After a very successful year UJS has relaunched the campaign for universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism across the UK and Ireland.Many institutions have already adopted; however, the next step is about implementation and education. If you are a Jewish student on a campus which has adopted the definition and want to get involved in the next step of the campaign contact Guy, Head of Campaigns.
UJS's criteria for adoption is three simple and clear steps universities must take. 1. It must be public on their website (this demonstrates to Jewish students that they are openly committed to tackling antisemitism on campus). 2. It must include all the examples of antisemitism which are a part of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. 3. Universities must commit to using the definition as a supporting document within their complaints processes (this is key as it is important for staff dealing with complaints and incidents to understand what antisemitism is).
On 30th November 2021 UJS met with Universities Scotland and several University Secretaries to discuss the importance of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and how their institutions can further support Jewish students.
On 15th November 2021 UJS confirmed Bournemouth University as the 100th University in the UK and Ireland to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. This is an incredible milestone and we will
continue to fight for all universities to adopt this crucial definition.
On Wednesday 10th November 2021, the Office for Students released a list of their providers who have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. This follows our campaign launch in 2019 where only 28 institutions had adopted at that time.
UJS released a statement thanking the Department for Education (DfE) and the Office for Students (OfS), for releasing a list of their providers who have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. See full statement below:
‘We want to thank the Department for Education (DfE) and the Office for Students (OfS), for releasing a list of their providers who have adopted the International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Since the launch of our campaign in 2019, UJS and Jewish students have been campaigning tirelessly for universities to adopt this definition.
It is great to see this significant increase and we look forward to working with the institutions which are not yet on our list. Adopting the IHRA definition is the first step in combating antisemitism
on campus and ensuring Jewish students are supported and confident in reporting antisemitism.’
On Tuesday 19th October 2021, UJS and NUS Scotland hosted a session for all Student Association presidents to discuss the importance of the IHRA definition and how they can support Jewish students.
On 11th October 2021 UJS sent a letter to all Education ministers of the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senedd, Northern Irish Assembly and the Irish Oireachtas; asking them to join their Jewish students and call on their Higher Education Institutes to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
On 15th September 2021 UJS sent a follow up to all universities in Scotland and Wales who still have not adopted the IHRA definition, asking them for an update on the process. It is critical that institutions understand the importance of the definition
On 13th September 2021, Danny Stone MBE, Chief Executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, gave oral evidence at the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill Committee. He expresses the importance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of antisemitism, and explains how the definition is a tool for people to use when trying to understand what antisemitism is, and how it may manifest in a modern context.
“It was created to try and bring uniformity…helps bring a standard of understanding”
“It doesn’t actually block people from say anything, it’s an advisory tool”
On 10th September 2021, Gavin Williamson, Education Minister, welcomed the increased number of institutions who have adopted the IHRA definition, at the Universities UK annual conference: "The dreadful spike in antisemitic incidents on campus earlier this year demonstrates just how important this is and it goes without saying that there is simply no excuse for antisemitism or any other forms of racism anywhere but least of all in a university.”
On 10th June 2021 UJS sent a letter to all Vice-Chancellors in Scotland and Wales, asking if they had adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, or if they were planning to. Many of the institutions failed to respond, and out of those who did reply said they were deliberating the decision, or their sufficient policies were ‘good enough’.
On the 22nd January 2021 , nearly 100 Jewish student leaders wrote to the Guardian newspaper to say: "it is time for a discussion of the IHRA definition and its adoption by British universities to reflect the lived realities of Jewish students. Retired judges, activists based in the Middle East and far-left non-Jewish academics are not on the frontline enduring antisemitism on campus – we are."
On 21st December 2020, the University of Oxford adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full, joining the growing list of UK universities, along with the University of Cambridge. This should be an example to all other higher education institutes of the importance of adopting this definition.
In December 2020 The Community Security Trust released a report titled Campus Antisemitism in Britain 2018-2020. In the previous two academic years CST saw 123 antisemetic incidents. They have made a number of recommendations to universities, one being the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. This reaffirms the hard work both UJS, J-Socs and Jewish students do on campus.
On 9th of October 2020 Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, wrote to all educational institutions registered to the OFS to demand that they adopt the IHRA definition by Christmas 2020.
UJS has been working with Members of Parliaments who have repeatedly raised this issue with Government Ministers resulting in a Westminster Hall debate on the 6th of October.
We know Jewish students play the biggest role and therefore we need Jewish students across the country to be putting pressure on their university management. We thank the students that have worked so hard to get this definition adopted on their campuses and we are continuously working with students on the ground to combat antisemitism.
After a Freedom of Information request campaign and investigation by UJS, on the 30th September 2020 UJS announced that only 28 out of 133 Higher education institutions had adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The adoption of this definition is the first step to ensuring that Jewish students are protected, it is outrageous that after multiple government interventions only 1 in 5 have so far adopted it. UJS saw communal and national coverage of this, including Jewish News , Jewish Chronicle and the Telegraph.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of antisemitism is the definition that the British Jewish community use to define what antisemitism is. It is not a legally binding document and has been adopted by over 30 countries across the world, the United Nations and European Union. Within the UK it has been adopted by all major political parties, the UK government, Welsh Senedd, Scottish Parliament and Northern Irish Assembly.
It was created from the working definition of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. In 2004 the EUMC reported the changing nature of antisemitism across Europe and that it wasn’t being properly detected. The purpose of introducing the definition is for institutions, organisations, practitioners and the general public to understand how antisemitism can arise in a modern context.
‘Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities’
To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:
Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.