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School of Law

New report highlights major free speech issues in UK universities

A recently published report by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and the European Legal Support Center (ELSC) found breaches of fundamental rights in UK Higher Education by using the ‘IHRA definition of antisemitism’.

A lecture in a university

The report looked at 40 cases between 2017-2022 in which university staff and students were accused of antisemitism based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition. Apart from two that are ongoing, all the cases were rejected.

The findings show that the IHRA definition is undermining academic freedom and freedom of expression on discussions of Israel and Palestine. The investigations caused varying levels of stress and anxiety in staff and students.

Neve Gordon, the Chair of BRISMES’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Professor of International Law and Human Rights, said: "What has been framed as a tool to classify and assess a particular form of discriminatory violations of protected characteristics, has instead been used as a tool to undermine and punish protected speech and to punish those in academia who voice criticism of the Israeli state’s policies."

Read the full report on BRISMES website. The report was featured in The Guardian.



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