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Leeds Union forum votes against combating antisemitism

It has been claimed this may mean LUU could provide funds for students to run a campaign against combatting antisemitism

A Leeds University Union forum has voted against a motion to combat antisemitism on campus, with five votes opposing it and ten in favour.

The motion was intended to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, ensure Sabbatical Officers have training on tackling antisemitism, and adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by the government, NUS and many local councils.

This decision means that the issue will now go to a campus wide referendum, and Leeds JSOC have claimed this means LUU could provide money to students to run a campaign against combatting antisemitism.

A tweet from Leeds JSoc outlined the details of the motion, stating: "The motion is about marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, ensuring Sabbatical officers have training on tackling antisemitism and adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism."

The vote has left many members of the Jewish community feeling let down by the university and their fellow students.

We spoke to Tamzin, a Jewish student at Leeds, who felt disappointed by the result: "I feel gutted and disappointed, because I thought this university had such a good stance on discrimination, and diversity, and I feel like the Jewish community have been sidelined. Many non-Jews do not understand and see the discrimination that we face, and it must stop. It is making me and many others feel incredibly unsafe on campus.

"When I saw that a similar situation had happened on the university of Essex I was annoyed, but was comforted with the thought that the student body at my university, one that prides itself on having such a strong Jewish community, would never act this way, and evidently I was wrong!"

Tamzin recalled an incident with a group of guys who were dressed in Jewish religious attire on an Otley run: "I asked them if they were Jewish and they said 'no, we're dressed as Jews because it's fucking hilarious'. I felt quite upset about this incident, because no one batted an eyelid. No one takes discrimination against Jews seriously."

When Tamzin was asked if she thinks the university does enough to promote equality, she expressed that students are being let down in certain areas: "Yes I think it does a lot for equality, especially in terms of LGBTQ+ and gender equality, but it Is almost pathetic how much it falls short on racial and religious equality.

"For a university and student body that claim to be so left wing and therefore open to any and all ideas, it is embarrassing how this situation, which was supposed to help Jews and allow them to feel supported, has unravelled."

After the motion was voted down, the vote now goes to a campus wide referendum, meaning that every Leeds student will have a vote on the matter.

Tamzin is optimistic, though, that a different result will be achieved in the wider referendum: "My hope is that students come to their senses, and despite differing religious views, they understand that no group should be persecuted or face racism. If the vote does fail I do think that I will feel unsafe on campus. While I'm not a very active member of the Jewish community, I still am a Jew, and I want to know that I can be protected by an institution I pay £9,000+ to every year."

A spokesperson for Leeds University Union told The Leeds Tab: "A panel of 15 students voted on student-proposed ideas around how to make their Union better. One idea considered was ‘Should LUU do more to combat antisemitism?’ which included the suggestion to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its full examples.

"At the forum, every student agreed antisemitism was unacceptable. However, there was debate both for and against adopting all of the examples listed with the IHRA definition. Within our democratic system, 75 per cent of the student panel have to vote yes for an idea to pass or no for it to fail. If an idea does not get 75 per cent, it may proceed to a campus-wide referendum.

"In this case, 10 students voted for the idea and five students voted against it, 12 votes were required for the idea to pass or fail. The next step is to take the idea to referendum, should the proposer wish to."