British University Union Votes Against Using IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

March 12, 2019

Leeds University Union, part of the University of Leeds in England voted against moving forward in using the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism on campus and its full examples. A meeting March 11, which discussed how they could strengthen the university experience, progressed into a debate about how to handle anti-Semitism on campus.

“Every student agreed anti-Semitism was unacceptable,” the statement written by the student union said. “However, there was debate both for and against adopting all of the examples listed with the IHRA definition.”

A panel of 15 students voted during the forum: 10 voted for and five against. 12 votes were required for the idea to pass or fail. The next step in the process is to take the idea to referendum, “should the proposer wish to.”

The statement on the British university’s website said in order for an idea to move forward, 75% of the student panel needs to vote yes.

Leeds Jewish Society attended the forum and was “incredibly disappointed that a motion on LUU combating anti-Semitism did not pass.”

“The motion is about marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, ensuring Sabbatical officers have the training on tackling anti-Semitism and adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism (used by the Jewish community and adopted by the government, NUS, Conservative and Labour parties and over 100 local councils),” the group said on Twitter.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism includes some examples of anti-Israel criticism but states that criticism of Israel that is comparable to the rhetoric of any other country does not constitute anti-Semitism.

“We will not cower. Jewish students have a right to feel safe on campus. And if you do not, please know both JSoc and UJS [Union of Jewish Students] are here to support you- feel free to drop us a message.”

The Journal has reached out to Leeds Jewish Society and Leeds University Union for comment.

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