Tony Greenstein | 15 October 2022 | Post Views:

British Academics are Incapable of Joined Up Thinking. Why would a Government which wants to Deport Black and Muslim Refugees to Rwanda be concerned about anti-Semitism?

The decision of Aberdeen University to reject the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism is extremely welcome and long overdue. In fact, as Sir Stephen Sedley, the Jewish former Court of Appeal Judge wrote, the IHRA ‘fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite.’. In any case who has heard of a definition that is over 500 words long?

It should be a no brainer that a ‘definition’, 7 of whose 11 examples are about Israel and Zionism is not about anti-Semitism but something else entirely. The IHRA itself is quite explicit as to what its real agenda is when it says that

Manifestations [of anti-Semitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity

The idea that Jews form a collectivity is borrowed from the International Jewish Conspiracy theory which posited that Jews, wherever they live, form a separate political entity. In other words the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is itself anti-Semitic! And if Jews do form a collectivity then how is that compatible with the 11th illustration of anti-Semitism which states that ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’ is anti-Semitic? Either Israel is a Jewish collective or it isn’t.

Calling Israel a ‘racist endeavour’ is  anti-Semitic according to the IHRA yet how else do you describe the practice of reserving housing only for Jews?

These are just some of the internal contradictions of the IHRA yet academics seem to have difficulty grasping the purpose and intent of the IHRA and what the government’s agenda is in trying to impose it on the Universities.

It was in October 2021 that the then Education Secretary and former toilet salesman, Gavin Williamson, wrote to universities in England and Wales threatening their funding if they did not adopt the IHRA. In response a group of prominent lawyers including two former Lord Justices of Appeal, Sir Anthony Hooper and Sir Stephen Sedley wrote that the ‘illustrations of anti-Semitism’ which accompanied the IHRA definition ‘have been widely used to suppress or avoid criticism of the state of Israel.’

Aberdeen University

After a two year consultation Aberdeen University decided instead to adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism, which unlike the IHRA actually is about anti-Semitism, as opposed to anti-Zionism.

The JDA, despite its faults, especially its Section B, makes it clear that anti-Zionism, BDS and support for equality between Jews and Palestinians in a single state are not anti-Semitic whereas the IHRA holds that criticism of the Jewish state as racist is anti-Semitic.

The JDA definition of anti-Semitism is clear and unequivocal.

Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish)

Compare that to the 38 word definition of anti-Semitism in the IHRA which is a model of obscurity and obfuscation.

“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.”

IHRA definition of antisemitism

The above definition is so useless that even the Zionists have abandoned it in favour of the 11 illustrations of ‘anti-Semitism’ by themselves. The IHRA defines anti-Semitism as a ‘certain perception’ but avoids telling us what that ‘certain perception’ is.

In fact anti-Semitism isn’t just a perception but a practice – violence, discrimination, hostility etc. And if this perception of anti-Semitism ‘may be expressed as hatred of Jews’ then what else might it be expressed as? Anti-Zionism?

Even stranger is a definition of anti-Semitism that applies to both Jews and non-Jews (i.e. everyone!). In short the 38 word definition is  totally meaningless yet prestigious universities like Oxford and Cambridge have gone along with this gobbldydook without having the courage or honesty to call it what it is – a load of junk.

Dissident Zionist and Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman, the Emeritus Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Buckingham, wrote an excellent article for The Independent back in July 2019 This Labour Party row will not be settled by relying on a flawed and faulty definition of antisemitism. It was because of this that Aldedrman, a columnist for 14 years on the Jewish Chronicle was banned by the Editor of the Jewish Council from its columns. See Former Columnist and Historian of the Jewish Community, Professor Geoffrey Alderman, is Banned by Jewish Chronicle Editor Stephen Pollard.

Alderman wrote in the above article that ‘The 11 examples embed numerous internal contradictions’ before describing the IHRA as ‘deeply-flawed and much misunderstood’.

When the IHRA was adopted by the IHRA in Bucharest in 2016 the forum decided against including the illustrations in the definition but the IHRA Secretariat, by a sleight of hand, has overturned this decision and refused to clarify whether they are part of the definition despite numerous requests to come clean.

The fact that the IHRA Secretariat feel the need to practice the dark arts of deception suggests that its main purpose is not so much defining anti-Semitism as conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

Jamie Stein-Warner, a Ph D student at Oxford University reported in International Organisation Is Misrepresenting Its Own Definition of Antisemitism that:

Across the world, pro-Israel lobbyists are promoting a highly problematic list of 11 examples of purported antisemitism. These examples have been used to shield Israel from accountability for its human rights violations.

To push these examples on international organisations, governments and civil society, Israel’s advocates have falsely depicted them as part of the IHRA definition.

In fact, as this report irrefutably documents, IHRA’s decision-making body did not adopt any of the examples as part of its definition.

Shockingly, the report shows how not just pro-Israel campaigners but even senior IHRA officials have effectively misled the public about the examples.

The impact of this misrepresentation has been significant as the examples, misrepresented as the IHRA definition, have been used to stigmatise and stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.

Unsurprisingly the decision of Aberdeen University has provoked fury from the usual suspects. The notoriously racist and Islamaphobic Campaign Against Anti-Semitism accused Aberdeen University of taking a “scandalous position”.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism which urges support for the IHRA specialises in targeting academics

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities argued that the IHRA definition states “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic” in an attempt to prove that it doesn’t prevent criticism of Israel. However they ignored the fact that Israel is not like any other country.

Israel has maintained for over half a century a military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. Israel is uniquely an ethno-nationalist state, which is why White Supremacists love it. Israel grants a right of ‘return’ to Jews who’ve never lived there whilst denying the Palestinian refugees it expelled any such right.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who introduced the 2018 Jewish Nation State Law was explicit when he said that Israel is ‘not a state of all its citizens’ but only of its Jewish citizens.’

Stephen Sedley in Defining Anti-Semitism wrote that the IHRA:

Assume(s) that Israel, apart from being a Jewish state, is a country like any other and so open only to criticism resembling such criticism as can be made of other states, placing the historical, political, military and humanitarian uniqueness of Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestine beyond permissible criticism (it)… bristles with contentious assumptions about the racial identity of Jews, assumptions contested by many diaspora Jews but on which both Zionism and anti-Semitism fasten, and about Israel as the embodiment of a collective right of Jews to self-determination.

The Zionists are not happy with the decision of Aberdeen. The Jewish settler news agency Arutz Sheva described how

The selection of the JDA was applauded by various anti-Israel and BDS groups, including the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice for Labour whilst the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities accused Aberdeen University of “indulging in second-order antisemitism.

The Aberdeen University decision should be used by all academics who value free speech and academic freedom to roll back the Tory imposed IHRA. One of the problems of academics, apart from their natural timidity, is that they aren’t very good at joined up thinking.

It doesn’t take much intelligence to work out that a Tory government that has pioneered the Rwandan deportation scheme for non-White refugees (not Ukrainians) and continues to demonise asylum seekers is probably not interested in fighting any form of racism, anti-Semitism included.

In fact prominent Tories such as Boris Johnson, in his 72 Virgins novel, and Jacob Rees-Mogg have repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements.

Michael Berkowitz of University College London described how Mogg had attacked 2 fellow Jewish Tories, Oliver Letwin and John Bercow, as “Illuminati who are taking the powers to themselves.” Berkowitz observed how Mogg,

‘while studiously avoiding the word “Jew”, (he) has exhumed, embellished, and rebroadcast one of the most poisonous antisemitic canards in all of history.’

Anti-Semitic Extracts from Boris Johnson’s 72 Virgins novel

Yet strangely enough none of the Zionist organisations that were so willing to criticise Jeremy Corbyn for ‘anti-Semitism’, despite him never having made an anti-Semitic comment, had anything to say about either Johnson or Rees-Mogg’s genuine anti-Semitism.

The reasons for this are not hard to find. Zionism has never opposed genuine anti-Semitism. What it is concerned about is rebranding opposition to Israel’s own racist practices as anti-Semitism.

CAA Pamphlet Attacking British Muslims as Anti-Semitic Uses Picture of one person to smear a whole ethnic group – this is usually called racism

The Racism of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

One of the most prominent of the Zionist organisations in the anti-Corbyn campaign was the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. In its Report British Muslims and Anti-Semitism (the full version of which is no longer on the CAA’s website) they deliberately did their best to stir up Jewish-Muslim tensions. Accompanied by an openly racist figure of a Muslim the CAA wrote:

‘the gradual buildup of understanding and friendship between Britain’s Jews and Muslims has been utterly eclipsed by growing antisemitism amongst British Muslims. On every single count, British Muslims were more likely by far than the general British population to hold deeply antisemitic views. It is clear that many British Muslims reserve a special hatred for British Jews, rating Jews much less favourably than people of other religions or no religion, yet astonishingly British Muslims largely do not recognise antisemitism as a major problem.

It has long been suspected that sections of the British Muslim population harboured hatred towards British Jews. This survey goes some way to identifying pockets of prejudice, but it also shows that the prejudice is horrifyingly widespread.’

The CAA indulged in a good example of racial profiling, publishing a racist silhouette of the ‘typical’ Muslim male. Just imagine that a Muslim organisation had published a similar figure of the ‘typical’ Jewish man. The air would be thick with accusations of anti-Semitism and all the usual culprits, would have joined in the hue and cry.

The CAA waged a vicious lying campaign against Palestinian student Malaka Shwaikh – even the Daily Mail and Express apologised for repeating the lies but not the CAA

The fact that the CAA was one of the 2 complainants to the EHRC, which accused the Labour Party under Corbyn of harassment of Jews, speaks volumes to Establishment hypocrisy.

On the basis of a quote from  David Ben Gurion about how the Arabs didn’t see why they should pay the penalty for Auschwitz the CAA accused her of exonerating Hitler for the Holocaust – they hurriedly took the post down when they realised their mistake

The IHRA has been used repeatedly to target dissident academics and professionals from Professor David Miller, who was dismissed by Bristol University, to Shahd Abusalama, who was suspended by Sheffield Hallam University. The hypocrisy of the Tories, who complain about the threat to free speech on campus whilst at the same time pushing a definition of anti-Semitism whose sole purpose is to restrict free speech on Palestine is breathtaking. Yet the University College Union, which in theory is opposed to the IHRA, has said almost nothing about this threat to their members.

In December 2021 the CAA targeted Franck Magennis, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers for having tweeted that

“Zionism is a kind of racism. It is essentially colonial. It has manifested in an apartheid regime calling itself ‘the Jewish state’ that dominates non-Jews, and particularly Palestinians.You can’t practice anti-racism at the same time as identifying with, or supporting, Zionism.”

The CAA targeted Sheffield Hallam lecturer Shahd Abusalama

There couldn’t have been a more straightforward example of an attempt to suppress political speech yet the CAA claimed that it was empowered to do so by the IHRA.

Others targeted by the CAA included academics such as Rebecca Gould of Bristol University, Professor Moshe Machover of King’s College University, Dr Goldie Osuri and Professor Virinder Kalra of Warwick Universitys.

Unfortunately Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign has long given up the fight against the IHRA since anything which brings it into conflict with the British political establishment terrifies it.

It is essential that both academics and students who are serious about getting Israeli Apartheid off campus and opening up the debate about the persecution and oppression of the Palestinians should need to campaign to reverse the universities option of the IHRA.

Gideon Falter has no problem serving alongside fellow racists in  JNF-UK

The CAA described the Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism as a “wrecking document intended to undermine the globally-recognised” IHRA definition. In other words they had no substantive criticism to make of it other than its intended effect.

JNF-UK’s racist Chairman, Gideon Falter

This should be of no great surprise. The Chair of the CAA is a well-known racist Gideon Falter, who is also Vice-Chair of the Jewish National Fund – UK. The JNF is committed to ensuring that non-Jews in Israel have no access to ‘Jewish’ land, which makes up 93% of the Israeli state. Arabs are even forbidden from working on that land. The JNF is the mainstay of Israeli Apartheid.

Original Letter to the Guardian 7 October 2010

In October 2010 there was an interesting debate in the letters columns of the Guardian between myself and the JNF Chair, Samuel Hayek. Hayek was shown to be a liar when he claimed that

The Lying Letter of Samuel Hayek Replying to Us

Our environmental and humanitarian work is not based on any political or religious affiliation, but rather on supporting Israel and its population – whatever their background.

Letters in response to Hayek’s lying letter to the Guardian from myself and Barry Stierer

responded pointing out that Hayek was

either being disingenuous or he has not read the JNF’s own entry on the Charity Commission website, which states that its objects include the “such charitable purposes as benefit persons of Jewish religion, race or origin”. (the link is now broken as JNF UK amended the entry)

UK JNF’s entry in the Charity Commission register made it clear that the JNF only benefits Jews in Israel thus proving Hayek to be a liar

Even the Board of Deputies in January 2022 found Hayek and the JNF’s Treasurer Gary Mond to be too openly racist to work with.

The ‘left’ Zionist critics of JNF-UK Chair Samuel Hayek ignore the fact that the JNF is a racist, ethnic cleaning organisation

Jewish News reported that 46 Deputies had signed an open letter calling for Hayek’s removal as Chair of JNF-UK after he claimed that as a result of Muslim immigration

“maybe in 10 years, maybe less” Jews would no longer be able to live in the UK…. The evidence is the number of immigrants to England.

Asked whether he was referring specifically to issues around Muslim immigration, Hayek said: “You are not wrong.”

Hayek also adopted the far-right Great Replacement Theory claiming that in the UK

“the process is the white Christian majority is shrinking. It shrinks to a degree where there is a point it cannot protect itself anymore.”

Gary Mond, Senior Vice President of the BOD subscribes to the neo-Nazi Great Replacement Theory

The Great Replacement Theory which holds that Muslims are replacing the White population of Europe is a neo-Nazi conspiracy theory. It was cited by Robert Bowers who murdered 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He believed that Jews were instrumental in the plot to replace White people in America with Latino immigrants. Even the Jewish Chronicle accepted that this theory was anti-Semitic however Falter has no problem serving as Vice-Chair with a Jewish neo-Nazi.

The JNF’s racist Treasurer Gary Mond

Another racist trustee of JNF-UK who Falter keeps company with is the Gary Mond. Mond was suspended from his position as Senior Vice-President of the BOD after it was revealed that he had ‘liked’ statuses by far-right Islamaphobe Pamela Geller, who was banned from entering the UK in 2013 preventing her speaking at a rally of the fascist English Defence League.

Mond said of Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 election victory over Marine Le Pen in France that France had picked “submission over freedom.” The Jewish News included a Facebook post from Mond saying:

Pamela Gella and Robert Spencer

Gary Mond of the JNF had no problem  ‘liking’ the tweets of Jewish racist Pamela Geller (left)

“We just have to hope that our leaders wake up to the fact that all civilisation-west and east, American, Russian, Chinese, Israeli, whatever – is at war with these evil bastards, and I have to say it at war with Islam. And, just as Islam has lost before in history, it will lose again.”

Responding to concerns about an increase in Muslim MPs Mond wrote that ‘“When this happens – and the odds are that it will – the Britain that we know will be gone forever.”

None of this bothered Falter in the slightest yet the British media continue to quote from the CAA uncritically without even bothering to do the slightest due diligence.

Gideon Falter, Chair of the racist Campaign Against Antisemitism gives his support to Hindu chauvinists who defend Caste Discrimination –

Falter is an unreconstructed racist. He was reported by the Milli Gazette the main Indian Muslim English paper to have attended a meeting in the House of Commons in 2018 called by racist Hindutva groups in Britain who were campaigning to ensure that discrimination on the grounds of caste was not made illegal under the Equality Act 2010. Although the Act did include caste discrimination as an example of racial discrimination the Tories have never implemented this provision. The Milli Gazette reported that:

Britain’s most racist MP, Bob Blackman is a patron of the CAA and supporter of Hindutva

At a meeting in the House of Commons about the Caste law, attended among others by Satish Sharma and Conservative Party donor Lord Jitesh Gadhia. Bob Blackman (the rabidly pro-Hindutva Tory MP from Harrow East) welcomed Gideon Falter, the CEO of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA). Falter responded by assuring the meeting that he and his supporters would do all they could to help eradicate the ‘duty’ on the government to make Caste an aspect of race in the Equality Act of 2010. Lord Jitesh Gadhia and Bob Blackman then called for the need to learn from the way the CAA had got the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism passed in the Labour Party.

Here we see the real side of the CAA. Caste discrimination in India against the Dalits (Untouchables) is supported by the rabidly racist Indian Government under Narendra Modi.

The National Geographic, in India’s “Untouchables” Face Violence, Discrimination described how

More than 160 million people in India are considered “Untouchable”—people tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure, less than human.

Human rights abuses against these people, known as Dalits, are legion. A random sampling of headlines in mainstream Indian newspapers tells their story: “Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers”; “Dalit tortured by cops for three days”; “Dalit ‘witch’ paraded naked in Bihar”; “Dalit killed in lock-up at Kurnool”; “7 Dalits burnt alive in caste clash”; “5 Dalits lynched in Haryana”; “Dalit woman gang-raped, paraded naked”; “Police egged on mob to lynch Dalits”.

“Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls,” said Smita Narula, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, and author of Broken People: Caste Violence Against India’s “Untouchables.” ….

India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.

Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits, according to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference that took place May 16 to 18 in Vancouver, Canada.

Despite this Falter was happy to add the CAA’s voice in support of caste discrimination remaining legal in Britain. Why? Because it is similar to the discrimination that the JNF practises. India is Israel’s largest arms market. There is a close identity between the ideology of Hindutva and Zionism. Both believe in an ethno nationalist state and India is a long way down the road to becoming a second Israel with Kashmir having become the equivalent of Israel’s West Bank.

I have concentrated on the CAA, a vile Zionist organisation that sprang up in the middle of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, when 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, were murdered by Israel in Gaza, to show that these Zionists are not concerned by anti-Semitism but are motivated by their desire to support and defend Israel’s war crimes.

Of course the criticism of the JNF by the BOD and liberal Zionists is hypocritical. What matters is not the individual racism of JNF trustees but the fact that the organisation itself is the main architect of Israeli apartheid. The JNF is the oldest Zionist organisation, having been founded by Theodor Herzl in 1901.

So we should salute the actions of Aberdeen University in rejecting the fake IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism. The fact that the openly racist and Islamaphobic CAA seeks to implement it against critics of Israel is in itself proof that the purpose of the IHRA is not to combat anti-Semitism but to redefine anti-Zionists and critics of Israeli Apartheid as anti-Semitic. Jewish critics included.

The task of those who oppose Zionism and support the Palestinians is to campaign to get universities such as Oxford and Cambridge to retract their adoption of the IHRA. If they really need a definition of anti-Semitism then the JDA is a far more suitable definition.

Tony Greenstein

University of Aberdeen votes against using IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

Billy Briggs, the Ferret, 9 October 2022

Aberdeen University has rejected a “working definition” of antisemitism as recommended by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance for governments and organisations around the world to adopt.

After a two-year consultation, the university has adopted the Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism (JDA) instead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) guidance.

The move has been welcomed by a human rights group and a professor at Aberdeen University who argued that parts of the IHRA guidance “define antisemitism as any critique of the state of Israel”. He claimed this would have posed a “real threat” to his teaching.

However, the Campaign Against Antisemitism has accused Aberdeen University of taking a “scandalous position” by not adopting the IHRA definition. The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities pointed out that the IHRA definition states “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.

Supporters of the IHRA definition say it is key in fighting hatred of Jews around the world.

Critics of the IHRA definition argue that it stifles free speech relating to criticism of actions and policies by the Israeli government.

The university’s Race Definitions Task and Finish Group (the Group) had proposed in May 2021 that the IHRA definition should be adopted, according to an internal university document seen by The Ferret.

However at a meeting of the university’s senate in September 2021, concerns were raised that the IHRA guidance “impinged too heavily on academic freedom and the work of academics”.

The principal concerns were it was “too vague” and “narrow in scope” and “does not serve to tackle discrimination against Jewish people”. It was also perceived as posing a “threat to academic freedom”.

The Group said: “It was noted that 100 UK universities had adopted the definition, however it was also noted that there had been recent high-profile cases which had resulted in academics losing their jobs, leading the group to discuss whether the definition had become ‘weaponised’ in the sector.”

As a result of those concerns, the IHRA recommendation was withdrawn and it was proposed the JDA should be adopted instead.

The Group noted that the JDA — which was published on March 25 2021 — was “developed largely as a response to the IHRA definition and to counteract what some saw as the failings of the IHRA definition, namely that it is said to hamper free speech and focus on the Israeli/Palestine political issues”.

The JDA provided “a fairer and clearer definition and set of guidelines” than those presented in the IHRA definition, the Group stated.

The IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism — which is non-legally binding — states: “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.”

The IHRA says that manifestations of antisemitism include “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”.

The JDA says that evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state is not antisemitic. “This includes its institutions and founding principles. It also includes its policies and practices, domestic and abroad, such as the conduct of Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, the role Israel plays in the region, or any other way in which, as a state, it influences events in the world,” the JDA says.

Welcoming the decision, the Aberdeen Branch of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “By rejecting the IHRA definition in favour of the JDA, they have sent a clear message of political impartiality and opposed the undermining of academic freedom to expose human rights abuses.

“We urge all the institutions and organisations who have adopted the IHRA definition to review their stance and reject this shameful political attempt to undermine the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel and criminalise those who advocate for Palestinian rights!”

Professor David Anderson, chair in the Anthropology of the North at Aberdeen University, also welcomed the move and said: “I am so relieved that the senate did not rubber-stamp the management proposal to introduce the IHRA definition. We all stand firm against antisemitism and injustice. The fact that parts of the definition define antisemitism as any critique of the state of Israel posed a real threat to my teaching.”

He added: “In my module on indigenous rights I sometimes ask the students to think through the situation of Palestinians in comparison to those suffering oppression from settler states around the world.

“Even an exercise like this, where there could be arguments for and against would likely be prosecuted under this law. Definitions like this have no place in a university. They stifle creativity and debate.”

Robbie Uriarte, a fourth year student and member of Aberdeen University Jewish Students’ Society, was involved in the consultation. He said: “We are delighted by the university’s decision to adopt the JDA definition of antisemitism. The university has worked closely with the community throughout the decision-making process. This decision demonstrates an ongoing commitment by the university to tackling antisemitism in all its forms and ensuring the University of Aberdeen continues to be a safe and welcoming environment for Jewish students.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said the Jerusalem Declaration is a “wrecking document intended to undermine the globally-recognised” IHRA definition.

They added: “The university is the only such institution in the country to take this scandalous position. In rejecting the definition that has consensus support across the Jewish community in favour of the fringe and controversial Jerusalem Declaration, the university has done the opposite of standing with British Jews and Jewish students.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities said: “If the critics of the IHRA Definition (originally devised by the EU Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia) had taken the trouble to read it, they would see that far from ‘defining antisemitism as any critique of the state of Israel’, it explicitly says the opposite – the second paragraph begins ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.’”

The spokesperson added: “Unfortunately however there is no shortage of antisemitism of all kinds on campuses, and universities and their staff should be at the forefront of stamping it out. If they claim to oppose racism but tolerate antisemitism of any kind, they are simply proving David Baddiel’s thesis that ‘Jews don’t count’ and indulging in second-order antisemitism.”

A spokesperson for Aberdeen University said the JDA helps to “identify, address and raise awareness of antisemitism and how it can manifest”, adding it was adopted following an extensive consultation with the “wellbeing of Jewish students” at the core of discussions.

The spokesperson added: “Working with the Aberdeen University Jewish Society and the Palestinian Society, University Senate and other staff and students, it was agreed that the university should adopt a definition of antisemitism to support its Jewish community but that wider options than the IHRA definition should be considered.

“Further consultation indicated that the JDA definition was the preferred option, noting that it offers a clear and fair definition which protects critical open debate.”

IHRA did not reply to our request for a comment.

The IHRA grew out of a task force established by Sweden, Britain and the US in 1998 to promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance. Its membership today comprises 29 European countries plus Israel, the US, Canada, Australia and Argentina.

IHRA policy is agreed at biannual meetings attended by delegates from each member country.

Thirty-eight nations have adopted or endorsed the IHRA working definition of antisemitism including the UK and US and it has been championed by various Jewish and pro-Israeli groups.

In 2019 an author of the IHRA definition — Kenneth Stern — accused right-wing Jews of using it to suppress free speech.

In January this year Palestinian lecturer, Shahd Abusalama, was suspended from teaching by Sheffield Hallam University over an anti-Israel social media post. She was accused of breaching the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which is endorsed by the university, but reinstated a few weeks later after an investigation into antisemitism was dropped.

The Ferret understands that six higher education institutions (HEIs) in Scotland have adopted the IHRA guidance. They include the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Seven HEIs have the definition under active consideration, while six have reached the view that their existing policies on equality, diversity and antiracism are sufficient.

A spokesperson for Universities Scotland said:

“There is no place for antisemitism in Scotland’s universities. There is no place for faith or race-based hate, discrimination or harassment of any kind in Scottish higher education. All institutions have policies in place that prohibit antisemitism and provide for disciplinary sanctions in cases where it occurs in the university community.”

The Scottish Government formally adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in June 2017.

While it is not legally binding, the Scottish Government encourages publicly funded bodies to similarly adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, “noting however that it is up to these bodies to make this decision for themselves”.

The UK Government has also adopted the IHRA guidance.

Earlier this year, a Jewish advisory body said that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain reached a record high in 2021, driven by reaction to a rise in violence in Israel and Gaza.

The annual report by the Community Security Trust (CST), which advises Britain’s estimated 280,000 Jews on security matters, found there had been 2255 anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2021, a rise of 34% from the previous year.

Posted by Tony Greenstein at 04:46  

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