Barnet Council has become the first UK local authority to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

At a meeting on Tuesday, motions from both Labour councillor Barry Rawlings and Conservative councillor Brian Gordon called for the definition to be adopted and were agreed unanimously by cross-party councillors at the meeting.

Rawlings’ motion stated that “Council expresses alarm at the rise in anti-Semitism in recent years across the UK. This includes incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using anti-Semitic tropes. Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but not if it employs the tropes and imagery of anti-Semitism.”

His motion welcomed the announcement by the UK Government in December that it will sign up to the internationally recognised IHRA guidelines on anti-Semitism which define anti-Semitism as follows: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The definition is supported by the major representative bodies of the Jewish Community including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the European Jewish Congress.

Rawlings said: “In the week of Holocaust Memorial Day when we remember the millions of victims of the Holocaust, we have just had a spate of cowardly anti-Semitic attacks take place in Barnet.
“It is a reminder that we must always be vigilant against crimes motivated by hate and the racism that underpins it.
“We must never forget that the Holocaust did not begin with killing, it began with words.

“Barnet has the largest Jewish population in the country, and it is right and proper that we are the first local authority to adopt this definition of anti-Semitism.