Battling the ‘IHRA definition’: Theory & Activism

Registration is now closed, and we are working to respond to the overwhelming interest in the conference! Due to limitations on attendance, filling out the registration request form does not immediately register you for the convening. Everyone who signed up will receive a reply. If you are connected with ICSZ or part of an organization that is working on the conference, you can email to ask about late registration.


Read letters of support for the ICSZ conference

Jewish Voice for Peace to UC Santa Cruz administrators:
Read the full letter: “In the context of grieving all the lives lost this weekend and in remaining committed to a future where all people live in freedom and safety, we note that, while Israel has declared war on Gaza, its war on Palestinians started over 75 years ago. As we write elsewhere, Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression — are the source of all this violence. We have come to this position through study; we therefore uphold the ICSZ’s right to study Zionism and insist that it is not antisemitic to do so.”

About the conference

We are thrilled to announce the first convening of the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism in October 2023! This inaugural gathering will bring together ICSZ’s community of scholars and activists to build and share knowledge about how “the IHRA definition of antisemitism” both amplifies and hides repressive power and state violence.

As detailed below, this is a working meeting for scholars and activists of ICSZ’s community, particularly those engaged in researching and confronting the repressive use of “the IHRA definition” to foreclose critical discussion and scholarship on Zionism. A selection of papers and videos of presentations will, however, be published after the event.

What it’s about: Sessions will explore the political, historical, and cultural conditions that enable IHRA campaigns, and share theoretical insights and organizing tools to support resistance. This event focuses on North American academia, government, and institutions while additionally mapping the ways IHRA is making incursions internationally. It will highlight victories, successful strategies, and paths of ongoing organizing.

Who should come: This is an ICSZ organizational convening for academics and activists who are battling the “IHRA definition” — including students, researchers, faculty, organizers, artists, and activists — to build knowledge and develop strategies to advance that work. ICSZ warmly welcomes allied scholars and activists to join our research community.

Presenting research by activists and academics: The convening is structured by eight panels dedicated to theorizing, mapping, and political education. Presentations draw from the rich, wide-ranging landscape of academic, activist and community work that focuses not only on the “IHRA definition” itself, but also on the cultural, intellectual and political conditions that lend it power, its impacts, and our modes of resistance to it.

Building our organizing: The convening will include an organizing lunch on both days for local activist groups to connect individuals and organizations, share materials, and focus on building attendees’ support networks to push back on IHRA campaigns.

Starting points: This convening is the inaugural event of the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism. We invite you to read the Institute’s points of unity which are the basis for the Institute’s research community. We anticipate that our discussions will be accompanied by a set of materials that share essential information, definitions, and other knowledge. The purpose is to be able to bring together attendees from a range of backgrounds, without assuming that everyone is well-versed in all areas of the work to battle IHRA. We hope these materials will allow presenters to bring us in-depth discussion of their topics. (If your activist organization would like to co-sponsor and help curate these materials, please be in touch!)

Updates & deadlines: The call for proposals is now closed.

Logistics: The convening will take place in the intellectual space of UC Santa Cruz (Oct. 13) and NYU (Oct. 14). Participants at each site will be invited to join the other site remotely.

Online attendance: When you register for in-person attendance in either Santa Cruz or New York, you will be invited (and strongly encouraged) to attend the other day online. The meeting is not organized as an all-remote event — we are trying to build our community and ideas in ways that work much better when we’re together! However, for comrades who are involved in this work but can’t make it, we will have limited slots for all-online attendance.


Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism

American Friends Service Committee

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program, SFSU

British Committee for the Universities of Palestine

Center for Creative Ecologies, UC Santa Cruz

Center for Racial Justice, UC Santa Cruz

Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Department, UC Santa Cruz


Democratic Socialists of America International Committee

DSA Santa Cruz

DSA Santa Cruz’s BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group

Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University

Jewish Voice for Labour

Jewish Voice for Peace

National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP)

NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine

Palestine Justice Coalition

ReThinking Foreign Policy

Sparkplug Foundation

Students for Justice in Palestine at CUNY Law

Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice

UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council

U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)

2023 “Battling IHRA: Theory & Activism” Planning Collective (partial/in formation):

Rabab Abdulhadi, AMED Studies Program, San Francisco State University/Teaching Palestine

M. Muhannad Ayyash, Mount Royal University

Dov Baum, PhD

Arlo Fosberg, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Emmaia Gelman, Sarah Lawrence College

Yulia Gilich

Terri Ginsberg, USACBI

Christine Hong, Critical Race & Ethnic Studies and Literature, UC Santa Cruz

Jennifer Kelly, Feminist Studies and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Arun Kundnani

Sean L. Malloy, University of California, Merced

Jennifer Mogannam, Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Sheryl Nestel, Independent Jewish Voices

Lisa Rofel, National Board, Jewish Voice for Peace; Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz

Jenna Sharkawy