UCL academics hit back at move to revoke university’s adoption of IHRA

Staff warn definition is “an important safeguard” amid growing harassment of Jewish students


More than a dozen academics at University College London have criticised their colleagues’ calls for the university to cancel its adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
The group of 19 staff members defended the definition in an open letter to the JC on Wednesday, warning it remains “an important safeguard” amid growing harassment and intimidation of Jewish students.
UCL’s academic board voted this month to advise the university’s governing council to find an alternative definition. 
The body will “now consider this recommendation and will continue to consult and listen to the views of the entire UCL community on this and other issues,” the university said after the vote.
Academics said this week that the decision was guided by a “deeply flawed report, presented as a balanced investigation, but which reads like a partisan piece of advocacy.”
The letter signatories - all academic board members - said the report consulted just two Jewish students and that while it acknowledged “differences of opinion within the Jewish community”, it ignored broad support for the definition among university Jewish societies across the UK.
“UCL’s governing body is not obliged to accept the academic board’s ill-advised recommendation, and we hope that it will instead maintain its commitment to its Jewish students and demonstrate to potential Jewish applicants that UCL values them and will protect them,” they wrote. 
UCL adopted the definition in full in 2019, with the caveats that criticising the Israeli government, holding it to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or taking a particular interest in its policies or actions do not, without additional evidence of antisemitic intent, constitute anti-Jewish racism.
The university said earlier this month the definition was adopted by an "overwhelming majority" of its governing body. "By adopting the IHRA, UCL has sent a strong message that we take antisemitism seriously and are committed to tackling it," it said.

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