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July 7, 2021 4:05 pm

University of Warwick Faculty Vote Against Antisemitism Definition Draws ‘Frustration’ From Jewish Campus Groups

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

University of Warwick Students’ Union. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Ben Firshman

Two Jewish-student advocacy groups denounced a resolution by faculty at the UK’s University of Warwick challenging the use of a leading definition of antisemitism as a tool in handling cases of alleged bigotry at the school.

In late June, the University of Warwick Assembly, which represents academic staff, passed a motion demanding that the university stop using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, the Jewish News reported.

It called for a working group to make recommendations on dealing with allegations of racism, urging the university to suspend use of the IHRA definition until those findings were made.

Warwick faculty supporting the motion charged it with “eliding” antisemitism and anti-Zionism,” the outlet said.

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The IHRA defines antisemitism as a “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” adding that “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.”

In its list of contemporary examples of antisemitism, the IHRA includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” among other items, while noting that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Warwick J-Soc said that the motion “disregards the wants and needs of Jewish students.”

“USJ and Warwick J-Soc are frustrated and angered at the University of Warwick Assembly’s for passing a motion to challenge the IHRA working definition of antisemitism,” the statement said, noting that over 100 higher education institutions and dozens of countries have adopted the definition.

The Warwick motion challenging the IHRA definition passed with 93% of the 200 faculty in attendance voting in its favor.

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