We are extremely pleased to note that the Office for Students, the independent regulator of Higher Education, has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. This definition has been endorsed by the vast majority of the Jewish community including by UJS, the representative body of Jewish students.
It is imperative that in a time of rising hate crime, Universities have the tools to be able to tackle antisemitism. Racism against Jewish people has many different faces; from Holocaust inversion to the insinuation that Jewish people have disproportionate power over the media or the banks. It’s very easy to see a swastika on the wall of a university building and recognise the Nazi symbol as antisemitic, but very often those who use antisemitic rhetoric attempt to veil it as simply criticism of Israel. With this uncertainty comes an increasingly urgent need to recognise contemporary antisemitism for what it is, in order to appropriately tackle it. We are clear that this definition takes no steps to reduce free speech surround the Israel-Palestine debate, and simply ensures that debates of this nature do not stray into antisemitism, as they often can.
We now encourage HE institutions to follow suit and adopt the IHRA definition locally. It is a simple measure that institutions can take in order accommodate Jewish students and stand together against a rising tide of hatred. We thank the Board of Deputies of British Jews for their support in conversations with the Office for Students. Please do not hesitate to contact UJS with further enquiries at [email protected]