Jewish groups welcome government calls for universities to adopt IHRA definition
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Jewish groups welcome government calls for universities to adopt IHRA definition

Universities Minister urged institutions to adopt the definition of antisemitism to stamp out Jew hate

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore  said: "It is unacceptable to oblige certain groups of students to incur additional costs because of their race or religion."
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: "It is unacceptable to oblige certain groups of students to incur additional costs because of their race or religion."

Senior community figures endorsed calls by Universities Minister Chris Skidmore to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition.

In a letter to universities, the minister urged all institutions to adopt the definition and step up to stamp out Jew-hate. 

This comes following reports some Jewish student societies have been asked to pay up to £2,000 to ensure their own security at speaker events on campuses.

The minister said he is concerned this may amount to indirect discrimination and that it is unjust to ask certain groups to pay for additional security.

Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Simon Johnson said:“ Following a recent meeting convened by the JLC with member organisations UJS and CST, we are pleased to see that the Universities Minister will be calling on universities to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and advising them that unfair charges to Jewish societies on campus for security are unacceptable.

“These actions will ensure that there is a safe, welcoming and tolerant environment on UK campuses and we are grateful to the Government for its continuing support for the welfare of Jewish students.”

The Board of Deputies echoed calls to adopt the IHRA definition, saying: “This important announcement will be warmly received by Jewish students, Jewish academics, and the wider community who have become increasingly concerned with antisemitic incidents at higher education institutions,” said the board’s vice president Amanda Bowman.

She added: “We also welcome the Minister’s remarks that it is ‘unjust’ for student societies to cover the high security costs for putting on events. Universities have a duty of care to all students, especially those who suffer from discrimination on campus.

“The Board is proud of the achievements of Jewish students and academics on campus, We hope that this announcement and the hard work of UJS and others, will enable Jewish life on campus to continue to flourish.”

Campaigns Organiser of the Union of Jewish Students, Daniel Kosky said: “Following our productive meeting with the minister in April, we are grateful that he has acted on a number of our recommendations, including supporting the removal of prohibitive security costs for Jewish societies, and strengthening freedom of expression guidelines.

“Jewish students have long called for institutions to adopt the IHRA definition, and we now expect universities to follow the Government’s call, after the recommendation of Universities UK and the Office for Students, among others.”

Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, said: “The IHRA definition of antisemitism is widely accepted by governments around the world, including here in the UK, used by 130 local councils, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary.

“It provides clarity and context of this pernicious form of hatred.

“The adoption of IHRA by university institutions and this crucial work by everyone involved will help tackle antisemitism and hopefully contribute to a safer environment on campus for students.”

A spokesman for Universities UK (UUK) said: “We recommend universities do all they can to tackle antisemitism, including considering the IHRA definition, whilst also recognising their duty to promote freedom of speech within the law.

“UUK has set up a task force to consider what can be done to address all forms of harassment, violence and hate crime on campus, including on the basis of religion.”

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