British university union rejects motion to adopt anti-Semitism definition


(JTA) — The Leeds University Union voted against a motion calling on the British institution to fight anti-Semitism, prompting a university-wide referendum on the subject.

The draft motion submitted by the Leeds University Jewish Society to the student government called for the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. The definition includes some examples of anti-Israel vitriol, but states that criticism of Israel that is comparable to criticism of any other country does not constitute anti-Semitism.

In the vote Monday at a union policy forum, the motion came up two votes shy of the required number for adoption, though 10 representatives voted in favor and five against. A university-wide referendum is likely to fail.

The Leeds Jewish society is “incredibly disappointed,” its spokespeople wrote on Twitter.

Leeds University is the fifth largest school in the United Kingdom with a total of more than 33,000 students.

Critics of the anti-Semitism definition, which was adopted last year by the British government as its working definition of the phenomenon, say it obstructs free speech.

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