IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

The University of Cambridge has “formally adopted” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism on 4 November 2020. Cambridge UCU passed a resolution in our Lent termly general meeting which regretted that at the University of Cambridge there was no consultation or discussion with staff before adopting the IHRA Definition. The resolution further stated: “There is a fundamental contradiction between the implementation of the IHRA definition in relation to the University’s rules, and its obligation in law to uphold academic freedom. The caveats adopted by General Board do not resolve this contradiction, leaving staff and students in the dark as to which acts or ideas may be considered antisemitic under the definition.”

CUCU organised an educational webinar for students and staff on 12 May to discuss the topic. The event was attended by around 45 people and heard contributions from: 

This page provides access to key educational resources and campaigning materials related to the IHRA Definition for CUCU members and activists 

Primary documents


IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

26 May 2016, International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance


The Jerusalem Declaration

In 2020, a group of scholars in Antisemitism Studies and related fields, including Jewish, Holocaust, Israel, Palestine and Middle East Studies, came together under the auspices of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute to address key challenges in identifying and confronting antisemitism. 

25 March 2021, Jerusalem Declaration


UCU branch resources and documents


Can the IHRA working definition be implemented?

FAQs: 16 questions on UCL and the IHRA definition of anti-semitism

“We also carefully examine the IHRA working definition, identifying that at its heart is a focus on mental states: on antisemitism as a system of belief, rather than as sanctionable acts. This approach creates an unsafe platform for deciding cases, and undermines freedom of expression.

Our conclusion is that the IHRA working definition is so worded with caveats that it is of limited practical use in determining guilt in cases where allegations are made, and to determine guilt using it as an instrument or reference point would place the university at risk of litigation. By contrast the Equality Act 2010 is the law, and provides a much safer basis for determinations.”

not dated, UCL UCU


UCU national policy 


UCU Congress 2021

UCU Special Congress October 2018

UCU Congress 2017

Motions 12 (as amended) and 13 (as amended) 

Motion 37

Motion 57 

2021, 2018, 2017 UCU website