The University of Westminster, which is popular with Jewish students, has brought Britain’s Higher Education sector over the halfway line.
This is a major milestone for Jewish students, showing the strides being made to ensure that antisemitism is properly understood and tackled on campuses.
Widespread adoption of the Definition also shows that those universities in Britain that have yet to adopt the Definition will become increasingly isolated. Just this week, as antisemitism online, on our streets and on campuses has skyrocketed, the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has reiterated his and the Education Secretary’s calls on universities to adopt the Definition. It also comes in the same week as the National Union of Students (NUS) has apologised for a statement “in solidarity with Jewish students” in which it blamed antisemitism in Britain on Israel. In the past, it has been suggested by the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, that universities could face financial penalties if they fail to address antisemitism.
However, adoption of the Definition is not enough on its own, as shown by the appalling example of the University of Bristol, which has adopted the Definition but is yet to discipline Prof. David Miller. Most recently, Prof. Miller asserted that “Zionism is racism” and declared that his objective is “to end Zionism as a functioning ideology of the world”. Most egregiously, he suggested that Jewish students, by virtue of being Zionist, “encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”.
Nevertheless, adoption of the Definition remains a powerfully symbolic act of solidarity with Jewish students, as well as a vital tool in the fight against antisemitism on campus. It is no coincidence that UCL has become ground zero for the campaign by academics against the Definition and has also seen death threats against Jewish students.
Binyomin Gilbert, Programme Manager at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “At a time of skyrocketing antisemitism online and on campuses, including death threats against Jewish students, that half of British universities have adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism offers some much-needed good news. This major milestone is the result of tireless work by politicians, Jewish students, Jewish community organisations, local activists and ourselves.
“Adopting the Definition is an institution’s first step in proving that it stands with its Jewish students. We applaud the half of British universities in the UK that have so far adopted the Definition, and call on the rest to follow suit. Those universities which are lagging must delay no longer and act now to pledge their commitment to stamping out antisemitism on their campus and show that they take the welfare of their Jewish students seriously. We support Government plans to impose penalties on those that fail to address hate against Jewish students.
“Our real-time monitoring on our website of adoption of the Definition by universities, as well as of reported antisemitic incidents, is a valuable resource for Jewish students, faculty and the community. As Jewish students suffer horrendous antisemitism on campus, there is no better time for Britain’s universities to show their students and the wider public where they stand.”
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]