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Petition calls for University to sign IHRA anti-Semitism definition

UoA makes no commitment but will ‘raise the issue’


By: Rosie Mccaffrey



Old Town House - Photograph: Anttoni Numminen



An Aberdeen University student has started a petition for the University to sign the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition is accepted by many western governments and institutions.


The IHRA definition states “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”


The creator of the petition, Gregor Armstrong, said: “campus should be inclusive to everyone and signing the IHRA definition makes that absolutely clear in text.” The petition currently has around 50 of its 100-signature goal.


The University’s Jewish Society commented: “The lack of action on this matter alongside the BDS motion passed at the 2019 AUSA AGM signal that Aberdeen is becoming an increasingly hostile place for Jewish students. We would urge the university to adopt the IHRA definition as a matter of priority.”


The lack of action on this matter alongside the BDS motion passed at the 2019 AUSA AGM signal that Aberdeen is becoming an increasingly hostile place for Jewish students. - AU Jewish Society

BDS or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, is a pro-Palestinian group which aims to “pressure Israel to comply with international law”. The BDS motion at the March 2019 AGM, however, was only passed after an amendment proposed by the Jewish Society.


The BDS motion was later overturned by the Trustee Board in January 2020.


The University has said that they are committed to furthering equality and will consider changing the definition, though have not made a decision as yet.


"This issue of including direct reference to anti-Semitism in our anti-discrimination policies will be raised at the next meeting of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.” - UoA

When asked whether it would accept the IHRA definition, the University made no commitment but said the issue would be “raised at the next meeting of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee”


“As outlined in our Aberdeen 2040 Strategy published in February 2020, our university is open to all. We welcome staff and students of all backgrounds, and strive to connect with our communities and partners, locally, nationally and internationally. Our commitment to inclusion continues to guide our education, our research, and the projects we deliver.


“In line with our commitment to inclusivity, the University has in place a policy against discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace as well as the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. These are in place to protect against all forms of discrimination or harassment, however, specific reference is not made to anti-Semitism. The University has a number of committees and groups which look at equality, diversity and dignity at work and study. This issue of including direct reference to anti-Semitism in our anti-discrimination policies will be raised at the next meeting of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.”


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