There’s no room for com­pla­cency, but we’re not alone in our strug­gle

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY PHIL ROSEN­BERG

LAST WEEK’S record-high an­ti­semitism fig­ures, re­leased by the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust, made for con­cern­ing read­ing and were a call to ac­tion. In this con­text of ris­ing abuse, it sim­ply beg­gars be­lief that Haringey coun­cil­lors were heck­led when they voted to adopt a def­i­ni­tion of an­ti­semitism.

But as much as this sit­u­a­tion shows there can be no room for com­pla­cency, we can take heart from the fact we are not alone in this strug­gle.

Up and down the coun­try, from Bar­net to Bury, from Sal­ford to South Ty­ne­side, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are act­ing in sol­i­dar­ity with our com­mu­nity and fol­low­ing the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion in adopt­ing the In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Al­liance’s an­ti­semitism def­i­ni­tion af­ter years of ad­vo­cacy by the Board of Deputies and oth­ers to adopt a def­i­ni­tion of this sort.

As a lo­cal Labour coun­cil­lor my­self, I was proud to be part of Cam­den Coun­cil’s suc­cess­ful ef­fort to adopt the IHRA def­i­ni­tion in April this year. Mean­while, at the Board, we have been en­cour­ag­ing sup­port for the IHRA def­i­ni­tion at our sem­i­nars for coun­cil­lors around the UK, and it will be part of the new Jewish Man­i­festo for Coun­cil­lors that we will be launch­ing in the com­ing months. We have also been call­ing for uni­ver­si­ties to fol­low the pos­i­tive lead set by coun­cils.

Not all of the adop­tions have been plain-sail­ing. But when mem­bers of Haringey’s lo­cal Mo­men­tum shrieked at coun­cil­lors to try and cow them into giv­ing racism a free-pass, they showed them­selves up for what they are. Jeremy Cor­byn him­self adopted the def­i­ni­tion for the Labour Party and Mo­men­tum’s na­tional lead­er­ship distanced it­self from the Haringey protests in a state­ment. Labour and Mo­men­tum need to get a whole lot bet­ter at show­ing the door to peo­ple who would be more at home in the Bri­tish Na­tional Party.

It was dis­ap­point­ing that some lo­cal Mus­lims joined th­ese trolls in their lit­tle “rally for hate”. In a neigh­bour­hood where sy­n­a­gogues hosted the lo­cal Bra­vanese So­mali Mus­lim com­mu­nity af­ter their mosque was torched in a heinous hate crime, lo­cal Jews should have been able to ex­pect their Mus­lim neigh­bours would stand along­side them in say­ing an­ti­semitism is not OK. I am sure most of Haringey’s Mus­lims agree.

Those who took part in this demon­stra­tion did noth­ing for com­mu­nity co­he­sion, or to tackle un­fair nega­tive im­ages of Mus­lims, so of­ten the vic­tims of racism and sus­pi­cion them­selves. Those re­spon­si­ble need to reach out to lo­cal Jewish com­mu­ni­ties to un­der­stand the hurt they have caused and why this def­i­ni­tion is im­por­tant.

We can take heart from this process of adop­tions of the IHRA def­i­ni­tion. We should com­mend our friends in Haringey and around the coun­try for stand­ing up to the bul­lies and do­ing what’s right. As a com­mu­nity we may have many en­e­mies, but we have many al­lies as well. With them along­side us, we will pre­vail in our fight against the an­ti­semites.

Phil Rosen­berg is Di­rec­tor of Public Af­fairs at the Board of Deputies, a coun­cil­lor in Cam­den, and co-chair of the bor­ough’s Faith Lead­ers’ Fo­rum

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