City University’s vote for or against IHRA antisemitism

City University’s vote for or against IHRA antisemitism

City University of London formally rejected the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) antisemitism definition. Voting commenced on 30 March and will end on the 25 at 4pm.

All student members of the Union are entitled to vote in City’s IHRA referendum. There must be a minimum of 500 student votes in order to confirm the Union’s position in the matter.

Voting ‘No’

City University’s Jewish Society very clearly shows it wishes to vote against rejecting the definition on its social media. It explains that antisemitism is a “complex and nuanced form of discrimination”. Although the University has a general discrimination policy, there is no specific definition of antisemitism on campus. The society added that those not targeted shouldn’t be deciding how to define what is or isn’t anti-Semitic.

The Jewish Society wrote: “It would never be acceptable to debate and decide for any other minority group how they experience oppression or racism.” It accepts the IHRA definition because of its balance between granting freedom of speech and disallowing anti-Jewish speech. The society says a rejection of the definition would mean “students at City do not care about the discrimination that Jewish students face”. Other societies and Wolfpack teams have endorsed the Jewish Society’s position on the vote. Including City’s netball team, men’s rugby, and the Law Society.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism was created by Jewish scholars and Holocaust survivors. It’s recognised by every party in the UK Parliament, the Premier League, 60% of UK universities, and more than 30 countries. The definition doesn’t avoid criticism of the Islamic State. It provides a “clear guide in recognising antisemitic incidents on campus, so that they can be properly dealt with when they occur”.

The campaign also declares that antisemitism has been on the rise and the CST recorded the highest number of incidents in universities through the 2019/20 academic year, despite the COVID-19 lockdowns and university closures.

Voting ‘Yes’

Driven by City’s Palestinian society, which argues the definition uses too many examples relating to the State of Israel. This, they believe, should be “totally separate from the conversation around antisemitism”. The campaign refers to An-Nakba, which was — according to the text — the expelling of 700,000 Palestinians to make way for the State of Israel to be formed. It believes that although the discrimination against Jews should be “eradicated from campus”, the IHRA definition disapproves of any criticism of Zionism. This is something that has affected Palestinian students at City.

They propose the University gets together with Jewish students and staff and proposes a new definition. This should highlight the oppression faced by Jewish students. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be “at the cost of another marginalised group or community.”

The Palestine Society also write about antisemitism incidents that have occurred to them over the past few years. These can be found on the Student’s Union website alongside more information on both campaigns as well as the voting system.

Before casting your vote, you may also want to see the IHRA definition for yourself. Both campaigns encourage people to get in contact with them for more insight. You have until Thursday to vote and results will be published on Friday.

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