The UK’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has announced that adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism is “essential, not optional” for universities.

“This is not a box-ticking exercise. It’s a vital tool in tackling antisemitism, because it sends a signal that the university takes these issues really seriously. It is a way of nailing your colours to the mast for all to see, telling everyone, students, staff, that antisemitism has no place anywhere,” Zahawi told the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lord Merlyn Rees lecture, according to the UK Jewish News.

“I am not going to ease up until we see everyone fall into line on this,” Zahawi added.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition on antisemitism helped to combat Jew hatred and was adopted by the UK government in 2016 as well as by political parties, religious groups, local councils and various colleges and universities in the country. Unfortunately, many universities have still not adopted it over fears those opposing Israel may be labelled antisemitic. The truth, however, is that you can easily debate Israel’s policies without antisemitism, but there are far too many who use their hatred of Israel as a disguise for their antisemitic views.

Zahawi, who was born in Iraq to Kurdish parents and was forced to flee the country at the age of nine, also used his speech to explain how a visit to Auschwitz last year had impacted him and helped him reflect on his own experiences.

“I know what it feels like to be a young Kurdish boy, terrified by a dictator who has corrupted the state for their own ends. I know what it feels like to be a child in a family that is forced to run away in fear, under cover of darkness; and [that I was forced to leave] rather than go to the same school I had always been to, and grown up with the same friends I’d always had. I know what it feels like when the people you looked to, to safeguard you, turn away from you.”

He said that old hatreds have reared up again, which was why it was essential to keep speaking up about the Holocaust.

“The dangers have not passed. Too many of those evils still exist today. I’ve heard first-hand of the abuse Jewish friends have faced in the streets, in restaurants and cafes,” he said. “We know that Jewish students are victims of antisemitism on campus; and we hear the despicable way that too many people attack the state of Israel and its citizens.”

Zahawi pledged continued government support for the Jewish community, adding that British Jews should not have to face this battle alone.

“The BBC is responsible for inciting hatred against Israel”
Col. Richard Kemp

As a supporter of CUFI, please contact the UK’s Secretary of State and your MP to raise your concern.

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