Jewish students slam move by Warwick University staff to challenge IHRA

UJS voices its anger after a motion is passed calling for the university to suspend its use of IHRA


The Union of Jewish Students has slammed a decision by the main body representing Warwick University staff to challenge the IHRA definition of antisemitism. 

At a meeting last month, the Warwick Assembly passed a motion calling for the university to suspend its use of IHRA by a 93 per cent majority.

The motion stipulated the university should form a working group that would be responsible for recommending how all forms of racism, including antisemitism, should be handled within the institution. 

It also said that IHRA should not be consulted until the working group reports back to the university on its use by the end of the year. 

Warwick officially adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in October 2020 following a furore over a lecturer who said allegations of Jew-hate within the Labour Party were pushed by the “Israel lobby”.  

The university concluded that the lecturer was not being antisemitic, to the “extreme disappointment” of Jewish student groups. 

In a joint statement with Warwick Jewish Society, UJS condemned the backtrack on IHRA.

The union said: “UJS and Warwick Jewish Society are frustrated and angered by the Warwick University Assembly for passing a motion to challenge the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. 

“How can they claim they want to fulfil their moral duty to protect all members, which includes Jewish students, when this motion clearly disregards the wants and needs of Jewish students? 

“Over 100 higher education institutions, all major UK political parties and 35+ countries have adopted the definition, and we urge the University of Warwick to reaffirm its adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism including its use in disciplinary processes and finally fulfil its duty of care.” 

A spokesperson for the University of Warwick said: "We actively support academic freedom and freedom of speech - they are vital components of who we are and what we represent. That is why we respect the rights of the Assembly (and all University staff) to freely discuss and debate a wide range of issues. This includes putting forward proposals during meetings, which are then voted on by those members who are present.

"The Assembly is not a decision making body but it is empowered to make proposals to the University governing bodies, the Senate and Council. Motions are not binding. 

"Antisemitism is abhorrent and runs contrary to everything we stand for as a University. We remain fully committed to using the IHRA definition of antisemitism, alongside other definitions, in any disciplinary process and when considering any complaint or allegation of antisemitism. Nothing has changed in terms of our approach."

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