European Jewish Congress
London-area council votes to recognise international definition of antisemitism
United Kingdom
London-area council votes to recognise international definition of antisemitism

A municipal authority in NW London has voted to adopt an extended definition of antisemitism that includes criticism of Israel, but not before last-minute amendments.

Councillor Joel Davidson of the Conservative Party on Brent Council had earlier submitted that the council adopt the new International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, including the definition’s much-criticised working examples.

One amendment, submitted by Councillor Reg Colwill, also on behalf of the Conservatives, sought to withdraw the IHRA examples from the Brent motion, instead only using the IHRA’s main definition.

The working examples, listed in bullet points, are designed to explain how antisemitism can manifest itself through behaviour or comment, but critics say this risks limiting free speech. Examples include the argument that Israel is a racist state, or the requirement to hold Israel to a different or higher standard than other states.

Council members voted not to allow Colwell’s amendment, and instead debated the motion that included the working examples.

Davidson said: “We strongly support the original motion which we believe to be essential to join over 100 other local authorities who have signed up… There has been some dispute about the rise in hate crimes and the effects on the Jewish community but I think everyone at Brent must be aware that antisemitism is at its highest level since formal records began.”

The IHRA definition states that 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”.

Labour Councillor Shafique Choudhary proposed another amendment, suggesting that one particular example – denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination – be changed to reflect an equal right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. This met with widespread support in the Council and was adopted, Davidson being the only councillor to vote against Choudhary’s amendment.

The Council then overwhelmingly voted to adopt Davidson’s motion but with Choudhary’s amendment, with only independent Councillor Helen Carr voting against and four abstentions.

Philip Rosenberg, director of public affairs at the Board of Deputies, on Tuesday thanked Brent councillors for passing the motion, saying: “The fact that you did so with cross party support and without any votes against is a tribute to the commitment of Brent to come together to supporting all of its communities.”

Click here to read the full article in Jewish News

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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