Universities in Britain threatened by Government minister

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

JVL Introduction

In a chilling reminder of the speed with which the government is moving to impose totalitarian thought control, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, is threatening to impose the politically motivated and intellectually incoherent IHRA definition of antisemitism on UK universities.

On the basis of our universities’ record in the face of what even the IHRA definition’s author, Kenneth Stern,  considered to be chilling and McCarthy-like usage, we may expect most Vice-Chancellors meekly to kowtow, unless there is a widespread revolt from the ranks of students and academics.

Coincidentally Ms. Tzipi Hotovely, an openly anti-Palestinian fanatic, has recently been appointed as the new Israeli ambassador in London, receiving a warm welcome from the rightwing establishment. She has previously declared that the Palestinian people have no history.

GW

This article was originally published by Press Association on Fri 9 Oct 2020. Read the original here.

Universities face cuts if they reject anti-Semitism definition, minister says

Universities could have their funding cut if they refuse to adopt an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism, the Education Secretary has warned.

Gavin Williamson has said he will take action against higher education institutions if they do not adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism before Christmas.

In a letter to vice-chancellors on Friday, the minister said there were still “too many disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism on campus and a lack of willingness by too many universities to confront this”.

He said the number of universities which have adopted the definition “remains shamefully low”, adding he was surprised that institutions have chosen not to demonstrate that they “do not tolerate anti-Semitism”.

“These providers are letting down all their staff and students, and, shamefully, their Jewish students in particular,” Mr Williamson said.

The Education Secretary is asking officials to consider directing the Office for Students (OfS) to impose a new regulatory condition of registration or suspend funding streams for universities at which anti-Semitic incidents occur and which have not signed up to the definition.

He added: “While many universities have rightly been quick over the summer to demonstrate their readiness to take action against other forms of racism, it is frankly disturbing that so many are dragging their feet on the matter of anti-Semitism.

“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, and I am quite clear that universities must play their part in rooting out this attitude and demonstrating that anti-Semitism is abhorrent.”

These providers are letting down all their staff and students, and, shamefully, their Jewish students in particular

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

A spokesman for the OfS said: “The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is an important guide to interpreting anti-Semitism and a useful tool for understanding how anti-Semitism manifests itself in the 21st century.

“We will explore with the Department for Education what practical steps should be taken to ensure its wider adoption, and how to make sure that anti-Semitism has no place on campuses in England.”

A Universities UK (UUK) spokeswoman said: “We recommend universities do all they can to tackle anti-Semitism, including considering the IHRA definition, whilst also recognising their duty to promote freedom of speech within the law.

“UUK has set up a taskforce to consider what can be done to address all forms of harassment, violence and hate crime on campus, including on the basis of religion.”

She added: “We are in regular contact with Jewish community leaders and student groups to ensure that universities are supported to do all they can to tackle anti-Semitism.”

Comments (15)

  • DJ says:

    We all knew this was coming. The government and the Israeli Lobby hate BDS activities and anti apartheid weeks on campuses. They want to shut down analysis of colonialism including Palestine and expunge left wing anti capitalist ideas from our schools. Apparently the expression of pro Palestinian ideas on campuses represents a threat to Jewish students if those who support Israel say so. This McCarthyite onslaught must be resisted!

  • JanP says:

    The IHRA is not internationally recognised. Only 28 countries out of nearly 200 recognise it, 3 of those are Israel, UK and USA plus some European countries plus some small ex British satellites.

  • Janet Watson says:

    Terrifying. We knew it was coming. As a professor at a UK university, I am in fear of my job and those of many like-minded colleagues.

  • Jack says:

    Students in particular, because of the antiSemitism smears, are beginning to realise that the problem is Zionism and it’s intention to drive Palestinians out of Palestine. When they criticise Zionism, they are accused of antiSemitism. Exactly as is occuring in Starmer’s Labour Party. It is antiZionism which is growing, not antiSemitism.

  • Sean O’Donoghue says:

    This is one of those “when did you stop beating your wife” tropes.
    “ remains shamefully low”, adding he was surprised that institutions have chosen not to demonstrate that they “do not tolerate anti-Semitism”.

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    This is shear blackmail, it is beyond Orwellian. This idiot Williamson does not have a clue about what the definition is all about, and is doing exactly what its aim was , which is to blank out any discussion, let alone criticism of Israel and its horrendous occupation and war crimes against the Palestinians.
    Not only this draconian edict to stamp out free speech, but the whole definition itself should be challenged. All the examples given about what one cannot say about Israel are actually factually true, as every good historian and human rights organisations and the UN have confirmed.
    This nauseating edict, from an ignorant minister, is actually saying to universities, the bastions of academia, they cannot allow discussion and analysis of a particularly odious form of colonialism that is intrinsically racist, and a serious form of apartheid and fascistic in its practice because it may cause distress amongst some Jewish students, but ignoring the distress this may cause to Palestinian students who are waiting for justice since 1948, and also to those who strive for human rights.
    Every university should be written to, urging them to stand up against this assault on democratic freedom, that is itself fascistic, and give them the whole analysis of the what the definition his all about, and what is said about it by its author and all the QCs who have taken it apart.
    BDS is in fact more and more the only way that Israel can be made to adhere to human rights, since it is now behaving with even more frenetic impunity to destroy Palestinians’ hope of justice and self determination.

  • The comment from DJ is substantially correct. One 1930 dictionary definition of fascism is – “A movement dedicated to eliminate socialism in all it`s forms.” The so called “antisemitic” rhetoric deployed by our right wing government and opposition hierarchy has become very much like this. When they say “antisemitic” read “socialist”. Real antisemitism is of lesser or little interest.
    I probably do not need to spell out which thirties central European regime sought to criminalize all thought or speech which challenged it`s ideology..
    Thoughtful Jews might shudder!

  • rc says:

    Poland, Latvia and Hungary, three signatories, at least ,are notorious hotbeds of genuine antisemitism (hostility to and/or discrimination against, Jews); their governments encourage and more or less officially endorse their antisemitic movements. This tells us a good deal about the so-called IHRA.
    Zionism and antisemitism have been not antipodes but twins since long before Herzl (who personally made this very point).
    Universities that endorse and apply this mendacious ‘definition’ should be pressured not only by students and staff, but by e.g Index against Censorship (now under new management!)

  • Rosie says:

    Suggest all universities should be invited to adopt the definition as expressed by Stephen Sedley – “Anti Semitism is hatred of Jews as Jews”

  • steve mitchell says:

    Marx wrote “history repeats itself in tragedy or in farce. We are watching a rerun of the 1930s. Capitalism collapsed, workers went hungry (150 people died every day in Britain from the effects of malnutrition between 1929 and 1939). Unemployment never fell below 10% in that period. That has been replaced by underemployment and wages for millions are no higher than they were in 2008. The Far Right always flourish in those conditions.The Nazis famously burnt books in Germany. Williamson is doing the equivalent. Social media allows the Far Right to pump out a tsunami of anti-left propaganda. This is reinforced by mainstream newspapers. Right-leaning commentators dominate broadcast media. The Right has been in power for 40 years yet voters are persuaded the Conservative Party is another party entirely. The warning signs are there. Democracy has been sold. The Israeli government is now part and parcel of a worldwide Far Right project which will bring about totalitarian governments. Liberal democracies are in serious danger.

  • Allan Howard says:

    In the above article it says:

    Gavin Williamson has said he will take action against higher education institutions if they do not adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism before Christmas.

    In a letter to vice-chancellors on Friday, the minister said there were still “too many disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism on campus and a lack of willingness by too many universities to confront this”.

    Does anyone know what these ‘disturbing incidents of anti-semitism on campus’ amount to? Or is it mainly just rhetoric for the MSM to dissemble to the general public.

    And are these ‘disturbing incidents’ of A/S being reported to the police, given that anti-semitism is a criminal offence?

    And what does Gavin Williamson mean when he says: “While many universities have rightly been quick over the summer to demonstrate their readiness to take action against other forms of racism, it is frankly disturbing that so many are dragging their feet on the matter of anti-Semitism.”? The only thing I can think of that he’s alluding to are the protests in relation to the murder of George Floyd, which is hardly the same as taking action in the sense that he is accusing universities of NOT taking action in relation to A/S. And if he WAS alluding to the protests regarding George Floyd, is he implying that a Jewish person was murdered on campus! Obviously not! And apart from the fact that I have little doubt that Williamson is grossly exaggerating the size of the problem, was there even ONE single incident in which a Jewish person was physically assaulted. ! very much doubt it!

    Via a CAA article, I just this minute came across an EHRC report in which it says the following:

    Many universities significantly underestimate the prevalence of racial harassment and have misplaced confidence in people’s willingness to come forward. In fact, within a six month period in 2018/19, 8% of all students in our survey (an estimated 180,000 if scaled up to the entire student population) said they had experienced racial harassment. One third of these (equivalent to 60,000) said they reported it to their university. However, our survey of universities found that, across all 159 publicly funded universities in Britain, they had recorded around 559 complaints of racial harassment from students over a period of three-and-a-half years. This works out at only around 80 formal complaints every six months.

    Hmm, well I’ve yet to read the whole report – which is about rascism in general – but it certainly doesn’t appear to fit with what Williamson said in relation to universities taking action against ‘other forms of rascism’!

    https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/tackling-racial-harassment-universities-challenged-executive-summary.pdf

    NB I just did a search, and yes, the Gavin Williamson/IHRA university story has been widely covered by the MSM!

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    Williamson is a utterly pitiful object. He should have stuck with what he is – allegedly – good at: hawking fireplaces in Staffordshire.

  • Philip Ward says:

    I wrote below the article on the TUC that the IHRA has just published a definition of “antigypsyism”. It would be better if I had put it here. The far-too-long defintion seems OK, except for the line that allows Roma/travellers to be displaced where it is legal (I wonder how many Roma groups were consulted about it). This is presumably to take account of the many European countries that have such laws. It could almost serve as an “IHRA definition of antisemitism” if you replace the references to Gypsies or Roma.

    https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/news-archive/ihras-34-member-countries-adopt-working-definition-antigypsyismanti-roma

  • DJ says:

    When Gavin Williamson claims there are”too many disturbing incidents of antisemitism on campus”he is merely parroting the unsubstantiated claims of the Israeli lobby. Their definition of an antisemitic “incident” includes the mere act of publically opposing the state of Israel. This is called a threat to Jewish students on campus. Being offended by pro Palestinian lecturers and activists is equated with being threatened by them. This is how they try to muzzle the voice of the oppressed and their supporters.

  • Patricia Wheeler says:

    This is nonsense. I fervently hope the universities will resist this attempt to curb their freedom of thought

Comments are now closed.