Updates and News

The IHRA definition and the illustrative examples attached to it which conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism are frequently deployed to successfully shut down grassroots efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for violating international law.

Since the IHRA adopted the definition, it has been wielded in attempts to shut down educational events and cancel university classes, by penalising support for the non-violent Palestinian call for boycott or by seeking to turn critique of Israel into a hate crime. This page will share the latest stories and articles covering this ‘chilling effect’.

The Malmo Forum 2021

October 2021

Use of the IHRA definition to restrict Academic Freedom at the University of Glasgow

Dr Somdeep Sen, Associate Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University, accepted an invite to deliver a talk on his new book Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial (Cornell University Press, 2020) at Glasgow University.

Unfortunately, the IHRA definition was utilised to unfairly scrutinise and restrict Somdeep’s scheduled talk. These actions taken by staff members at the University of Glasgow and, indeed, the University Protocol itself, raise major concerns about the integrity of academic freedom at the University of Glasgow, particularly with regards to the discussion of the actions of the Israeli government.

The British Society of Middle Eastern Studies has written to Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow, to express concerns about the University’s ‘Protocol for Managing Speakers and Events’ and the University’s decision to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and their implications for Middle East Studies and academic freedom.
Read the Letter

The Malmo Forum

This month, world and Jewish leaders assembled in Malmo Sweden, for the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.

However, it’s conclusions and actions could prove problematic as Avrum Burg writes:

“the instrumentalisation of the antisemitism issue under successive Israeli governments, to serve goals of Israel advocacy, has added an unprecedented degree of controversy and disingenuity to this already difficult terrain….

For example, according to the IHRA, support for granting basic freedoms to the Palestinian people based on an anti-colonialist political position could be an example of modern day anti-Semitism.

This, of course, is a gross distortion.

Any struggle against hatred in general, and against anti-Semitism in particular, must also morally and logically support the demand for the independence of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination.”

Read the rest of the article about why political interests could lead to the Malmo forum’s failure, just like the IHRA definition:

Avrum served as Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel from 1995-1999 and Speaker of Knesset for the Labour Party from 1999-200