Campaign Against Antisemitism has submitted evidence to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights to counter claims that adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism, especially by universities, stifles freedom of expression.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights comprises members drawn from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and examines matters relating to human rights. One of its current inquiries is into freedom of expression.
The campaign to encourage universities to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism has encountered opposition on the basis that adoption somehow stifles freedom of expression, but this argument does not have merit, and the evidence that we have submitted lays out in detail why this is the case. “The claim that adoption of the Definition conflicts with the duty on universities to protect free speech is a familiar and flawed argument, notwithstanding its persistence,” our letter says.
The letter proceeds to analyse the difference between speech that is ‘merely’ insulting or offensive, and speech that is antisemitic, and the implications for whether those types of speech are protected under Article 10 of the European Charter of Human Rights.
We also cite the legal opinion, produced for us in 2017 by Lord Wolfson of Tredegar QC and Jeremy Brier, which argued that “this Definition should be used by public bodies on the basis that it will ensure that the identification of antisemitism is clear, fair and accurate” and emphasised that “Criticism of Israel, even in robust terms, cannot be regarded as antisemitic per se and such criticism is not captured by the Definition.”
The full letter to the Joint Committee can be accessed below.