Victory on campus

LEEDS University Union is set to back down on its controversial decision to reject a proposal combating antisemitism on campus.

The Jewish Telegraph can exclusively reveal that LUU will write to Jewish students within the next 24 hours, agreeing to implement the original motion — voted down earlier this week — on tackling antisemitism.

But they will stop short of fully endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

The JT also understands that Leeds University’s Jewish Students’ Society has been working with union executives behind the scenes to resolve the issue after it angered Jewish groups and upset Jewish students.

Another vote — involving all students on campus — due to be held on the original motion has also been cancelled after it was decided that a campaign for and against condemning antisemitism would be damaging to Jewish students.

On Monday, five of the 15 members of the student panel at Leeds University Union voted down the motion.

It had called for the adoption of “a multifaceted approach to discourage the discrimination of Jewish students”.

The motion also sought the adoption of the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, holding at least one annual Holocaust Memorial Day event and for sabbatical officers to have training on issues affecting Jewish students.

The motion explained that new provisions were necessary because “over the past two years, the highest levels of antisemitism have been recorded in the UK”.

It also said that Leeds — as a university with a large Jewish population — “must ensure that Jewish students can feel safe on campus”.

The union rules state that 75 per cent of the student panel have to vote for or against a motion for it to pass or fail, otherwise it is sent to a university-wide referendum.

This would have meant that a majority of non-Jewish students would vote on whether Jewish students could have extra protection against antisemitism.

A Leeds University Union spokesman said that the panel had agreed antisemitism was unacceptable.

However, “there was debate both for and against adopting all of the examples listed with the IHRA definition”.

A University of Leeds spokesman said: “We are committed to promoting and positively encouraging free debate — including the definition of antisemitism.”

One of the students behind the original motion — but who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons — told the Jewish Telegraph: “Jewish students should not have to go through this struggle to combat antisemitism.”

Another, who co-submitted the motion, claimed that the panel was “not prepared to stand with Jewish students and let us define our own oppression”.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “There is no place in our society — including within higher education — for hatred or any form of harassment, discrimination or racism, including antisemitism.

“Higher education providers have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students.”

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