Communities Secretary urges councils to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism

Communities Secretary urges councils to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism

Letter sent to local authorities by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick calls for adoption of international definition of antisemitism

Robert Jenrick
Robert Jenrick

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has urged local authorities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism in a drive to stamp out racism.

Jenrick, who was named Communities Secretary in July, wrote to local councils last week, urging leaders to adhere to the international definition of antisemitism, formally adopted by the Government last year.

The intergovernmental organisation’s definition of antisemitism defines antisemitism as a “certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”

It states that physical and verbal examples can be directed towards Jews and non-Jews, as well as Jewish groups and religious facilities.

Its 11 accompanying examples include accusing “Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel” and “denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality” of the Holocaust.

Jenrick revealed his plans last month, telling a meeting of the Board of Deputies that local councils have “a duty to act and to stamp out antisemitism wherever they find it. So I do find it troubling in some cases that we are seeing the reverse.”

“I will be writing to all councils insisting that they adopt the IHRA at the earliest opportunity and use it at all appropriate occasions — including in their disciplinary proceedings,” he told the Board.

Describing boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel as “divisive,” he accused local authorities of “wasting time and taxpayers’ money pursuing their own foreign policy, often seemingly obsessed with Zionism to the detriment of delivering high quality services for local residents”.

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