Brent Council responds to CAA antisemitism definition audit

Brent Council responds to CAA antisemitism definition audit

A campaign group accused Brent Council of taking a “confused approach” when it comes to its definition of antisemitism after two separate motions were passed on the subject.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) released an audit report in August, which examined local authorities’ adoption of the working definition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

In Brent’s case, it noted the definition accepted at a full council meeting in 2017 included an “unacceptable” amendment that equated the Jewish people’s right to self-determination with the rights of the Palestinian people.

However, at a similar meeting a year later, the council agreed to place “the full and complete IHRA definition” into its councillor and employee codes of conduct.

A spokesman for CAA said this had not been raised during its conversations with the council in preparation for the report, and he urged Brent to rectify this going forward.

He said: “Brent has taken a confused approach to the adoption of the international definition of antisemitism, having taken upon itself in 2017 to alter it to the effect that Jews can only benefit from their rights if they also champion the rights of others, which is an unacceptable condition that would not be imposed on any minority.

“But then, in 2018, Brent rightly resolved to adopt the full definition into its codes of conduct for councillors and employees.

“In correspondence, the local authority is not entirely sure on which adoption to rely when communicating with third parties.

“Brent ought to clarify the position and confirm the full definition has been adopted by the council and incorporated into the codes of conduct.”

A spokeswoman for Brent Council explained that, as part of the 2018 motion, it would move to “implement policies to ensure that hate crimes against Jewish people are acted upon quickly and decisively”.

The audit found that, in London, around three-quarters (76 per cent) of councils adopted the definition in full, with the remaining boroughs passing it but without all the examples given by the IHRA.

This was a far greater proportion than the rest of England, where just 25 per cent of local authorities have adopted it in full.

Almost six in ten (59 per cent) have not officially adopted the definition in any manner, while the remaining 16 per cent have done so but without every IHRA example.

Gideon Falter, chief executive of CAA, said this represents a “shortcoming” in national and cross-party policy and urged politicians to help tackle this issue urgently.

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