Lancashire County Council adopts anti-Semitism definition

Lancashire County Council has adopted a widely-recognised definition of anti-Semitism.

The government last year requested that all local authorities take on the wording drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) – or explain their “reluctance to do so”.

County Hall in Preston

County Hall in Preston

The authority’s cabinet voted to approved the IHRA definition, which describes anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward [them]”.

Conservative cabinet member for economic development Michael Green said that it was “regrettable in the twenty-first century” that there had been a rise in anti-Semitism nationally and internationally.

“Anything that we can do to counter that is the right way forward,” he added.

Labour group deputy leader John Fillis said that the party was “very happy to support” the move – and also requested a future update on County Hall’s broader strategy to combat all forms of hate crime.

The IHRA definition adds that: “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 organisation – an intergovernmental body of more than 30 countries – also supplies a list of 11 working examples of anti-Semitism.

These include denying or exaggerating the Holocaust and calling for, or justifying, the killing of Jews – as well as comparing the present-day actions of the state of Israel to those of Nazi Germany.

Other forms of anti-Semitism incorporated into the definition cover those making “demonising or stereotypical allegations about Jews…or the power of Jews as a collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions”.

However, papers presented to cabinet members said that criticism of the state of Israel, similar to that levelled at any other country, cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

Figures show that, nationally, the proportion of religiously-motivated hate crime attributed to anti-Semitism jumped from 12 to 18 percent in the year to October 2019.

The government adopted the IHRA’s full definition in 2016. The national Labour Party followed suit two years later after an internal debate about whether to accept all of the working examples.