University rector responds to antisemitism row

University of Edinburgh rector Ann Henderson has issued a response to  The Student regarding her refusal to support the UK Labour party adopting the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

Henderson has been strongly criticised by Edinburgh Labour Students (ELS), as well as “disappointed” Edinburgh University Students’ Association President Eleri Connick, for her position on the matter.

Henderson has told The Student that, “the IHRA definition of antisemitism has been adopted by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), is contained in the party rule book and has been enhanced and strengthened by the additional points included in the Labour Code of Conduct as agreed at the NEC.

“A number of other bodies, including The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Report on antisemitism, published in October 2016, had identified some limitations and concerns about the full IHRA statement and had recommended adoption of the IHRA definition should include some clarifications. I believe that the Labour Party Code of Conduct takes these points on board.

“I am opposed to racism and antisemitism, a position I believe to be shared across the university.”

The UK branch of the IHRA, along with a large number of Jewish MPs, public figures and the British Jewish community, have condemned the Labour party for altering the IHRA’s official definition. The party has also been intensely criticised for omitting four of the IHRA’s  illustrative examples of antisemitism from the party’s modified definition.

In a public statement to the press, the IHRA have said that, “any ‘modified’ version of the IHRA definition that does not include all of its 11 examples is no longer the IHRA definition… If one organisation or institution can amend the wording to suit its own needs, then logically anyone else could do the same.

“We would once again revert to a world where antisemitism goes unaddressed simply because different entities cannot agree on what it is.”

Whilst Henderson responded to The Student’s request for comment on her refusal to support the IHRA definition, she did not respond to any of The Student’s questions regarding her political support and advocacy for Peter Willsman and whether or not she would withdraw that support. Willsman, who is running to be a member of the NEC, was recorded blaming the antisemitism claims the Labour Party face on Jewish “Trump fanatics” who were “making up duff information”.

Henderson also did not respond to questions from The Student regarding whether she believes minority groups have the right to determine their own oppression.

More to follow.

 

Image: Noa Hoffman

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