City University Students’ Union’s referendum against International Definition of Antisemitism is a shameful abandonment of Jewish students
City University’s Students’ Union has called a referendum for later this month on a motion urging the University to reject the International Definition of Antisemitism, in what amounts to a shameful abandonment of Jewish students.
A similar motion was brought to a student members meeting in November 2020, where all students could vote, and it failed by an overwhelming margin, with 66% declining to support it.
Despite the failure of essentially the same motion to pass late last year, the trustees of the Students’ Union have taken the rare step of calling a university-wide referendum in a desperate effort to pass the resolution, which is controversially phrased as to call for the University to “reject” the Definition even before it has adopted it.
Over seventy other universities in Britain have adopted the Definition so far, for which the Government, Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Union of Jewish Students and all other mainstream Jewish organisations have called. City University has not yet adopted the Definition.
In deciding to call the referendum, it is understood that the Students’ Union appallingly failed to consult the Jewish Society.
In a statement, the Jewish Society observed that “once again, Jewish students were not consulted about this motion going ahead, and we are left frustrated that the Students’ Union believes it’s okay for the topic of antisemitism to be debated in a public forum. Having a referendum on such an issue reinforces the idea that Jewish student safety has to be fought for rather than a right. The Jewish community should be allowed to define for themselves what antisemitism is, same as with any other ethnic minority. All of this makes us feel that the Students’ Union is neglecting its Jewish students and failing in its responsibility to support all students.”
Even when concerns were raised by the Jewish Society, “the Students’ Union was adamant about the referendum going ahead.” According to the Jewish Society “the Students’ Union has made clear that when discussing anti-Jewish racism, they will not prioritise Jewish student voices.”
Further questions have also arisen about the rules of the campaign and what role, if any, that the Jewish Society will be permitted to play. Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is in contact with the Jewish Society and has also been approached directly by concerned Jewish students on campus, is monitoring developments and has offered ongoing support.
Binyomin Gilbert, Programme Manager at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “City University’s Students’ Union has brought shame on the University. This referendum, apparently called after the failure of a similar attempt and without consultation with the Jewish Society, represents an abandonment of Jewish students by their own union. The goal of the campaign – to encourage the University not to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism – is tantamount to reserving the right to be antisemitic. This referendum has no place on a distinguished campus. If it does proceed, City students are urged to show solidarity with their Jewish peers once more and reject this intimidatory motion.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by universities.
If any students are concerned about antisemitism on campus or need assistance, they can call us on 0330 822 0321, or e-mail [email protected].