Every year at universities, ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ sees a flurry of antisemitic speakers and demonstrations on British campuses. Each year, we are contacted by Jewish students who are unsure of their rights, what they can do, and how we can help them.
This year looks like it will be different.
Following a great deal of work by Campaign Against Antisemitism, Sir Eric Pickles and others, the British government became the first in the world to formally adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism.
The Minister of State for Universities has reminded all universities of the definition and their obligation to protect their Jewish students, already resulting in the University of Central Lancashire declaring that an Israeli Apartheid Week event would not be lawful.
We are now expecting further announcements from other universities, but some universities, for example SOAS, are stubbornly refusing to enforce the International Definition of Antisemitism, and are allowing antisemitism on their campuses under the guise of ‘academic freedom’.
Universities and students’ unions are governed by complex rules and laws, including the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy, the public sector equality duty, charity law and numerous other requirements. It can be complicated to enforce the law, but we are here to help. Today we are releasing a simple guide for students to their rights, and ways that they can help. The guide is being sent to Jewish Societies directly and can be downloaded by anybody from our website.
The tide is turning. Antisemitism on university campuses is at long last being exposed and rejected.