Council commits to tackle antisemitism

Liverpool City Council has pledged to fight antisemitism.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday 24 January, the local authority voted to sign up to the guidelines agreed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in relation to the hate crime.

It follows a 30 percent rise in antisemitic attacks during the first six months of 2017, according to figures from the Community Security Trust.

Liverpool Rabbi, Dr Martin van den Bergh (pictured right), addressed elected members at the Town Hall and told councillors of the personal physical attacks and verbal abuse he has suffered.

Liverpool Rabbi, Dr Martin van den Bergh, addressing full council

He said: “Liverpool has a proud history of welcoming peoples from many different cultures and different faiths and all underpinned by upholding the respect of the other whatever their faith or no faith, of whatever race or sexual orientation, and all coming together to build a vibrant and welcoming city.

“Antisemitism is the antithesis of respecting others, because as Lord Sacks further suggests, hatred which begins with the Jews, never ends with the Jews. Therefore, we must not tolerate antisemitism just as we must not tolerate any other kind of prejudice, in whatever form it may be. Because, even words can have catastrophic consequences as we have seen with the Holocaust and other acts of genocide in Ruanda, Darfur, Cambodia, and other countries around the world.”

He added: “I applaud and thank you all for endorsing the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism.”

The motion was brought by Councillors Jeremy Wolfson, Richard Wenstone and Clare McIntyre.

Councillor Jeremy Wolfson, a member of the city’s Jewish community and the council’s lead on Holocaust Memorial Day, said: “The local Jewish community are delighted that Liverpool City Council has taken the important step of adopting the IHRA definition on antisemitism.

“Given the troubling rise in hate crime against the UK Jewish community, it is vital that there is a clear and practical definition that will allow the Council to fight antisemitism.

“The Jewish community has always widely acknowledged that antisemitism mutates over time and manifests itself in different ways. Crucially, the definition adopted by IHRA is endorsed by professionals, taking into account age old stereotypes and tropes.

“There can be no excuse for antisemitism in any section of society and the IHRA definition commits the Council to fight as an entity this pernicious and unacceptable form of racism.

“It is particularly pertinent that the definition is being passed during Holocaust Memorial Week. The reflections that will take place across the country, will highlight how important it is for everyone to respect the beliefs of others and fight prejudice wherever it is found.”