Warwick University's vice-chancellor has said it decided not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism because does not offer “any added value”.
In a letter to the president of the university’s Jewish Israeli Society, Angus Taylor, and Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Fishel Cohen, Prof Stuart Croft said the university would not “formally adopt individual definitions of specific forms of discriminatory behaviour... to adopt one would inevitably lead to the adoption of a whole series of such definitions.”
In the letter, Prof Stuart pointed to new university principles which “we at Warwick have taken considerable time to consult with our staff, students and other to develop”.
The first two of those principles – quoted in the letter – are “we treat everyone with respect” and “we do not tolerate discrimination”.
Mr Taylor called the decision a “shameful abdication of its responsibilities towards Jewish students".
He added: “Instead of heeding the Government’s advice and adopting the internationally-recognised definition, they have instead invented their own pseudo-definition with no consultation from Jewish students at Warwick.
“We are deeply disappointed with this decision and call on the University to reverse it without delay.”
Prof Stuart also claimed that the university would be “mindful” of the IHRA definition, among other definitions of hate directed at other minorities, when considering how they “may help inform future policy development.”
When asked to comment, a university spokesperson told the JC: “While we have nothing to add at this time to the contents of that letter it should be noted that the Vice-Chancellor has offered to continue the dialogue in person with Angus, other students, and with Rabbi Fishel Cohen.
“The vice-chancellor’s office has offered suggested dates to them all (via Rabbi Fishel Cohen) for such a meeting and is awaiting confirmation from them of a date that works for everyone.”
In December, Bristol University adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism after initially refusing to adopt all 11 of its examples of Jew-hate, prompting a row between the university and Bristol’s Jewish Society.