Teach children about hate "in infant school" says shadow education secretary

Shadow Education secretary Kate Green put forward the idea during a fringe panel about online hate


Education against antisemitism and online hate should start in infant schools, according to Labour's education spokesman, Kate Green. 

She was taking part in a  fringe debate at this week’s Labour Party conference, on combating online racism and misogyny chaired by the Holocaust Educational Trust’s (HET)  Karen Pollock, which also included Danny Stone, director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, shadow minister for domestic violence Jess Phillips and HET ambassador Gerry Bluer.

The Shadow Education Secretary said it was “vital” that any legislation embedded the need to for schools to encourage all pupils to discuss and evaluate problematic online content from a young age.

 She feared that the Government would instead favour legislation with a “narrow,  legalistic,  ‘what should we outlaw?’  approach.”

Mr Stone said that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)  definition of antisemitism was never designed to be put into legislation such as the Government’s forthcoming Online Harms Bill..

He said the definition of what was anti-Jewish racism was always intended to be a “working definition” because “antisemitism changes, and is flexible.” He said the IHRA definition, with its examples of what might constitute antisemitism, was “a very helpful document – but it is not a panacea.”

Discussing calls by organisations such as the Board of Deputies for the Government to include the IHRA definition in a Bill designed to ensure social media giants take more effective action against online harm, Mr Stone said: “Is it workable for social media companies?

“Actually if you take Facebook for example, they actually do capture a lot of the IHRA definition already.

“There will be difficulties for them applying the double standard on Israel, for example. It is all about context. I don’t think it’s right for the Bill. But I do ultimately think the regulator (Ofcom) should adopt it.”

He revealed his organisation was amongst those to have called for Facebook to ban Holocaust denial from its platform.

Ms Pollock referred to an incident in which  Facebook suspended the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She had challenged a Holocaust denier on social media, using “raw imagery” of victims of the Shoah.

“Some of those images were of nude bodies, and the result was (with ) nudity being an offence meant that she was suspended, but the Holocaust denier was not,” explained Ms Pollock

“When she tried to engage with Facebook on why they had got it wrong, she got absolutely nowhere. Think about how that person felt? The daughter of a survivor trying to defend the truth of what her father had been through. It’s horrifying. ”

Ms Pollock was backed by the whole panel in calling for an Online Harms Bill that reflected “believing in freedom of speech, yet having some form of regulation.”

Ms Phillips called for “huge” fines to levied against social media companies which did not comply with rules to tackle online harms.

Asked about Labour members sharing antisemitic ideas online, Ms Phillips stressed the need for “zero tolerance” and a “much quicker, more clean cut process” in dealing with complaints.

But she added: “I do believe people need to be given the opportunity of a way back, an education.”

Addressing Holocaust denial online, HET ambassador Gerry Bluer said: “You can’t debate the murder of six million Jewish women and children.

“That isn’t an area where free speech provides provisions  for you to debate on that.  It’s fact. You only have to engage with Jewish groups to realise  how incredibly antisemitic that is anyway. “


Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive