UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
Photo: AFP
Anti-Israel rally in London, 2014

UK education sec. slams universities for 'dragging their feet' on anti-Semitism

Williamson criticizes 'lack of willingness' on academia's side to confront phenomenon head-on and says will act if 'overwhelming majority of institutions' does not adopt IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by Christmas

i24NEWS |
Published: 10.11.20 , 13:41
United Kingdom Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has accused Britain's universities of not doing enough to stamp out anti-Semitism on campus, urging them to adopt new guidelines or risk losing government funding.
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  • In a letter made public on Friday, Williamson said that universities across the UK were either “dragging their feet” in responding to anti-Jewish bigotry on campus or "lack the willingness" to confront the phenomenon head-on.
    Anti-Israel rally in London, 2014 Anti-Israel rally in London, 2014
    Anti-Israel rally in London, 2014
    (Photo: citizenside.com)
    "It is frankly disturbing that so many are dragging their feet on the matter of anti-Semitism," the letter reads.
    "The repugnant belief that anti-Semitism is somehow a less serious, or more acceptable, form of racism has taken insidious hold in some parts of British society."
    One suggestion Williamson offered was that universities adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
    "If universities ignore the issue, I have asked officials to consider options e.g. directing the Office for Students to impose a new registration condition or suspending funding," he later posted in a tweet.
    Anti-Semitic graffiti in Britain Anti-Semitic graffiti in Britain
    Anti-Semitic graffiti in Britain
    (Photo: The Community Security Trust)
    According to The Times of Israel citing freedom of information request filed by the UK's Union of Jewish Students, just 29 of the 133 schools of higher education have adopted the definition. Another 80 institutions said that they have no plans to adopt the IHRA whatsoever.
    Some academics fear that signing on to the IHRA will abridge freedom of speech and curtail institutional independence, especially criticism of Israel and its policies regarding Palestinian Arabs.
    The IHRA defines anti-Semitism as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
    UK Education Secretary Gavin WilliamsonUK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
    UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
    (Photo: AFP)
    Williamson also stressed in his letter that the “government has zero-tolerance toward anti-Semitism.
    “If I have not seen the overwhelming majority of institutions adopting the definition by Christmas then I will act,” he said.

    Printed with permission from i24NEWS.
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