UK Free Speech Tsar appears to support fraudulent IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

Arif Ahmed

Arif Ahmed, a Cambridge philosophy professor, is to become the government’s first “free speech tsar” for higher education in England. He will oversee a regime that could fine universities and student unions. The biggest issue on campuses is the transgender debate and Zionist attacks on Palestine activism – but it was the latter that Professor Ahmed singled out for attention. 

In his 1 June interview to The Times, he said:

The IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance} working definition [of anti-Semitism] is an important tool for understanding how anti-Semitism manifests itself in the twenty-first century. Adopting it sends a strong signal to students and staff facing anti-Semitism.”
The chair of One Democratic Palestine wrote to Professor Ahmed decrying his support for the IHRA definition, pointing out that it targeted pro-Palestine supporters in claiming criticism of Israel was anti-Semitic, an email to which the professor responded. (Previously, Prof. Ahmed was critical of the IHRA definition, but with the chance of a government job, he appears to have “flipped”.)

Prof Ahmed devoted almost a quarter of his article, which can be downloaded here, to the IHRA. In it, he says he had no evidence that the IHRA definition had been used to suppress academic freedom of speech. When we referred him to the the European Legal Support Centre report of 6 June, which documents just a few British examples where it does (see pages 26 onwards), he did not respond.

Curiously, Jewish Voice for Labour thought his appointment boded well.

See the communications with the professor at

If you would like to be part in a campaign to convince Professor Ahmed that the IHRA definition is fraudulent and politicised, please send an email to [email protected].


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