City council to clarify definition of anti-Semitism to stamp out bigotry
BIRMINGHAM City Council is to respond to the rise in anti-Semitism by becoming the latest local authority to adopt an international guideline on the issue.
With anti-Jewish bigotry and abuse on the rise, especially on social media, a growing number of organisations and councils have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
It has proved useful in clarifying when legitimate criticism of Israeli policy in Palestine for example, turns into anti-Semitism.
At least two Birmingham Labour councillors, Waseem Zaffar and Zafar Iqbal, have publicly apologised for overstepping the line, while both the Conservatives and Labour dropped candidates in the Hall Green council by-election last year for sharing Jewish conspiracy theories on line.
Nationally, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has this week been accused of anti-Semitism after talking about the ‘Jewish lobby’ exerting disproportionate influence on US politics during his radio show.
And former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour Party for comments described by leader Jeremy Corbyn as ‘grossly insensitive’ and offensive to the Jewish community.
Birmingham councillors will now be asked to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism at its meeting on Tuesday.
Cllr Ewan Mackey (Conservative, Sutton Trinity), who has proposed the motion, said: “Birmingham has a proud history as a diverse and welcoming city and taking this step will reaffirm our commitment to tackling discrimination and bigotry in all its forms.”
He said it would make it easier to call out and tackle this form of bigotry.
“We are confident that this motion will receive cross-party support to set an example of responsible conduct and allow reports of anti-Semitic hate crime to be handled objectively and uniformly. By adopting this internationally-recognised wording without amendment, we can show that we stand unconditionally and unambiguously with the international community against the scourge of anti-Semitism.”