Bristol University adopts IHRA antisemitism definition after row

The institution appeared poised to reject the definition's 11 examples of how attacks on Israel can be antisemitic


Bristol University has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism after a row.

The university adopted the definition after it became embroiled in a row for initially refusing to adopt IHRA's 11 examples of antisemitism, including how attacks on Israel can cross into Jew-hate.

The university's 100-member senate removed the examples and then passed the amended version of the definition to the board of trustees for adoption, prompting accusations it was ignoring its Jewish students.

The university's Jewish Society (JSoc) staged a protest outside the senate on November 22, as it met to discuss the definition.

Daniel Kosky, UJS campaigns officer, said UJS and the university's JSoc were pleased the university had now "listened to their Jewish students and adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full".

He said: "The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents, and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism.

"We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases. We look forward to working with the university in other ways to tackle antisemitism on campus. It is also welcome that the university plan to work with other minority groups regarding definitions of other forms of racism.

"We would like to thank Bristol Students’ Union for their support in ensuring this definition was adopted by the university and those who stood with us in urging the university to take this step."

A university spokesperson said: "The University of Bristol has adopted in full the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

"We will also start to consult on the adoption of additional definitions relating to other minority groups that may also feel vulnerable to discrimination and hatred.

"All such definitions will be applied by the university in a manner which his consistent with our legally-binding commitments to freedom of speech and to the rights of all students and staff to discuss difficult and sensitive topics, provided that this right is exercised responsibly, within the law, and with respect for others who may have differing views.

"We take this opportunity to restate that there is no place for any racism, bullying or discrimination at the University of Bristol and that this should be a place where all feel safe, welcomed and respected, of gender, gender identity, religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, age or social background."

It comes after University College London adopted the definition in full last week. The government wrote to all UK universities in March, saying adopting the IHRA definition "shows that an institution and its senior leaders are serious about ensuring their campuses are tolerant environments where ideas and debate can flourish but persecution can never take hold".

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