithUs UK poll reveal that only 36% of university students think that “Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7 was a terrorist attack conducted by Hamas against innocent people”. Findings show that 29% think that the attacks were an “understandable act of resistance”, whilst 35% said that they “don’t know”. 

Among the results was that 45% of students believe that anyone visibly displaying Jewish clothing or symbols is likely to face antisemitism, regardless of their position regarding the Israel-Hamas war. 

These findings come amidst the current turmoil faced across universities in the UK, with large numbers of students setting up protest blocks on campus, with allegations of antisemitic rhetoric and intimidation being used by the protestors. 

The survey also found that 38% think that people publicly supporting Israel on campus should expect to face abuse, whilst 31% disagreed. 

StandWithUs UK Executive Director, Isaac Zarfati, said “The survey results confirm what we have been witnessing for a few years: We are in the midst of a historic surge in antisemitism, highlighting a troubling decline in morals and awareness among students – the future leaders of the Western society. It serves as a crucial wake-up call for anyone still unaware of the vital role facts and education must play.” 

There was an alarming trend of answers given by Russell Group university students. 38% of Russell Group students believe October 7th attacks were an act of resistance, in comparison to 29% of overall students who agreed with this statement as well. Furthermore, a shocking 58% of Russell Group students expect visibly Jewish people to face antisemitism, in a significant increase from the 45% of overall students. This trend continues with the final question regarding pro-Israel students on campus, whilst 38% of all students surveyed expect them to face abuse, over half of students from Russell Group universities agreed with this statement. 

Fieldwork was conducted by Savanta on 19-23 April 2024 among 1,024 university students in the UK. 

About StandWithUs UK:

StandWithUs is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organisation that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Founded in 2010, StandWithUs UK has become a recognised support system and leading resource for students on UK campuses. We empower and energise students and communities with leadership training and educational programmes on both school and university campuses. StandWithUs informs through social media, printed materials, digital platforms, film and newsletters. The StandWithUs flagship Emerson Fellowship programme seeks to raise students into future leaders, equipped to stand strong in the face of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. We believe in the right of the Jewish People to self-determination in their historic homeland of Israel. We educate the facts in an unbiased and holistic manner, with an open mind, reflecting on views from all sides of the political, social and humanitarian spectrum whilst promoting peace. StandWithUs UK believe the current discourse surrounding Israel on campus all too often crosses the line between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and the dangerous, mainstream, antisemitic rhetoric which stands contrary to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. We work to educate on that distinction, encourage civil discourse on legitimate criticism of Israel, and to fight antisemitism wherever it emerges.


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