University scraps Israel Apartheid Week, citing anti-Semitism

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

University scraps Israel Apartheid Week, citing anti-Semitism

Following the Government’s adoption of a new definition of anti-Semitism, organisers of Israel Apartheid Week fear they could be breaking the law

Demonstrators disrupting an event with Israeli speaker at UCL campus.
Demonstrators disrupting an event with Israeli speaker at UCL campus.

University chiefs have seen the writing on the wall for Israel Apartheid Week after the UK Government’s newly-adopted definition of anti-Semitism led to fears they could be breaking the law.

It follows the University of Central Lancashire’s cancellation of an event on campus, saying: “[We] determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.”

Other universities have been warned against breaching the working definition of anti-Semitism, set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) and adopted by Theresa May in December.

A spokesman for UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) said: “These events typically apply double standards towards Israel that are not applied to other countries and effectively deny Israel any right to exist by treating it as an inherently racist endeavour. As such, they conflict with the IHRA definition.”

Speaking to Jewish News, the university said: “We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.”

UKLFI said that any university hosting Israel Apartheid Week activities could also mean they were in breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in Section 149 of the Equality Act.

Under this, universities “must have due regard to the need to eliminate harassment and victimisation, and to foster good relations between persons of different nationality,
ethnicity or religion”.

In a letter sent to several universities, Baroness Ruth Deech said: “Although student societies may not intend to be anti-Semitic, the effect of their anti-Israel rhetoric may be to harass those students who support Israel, most of whom happen to be Jewish.”

Earlier this week, Israel-Britain Alliance director Michael McCann, whose organisation launched the campaign against Israel Apartheid Week earlier this month, urged universities not to use campus facilities to host “false propaganda” and that students supporting IAW were now anti-Semites according to the new definition.

IAW organisers say the events around the world “seek to raise awareness of Israel’s settler-colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing BDS movement”.

Following the scrapping of the event at Central Lancashire, there have been calls for other institutions to cancel events. Jewish News contacted universities about the issue, including King’s College London, UCL, LSE and Goldsmiths in London, as well as Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford.

Oxford chiefs said they respect “the rights of societies and its members to peaceful protest” and that “permission was given to the University Palestinian Society to hold a one-day exhibition and protest event on a small area”.

Among speakers expected to tour university campuses ahead of IAW is Farid Esack, who is due to address students at King’s, Manchester and Sussex. He gained notoriety after saying he “would not pray” for Jewish victims of the Paris attack on a kosher deli, having previously hosted Palestinian terrorists.

He was banned last year from speaking at Paris-Sorbonne University, and pro-Israel activists are calling for a similar ban in the UK.



Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: