The University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom announced than an upcoming event at the school marking “Israel Apartheid Week” would be canceled for violating the government’s definition of anti-Semitism.
According to a report on the Jewish Chronicle news site published Tuesday, the University of Central Lancaster event was meant to feature Ben White, a prominent anti-Israel activist, and pro-Palestinian academics.
A university spokesman quoted in the report said the session, titled “Debunking Misconceptions on Palestine,” was called off because it contravened the government’s new definition of anti-Semitism and was thus “unlawful.”
“The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism,” the spokesperson is quoted as saying. “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.”
The British government in December adopted the relatively broad definition of anti-Semitism first put forward in May at a conference of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is based in Berlin.
According to that definition, anti-Semitism includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
It also says anti-Semitism includes “using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
According to the Jewish Chronicle report, the event at the University of Central Lancaster was just one of many scheduled to take place at universities across the UK.
The upcoming Israel Apartheid Week at UK university campuses comes on the heels of an uptick in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents on British university campuses of late, leading to growing worry among Jewish students and academics and calls for university administrations to do more to combat the trend.
According to a Saturday report in The Guardian, the concerns were raised in response to the spate of anti-Semitic incidents at British universities. Most recently, a swastika was found carved into a door and a sign reading “Rights for Whites” was hung at the entrance to a dorm room at the University of Exeter earlier this week.
Other recent incidents include the appearance of flyers praising Holocaust denier David Irving and swastikas drawn around the campus at Cambridge University earlier this month.
The Community for Security Trust, a British anti-Semitism watchdog, said in its most recent annual report that there were 41 cases of reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, nearly double 2015’s tally of 21, showing that anti-Semitism on campuses is growing rapidly.
Elie Leshem contributed to this report.