Unis risk becoming outliers in failing to deal with antisemitism

John Mann speaking at #EnoughIsEnough - Demonstration against antisemitism (Photo Credit: Marc Morris via Jewish News)
John Mann speaking at #EnoughIsEnough - Demonstration against antisemitism (Photo Credit: Marc Morris via Jewish News)

The Universities are in danger of becoming the outliers in failing to adopt effective policies and systems to deal with antisemitism.

Only 29 Universities have so far properly adopted the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitism, unlike every political party present in Westminster, all but one MP and the British and many other governments.

The fact that Football Premier League clubs have done more than the Universities ought to give every University considerable food for thought.

Some hide behind ‘free speech’, despite the fact that IHRA does nothing at all  to restrict academic discussion and argument. Some clearly do not understand the difference between a working definition- which IHRA is- best actioned in human resources and student support services- from a legal definition best resting in a legal department.

Most shockingly less than half the Universities with J Socs have not yet bothered to adopt IHRA, leaving Jewish students less equal and less protected than other students on their campuses.

Antisemitism on campus is very rarely physical attacks, but in what are meant to be the most tolerant places in the country, other manifestations of antisemitism stick out like a sore thumb.

I want to see a significant majority of the Russell Group adopting IHRA before the years end – so far 12 of the 24 top universities in this group have done so and, as a priority, every University with a JSoc seeing it as integral  to its student support and acting appropriately.

By the time next years intake of University students chooses their place of education I think that Universities will find that Jewish students will have voted with their feet. Every student and every family of a student should expect equality of respect and quality of student life. Those Universities that fail to adopt IHRA are making a conscious and calculated decision and those that haven’t yet got their bureaucracy together need to act promptly and end up on the right side of history.

About the Author
Lord John Mann is an independent Advisor to UK Government on antisemitism, and a former Labour MP for Bassetlaw, who now sits in the House of Lords as a crossbench peer.
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