UPenn student body indefinitely tables resolution supporting IHRA anti-Semitism definition

UPenn Undergraduate Assembly votes to scrap resolution that would have asked uni to adopt IRHA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Dan Verbin ,

Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite
Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Undergraduate Assembly indefinitely tabled a resolution proposed by students Yarden Wiesenfeld and Sam Kim that would have mandated the student body to ask the university to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The resolution, brought forward during a recent meeting, asked that the assembly recognize that “in recent years, there has been a record spike in attacks against Jews across the nation” and that with hate crimes against Jews far out of proportion to the size of the American Jewish community, that they stand “in solidarity with the Jewish community and unreservedly condemn all forms of anti-Semitism, both on and off campus.”

The resolution, which specifically quoted the IHRA definition, was “indefinitely tabled,” according to campus newspaper The Daily Pennsyvanian, after “multiple” anti-Israel activists crowded into the meeting room to speak about the resolution, alleging that the IRHA definition targets them and does not “adequately define” anti-Semitism.

The student assembly president, Mercedes Owens, allowed the resolution be be presented, stating that it was their right as students to bring it forward, but would not offer her support, telling the newspaper that she allegedly didn't believe in telling the other members of the assembly how to vote on issues.

Wiesenfeild, in an email to the The Daily Pennsylvanian, wrote that she and Kim put forward the resolution to encourage UPenn to “proactively combat anti-Semitism”. She noted a recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. She said that the university needs to have criteria for identifying acts of hatred against minority groups on campus, not just a general plank against hate speech in its student conduct regulations.

"It is critical to have a definition of antisemitism that will educate Penn students on how to identify acts of hate against the Jewish community," Wiesenfeld said.

She and Kim both said that they were disappointed that the resolution did not pass.

“I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to be neutral when it comes to racism and hate speech,” Kim wrote in an email to the student newspaper.