Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Board of Deputies intervene in Brent anti-Semitism debate

Cllr Nerva during last night's Council debate on the Hate Crime and Anti-Semitism motions referred to a letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to Brent councillors. This is the letter.

Dear councillors,
This Jewish New Year, please help us make antisemitism a thing of the past
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the national representative body of the UK Jewish community, to ask you to pass tonight’s motion to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism and its appended list of examples which give clarity about what does – and does not – constitute contemporary antisemitism.
As you may know, antisemitism is at its highest level since formal records began in the 1980s, with the Community Security Trust recording 1309 incidents in 2016, a 36% increase on the previous year. After the Government and the Official Opposition adopted the definition in December last year, we believe the adoption of the definition at every level increases the resilience of our society to hateful discourse about Jews, and helps educate people about the forms that antisemitism takes.
Our community is a diverse one, and on any topic there will be individuals with a range of views. However, on this issue there is a very strong consensus. While I understand that some individuals may have written to you, our organisation - with its 180 affiliate synagogues and Jewish charities, representing the range of Jewish observance and involvement – including all six synagogues in Brent – offers the most definitive view.   
Some people have been concerned that passing this motion will mean that nobody can ever criticise the State of Israel. In the UK, there are few stronger supporters of Israel and its people than the Board of Deputies of British Jews, but I can nonetheless assure you that this motion does no such thing. Indeed, the criticism of any government, including Israel’s, is a legitimate and necessary part of democratic discourse.
However, the IHRA definition gives a few examples of where criticism of Israel might, under certain circumstances and dependant on context, be antisemitic. This would include calls for attacks on Jews, Holocaust-related comments, talk of a Jewish conspiracy, or comments that single out Israel in a particular way with a standard not applied to other countries. We need to be clear: Making racist comments about Jews will not help Israelis or Palestinians to attain the peaceful or secure future that both communities so urgently need.
This Wednesday, Jews in Brent and around the World will start to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We hope that we can count on you to make Brent the 101st local authority to pass the motion, and show the borough’s Jews that they have the full support of Brent Council in tackling antisemitism. Let us work together to make the coming year a year free of all forms of hate and prejudice.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you a Shana Tova u-Metuka, a Happy and Sweet Jewish New Year,
Philip Rosenberg
Director of Public Affairs
I am hoping to post a video of the debate later but here is a link to the Brent Council recording LINK


Kalmanovitz said...

While Zionist organisations report a rise in antisemitism, it must be taken in context; that there is a rise in hate crime in general, in particular a much greater rise in hate crime against Muslims and other people of colour, immigrant people, LGBT people, and people with disabilities.

Support for the IHRA Definition has been based on a sensationalised and elevated account of antisemitism which has utterly ignored that most antisemitic attacks are from the far-right against ultra-orthodox Jews.

This definition of antisemitism helps defend Israel from criticism, it obscures other forms of racism, it has been used to undermine the Palestinian movement, it has been used to attack Corbyn and the Left, it chills free speech, including here in Brent.

BloggerAlways said...

Appallingly the Brent Councillors voted to dilute the IHRA Definition