Student Union at London University Slammed for Holding Vote Against IHRA Antisemitism Definition on Eve of Holocaust Memorial Day
University College London’s student union was lambasted for holding a vote on whether to reject the IHRA definition of antisemitism on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day and without consulting the college’s Jewish student organization, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
The IHRA definition was officially adopted by UCL in Nov. 2019, to considerable outcry from anti-Israel activists, as it defines hate speech and racism against Israel as antisemitic.
The January 2020 student union vote was on a proposal calling for adherence to a report by the Academic Board Working Group on Racism and Prejudice, which held the IHRA definition was “not fit for purpose within a university setting and has no legal basis for enforcement.”
The proposal was initiated by Students for Justice in Palestine, which regularly engages in hate speech against Jews and Israel.
Samuel Goldstone, 20, of the UCL Jewish Society, said of the vote, “I thought it was absolutely shameful and disgusting that they decided to hold it at that time, and also that they hadn’t invited one member of the [Jewish Society] or one Jewish student to speak on a discussion about antisemitism.”
The Working Group’s assault on the IHRA definition, he said, “doesn’t represent Jewish students at UCL or our interests.”
The proposal was ultimately defeated by a vote of 45% to 32%, with 23% abstaining.
A spokesperson for UCL said that the college stood by its decision to adopt the IHRA definition, and that by adopting it, “UCL has sent a strong message to Jewish students and staff, and the wider Jewish community, that it takes antisemitism seriously and is committed to tackling it.”
“The university recognizes the community’s right to define its own experience of racism, and that we are their allies in fighting it,” the spokesperson said.
The Academic Board is set to meet and vote on the Working Group report on Feb. 10.