UK City Council Adopts Internationally-Recognized Antisemitism Definition
The city council of Brighton and Hove in England passed a resolution on Thursday adopting an internationally-recognized definition of antisemitism, drawing praise from leaders of the local Jewish community.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition and its 11 supporting examples — endorsed by 31 countries including the UK and US — was approved by a vote of 46 to none, with one abstention.
The Sussex Jewish Representative Council, which caters to the approximately 3,000 Jewish people who live in Brighton, Hove, and Sussex, said the city council’s vote brought it “in line with the 143 other councils across the country.”
The definition gives the community “the protection it needs against the growing tide of antisemitism we are seeing in this country,” the statement continued, pointing to recent figures released by the UK Home Office showing a 40 percent rise in hate crimes in 2017-18 over the previous year.
The measure was supported by council members from the Labour, Conservative, Co-operative, and Green parties, the latter of which acknowledged the criticism previously leveled at the IHRA definition’s illustrative examples, particularly by some members of Labour and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
The most contentious among these calls efforts to deny “the Jewish people their right to self-determination … by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” antisemitic.
The Greens, in their statement, pledged to “combat anti-Semitism by continuing to show zero tolerance to prejudice, discrimination and hate.”
“Greens will powerfully address any misapplication of the IHRA by continuing to champion the rights of the Palestinian people to peace, freedom and justice,” they continued.
The resolution nonetheless attracted opposition from the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which claimed it would restrict civil liberties, “privilege antisemitism above all other forms of race hatred,” and silence pro-Palestinian activism.
Big crowd outside Hove Town Hall today voicing opposition to city council’s proposed adoption of the IHRA definition. “Unnecessary, misguided, damaging.” #ApartheidIsrael #FreePalestine pic.twitter.com/i5fKHEuIdP
— Brighton PSC (@BrightonPSC) October 18, 2018
The Labour Party has under Corbyn’s leadership been accused by the UK Jewish community of failing to sufficiently address antisemitism within its ranks. The party adopted the full IHRA definition with all its supporting examples in September, two months after it controversially sanctioned a code of conduct that omitted four examples — including those calling Israel’s existence racist, comparing the actions of Israelis to Nazis, and accusing Jews of dual loyalty.
Corbyn sought at the time to pass an amendment to the definition asserting that it should not “be regarded as antisemitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist,” but failed to rally enough support. However, the party did append a clause to the definition emphasizing the right to “free speech” on Israel, which some criticized as an unnecessary and potentially harmful qualification.