Union members call on King’s College to let them criticize Zionism, Israel

Union members at King’s College London have called on the university to revoke its adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, claiming that its stipulation that anti-Zionism is antisemitism constitutes revisionist history.The IHRA definition of antisemitism lists a number of contemporary examples of antisemitism, among them: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”However, members of the University and College Union (UCU) have tabled a motion which argues that some of the examples within the IHRA definition “require us to deny or suppress matters of historical record and contemporary reality,” which they claimed was a breach of the Equality Act, according to the Jewish Chronicle. The motion calls upon the management of Kings College London to “reaffirm KCL’s commitment to academic freedom, including freedom of speech, critical of capitalism, critical of white privilege, and critical of Zionism and Israel.”It also makes clear the members’ intention to file the motion at the union’s national level, in addition to the King’s College branch. The university was one of the first in the UK to adopt the IHRC definition, in 2018. A Jewish member of the union’s King’s College Branch told the JC that the motion made them feel “uncomfortable.” Wishing to remain anonymous, the union member added: “I am so exhausted with having to emotionally respond to people questioning what constitutes antisemitism. That members of my union would go to the trouble of putting forward a motion to reject it […] it’s quite confronting.”

In a statement on Twitter, Britain’s Board of Deputies of British Jews commented: “It is right that King’s College London became of the first universities to adopt the IHRA definition in 2018. That should be a matter of pride. But this regressive motion is an attack on equalities. Rather than moving backwards, we encourage more universities to adopt it, following the example of King’s and others.

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