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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Brent councillors urged to oppose anti-semitism but support free speech on Israel-Palestine

Brent and Harrow PSC have written to Brent councillors about the motion on anti-Semitism to be discussed at the Council meeting on Monday 18th September.
Dear Councillor 

RE: Full Council – 18 September 2017
Motion selected by the Conservative Group ADOPTION OF INTERNATIONAL
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE ALLIANCE DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM
Councillor Joel Davidson Brondesbury Park Ward 

We welcome the discussion on how to combat anti-Semitism in the ongoing battle against racism in all its forms. 

The International Holocaust Remember Association’s definition is as follows:
“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.” 
However, the guidance issued by the IHRA uses a number of controversial examples of forms of anti-Semitism, most of which (7/11) refer to Israel. We submit that the effect of adopting the guidance would be to prevent criticism of the actions of the Israeli State and of a legitimate critique of Zionism as a political ideology. For example, the guidance states that to call Israel a racist enterprise can be anti-Semitic. This has been used to describe anyone who refers to Israel as an apartheid state as ‘anti-Semitic’ and to withdraw meeting facilities from them.  Similarly, the example of not holding Israel to a standard has been used to say calling for boycott is anti -Semitic, which in the opinion of eminent QC Hugh Tomlinson is a threat to legally protected freedom of expression. 

Mixing the issue of anti-Semitism with the policies and actions of the Israeli State, it is likely to make it harder to identify and oppose anti-Semitism, a goal to which we are all committed. DETAILS

If you wish to support the adoption of the (38 word) definition, we ask therefore, that this does not include the highly controversial guidance. In this way, opposition to anti-Semitism is made clear, without any limitation of legitimate criticism of the Israeli State or the ideology of Zionism.

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