Sheffield Hallam University, one of the largest in the UK, is the latest to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) announced on 3 February 2021 that it had adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Lesley Klaff, senior lecturer in law at the University, Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, and a member of UKLFI, worked hard to secure this result, with assistance from UKLFI Chief Executive Jonathan Turner, overcoming stiff opposition.
Opponents insisted that adoption of the definition would restrict freedom of speech. Lesley explained that the definition expressly recognises that criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic; and that freedom of speech within the law at universities is secured by legislation.
It was suggested by some that the IHRA definition might be adopted with the qualifications recommended by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in October 2016, namely
It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.