Leeds students vote down motion to combat antisemitism

Leeds students vote down motion to combat antisemitism

The motion on combating antisemitism will now be put to a campus-wide referendum

Leeds University Union
Leeds University Union

A panel of students from Leeds University Union (LUU) has voted down a motion to combat antisemitism by 10 to 5 in an atmosphere described as “intimidating” by a Jewish student who attended the event.

Emma Jacobs, the student who proposed the motion, told Jewish News“I’m incredibly disappointed.

“I would not wish this on any other student group. We put forward the motion because we believe all students deserve to feel safe on campus and Jewish students shouldn’t be an exception to this.

“Jewish students should not have to go through this struggle to combat antisemitism.”

Jacobs also tweeted: “I barely slept last night.

“I cannot stop thinking of the injustice of how this motion was approached by the vast crowd who turned up to intimidate me (attempting) to get me to withdraw.

“Why’s the Jewish community the only one who aren’t allowed to define our own oppression?”

The motion called for Leeds University to hold a Holocaust Memorial Day each year to remember the victims of the Shoah and run educational events on the issues around antisemitism and the Holocaust.

The proposals, which also involves adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and ensuring that sabbatical officers have training on tackling antisemitism, will now be put to a campus-wide referendum.

In a statement, Leeds Jewish Society said it was “incredibly disappointed” the motion did not pass, adding: “The forum involved sniggering and some students asking us to withdraw the motion in full or amend it.”

“This means, in theory, that LUU could be giving money to students to run AGAINST combating antisemitism.

“We will not cower. Jewish students have a right to feel safe on campus.”

Daniel Kosky, campaigns organiser for the Union of Jewish Students, said: “It is shocking and yet no longer surprising that supposed anti-racists and activists could not vote in sufficient numbers to support Jewish people defining their own oppression and adopting the measures and actions that they demand to keep them safe on campus.

“We are also dismayed at reports that some of those present sniggered at Jewish students and suggested they withdraw or amend their motion.

“Whilst it shouldn’t be up for debate, UJS will continue to support Leeds J-Soc in their campaign to demand their peers in Leeds respect their right to define the prejudice they face and to direct the most effective ways for the SU to work with them in preventing and combating antisemitism.”

A Leeds University Union spokesperson said:  “At the forum, every student agreed antisemitism was unacceptable.

“However, there was debate both for and against adopting all of the examples listed with the IHRA definition. Within our democratic system, 75 percent of the student panel have to vote yes for an idea to pass or no for it to fail. If an idea does not get 75 percent, it may proceed to a campus-wide referendum.

“In this case, 10 students voted for the idea and 5 students voted against it, 12 votes were required for the idea to pass or fail. The next step is to take the idea to referendum, should the proposer wish to.”

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