Universities accused of using IHRA as ‘tick-box exercise’ while failing to implement its rules

The accusation comes as Queen Mary University of London prepares to give a platform to rapper Lowkey


Leading British universities are adopting IHRA’s definition of antisemitism but failing to enforce its principles, in what campaigners claim is a cynical “tick-box PR exercise”.

The accusation comes as Queen Mary University of London — which has signed up to the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism — prepares to give a platform to anti-Zionist rapper Lowkey and speakers who have praised terrorists.

Glasgow University has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition, yet the complaint of a Jewish student who was smeared as “the Lobby” by an academic has yet to be resolved, more than a year on.

Sheffield Hallam is signed up too, yet gave a lecturer job to an extremist critic of Israel despite claims the appointment creates “a hostile environment for Jews”.

Jewish student leaders are set to talk to Queen Mary leadership over a Socialist Workers Party (SWP) conference to be held on campus in July where speakers who have praised terrorists and blamed Israel for antisemitism will appear.

The university adopted the IHRA definition in October 2020. Asked about the SWP conference, a QM spokesperson stressed its commitment to “free debate and enquiry”.

Due to speak at the event is Lowkey, described by the Board of Deputies as a “conspiracy theorist whose delusional output has long been of concern within the Jewish community”.

Also set to appear is left-winger Tariq Ali, who appeared to blame Israel for antisemitism at a protest last year, saying: “Every time they bomb Gaza, every time they attack Jerusalem — that is what creates antisemitism. Stop the occupation, stop the bombing and casual antisemitism will soon disappear.”

He will appear alongside former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

A further speaker is Shahd Abusalama, a Palestinian academic at Sheffield Hallam University who has praised Jew-killing terrorists as “heroes” and has written that “Zionist lobbies… buy presidents”.

Ms Abusalama, an associate lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, had her teaching suspended earlier this year after she defended a poster that said “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust”.

Despite Sheffield Hallam’s adoption of IHRA, the university ultimately reinstated Ms Abusalama’s teaching and gave her a more secure employment contract.

Ms Abusalama has since attacked the internationally recognised definition as “a tool for suppression and intimidation”.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism told the JC: “Adoption {of the International Definition of Antisemitism] must be more than merely a tick-box PR exercise.
“What is vital is that universities actually apply the definition when allegations of antisemitism arise.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive