The University of Edinburgh has excluded Palestinian staff and scholars from Palestine from a task force set up to discuss the “brutal consequences” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) highly controversial definition of anti-Semitism. Details of the marginalization of Palestinian voices at the Scottish university were reported by senior lecturer in international relations Nicola Perugini.
“The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a weapon to silence critical conversations about Palestine,” Perugini tweeted. “Guess who my university has excluded from the ‘task and finish group’ that will discuss the brutal consequences of the definition? Palestinian staff and scholars of Palestine.”
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is used to silence critical conversations about Palestine. Guess who excluded my university from the “task and final work group” that will discuss the brutal consequences of the definition? Palestinian staff and scholars of Palestine 🤦♂️
— Nicola Perugini (@PeruginiNic) November 15, 2022
Perugini also expressed concern about the adoption of the IHRA definition by British universities without consultation. “The majority of UK universities adopted the definition without consulting their staff and under pressure from Gavin Williamson Tory Secretary of State for Education,” said the co-author of the 2020 book Human Shields: A History of Humans in the Line of Fire.
According to the senior lecturer, Williamson, who recently resigned from a government position for the third time, had “blackmailed” universities and threatened to cut government funding if they did not adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
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Opposition to the definition has grown over the years due to concerns about its chilling effect on free speech. Jewish academics are among the many individuals, groups and institutions who oppose it. The Jewish Faculty Network (JFN) warned against the IHRA, saying that the definition has been used to intimidate and silence “the work of labor unions, student groups, academic departments and faculty associations committed to freedom, equality and justice for Palestinians.” lay.
Critics insist the IHRA definition is problematic because seven of the 11 examples of anti-Semitism cited mix legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish racism. As a result, its widespread acceptance will not only open critics of the apartheid state to accusations of anti-Semitism, but will also deny Palestinians the freedom and right to speak out about the oppression to which they are subjected by Israel’s brutal military occupation.