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
13 September 2023
Report reveals the dangerous impact of the use of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism in British universities
The European Legal Support Center (ELSC) and British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) have launched a groundbreaking report on the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its harmful impacts in British Higher Education institutions. The report finds that the IHRA definition of antisemitism “is unsuitable for universities”, and documents forty cases of its use. These cases illustrate what many have been saying for years: that the IHRA definition is prone to being used in a way that discriminates against Palestinians and others on campuses who wish to teach, research, study, discuss, or speak out against the ongoing oppression of Palestinians by Israel.
The Malmo Forum 2021
May – December 2022
Use of the IHRA definition in a series of investigations by the National Union of Students, under pressure from the government
In April 2022, the NUS’ annual conference was held and student delegates elected their new full-time President: Shaima Dallali, who ran on a platform of combatting the marketisation of education and empowering student organisers, and who has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights. She was never able to fully take on the role. After months of media scrutiny and government pressure, the NUS announced two investigations: one into Dallali, and one into the broader culture of the NUS. On November 1st, Jewish News broke the story that she had been sacked, before Dallali had herself been informed of the outcome. In the midst of widespread media misinformation, here are the real questions we should be asking about this investigation:
The Malmo Forum 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: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/why-the-malmo-forum-against-antisemitism-risks-failure/
Avrum served as Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel from 1995-1999 and Speaker of Knesset for the Labour Party from 1999-200