Agenda item

Motion under Council Procedure Rule 14 - International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism

Minutes:

Councillor Rosie Kirk, Portfolio Holder for Reducing Inequalities, in presenting a motion highlighted that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance was initiated in 1998 and that its aim was to unite Governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance, and to uphold the commitments to the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.

 

The Alliance’s network was formed of trusted experts who shared their knowledge on early warning signs of present-day genocide and education on the Holocaust. This knowledge supported policymakers and educational curricular, with the key eight focus areas of the Alliance being:

 

-        Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial

-        Archives and Research

-        Education

-        Holocaust, Genocide & Crimes Against Humanity

-        Genocide of the Roma

-        Killing Sites

-        Preserving Sites

-        Remembrance


The Association’s membership consisted of 33 member countries, with each country recognising that international political coordination was imperative to strengthen the moral commitment of societies and to combat growing Holocaust denial and antisemitism. It co-operated closely with eight other governmental bodies which included Holocaust-related issues as part of their mandate. These eight governmental bodies were:

 

-        United Nations

-        UNESCO

-        Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

-        International Tracing Service

-        European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

-        European Union

-        Council of Europe

-        Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

 

 

The UK Government formally adopted the Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism on 12 December 2016, which was as follows:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

 

In addition the UK Government adopted the following 11 contemporary examples of antisemitism as part of Government policy:

 

·        calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion;

·        making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as 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;

·        accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews;

·        denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust);

·        accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;

·        accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations;

·        denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor;

·        applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;

·        using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis;

·        drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis;

·        holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

 

The Stockholm Declaration was the outcome of the International Forum held in Stockholm in January 2000. The forum was attended by representatives from governments around the world and focused on Holocaust education, remembrance and research. During the forum all attendees signed a declaration committing to preserving the memory of those who had been lost in the Holocaust. This became the 2000 Stockholm Declaration and had remained intact and unaltered, demonstrating its universal and enduring value.

Councillor Kirk therefore proposed that the Council:

 

(1)      Resolved to adopt the definition of antisemitism in full as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

 

(2)      Pledged to combat this pernicious form of racism wherever it manifests itself no matter where, how or when.

 

(3)      Reaffirmed its condemnation of all forms of racism and discrimination based on religious belief (including Islamophobia), disability, race, gender or sexual orientation.

 

Councillor Lucinda Preston seconded the motion and expressed her sadness that the measure was so necessary. She reflected that antisemitism reflected one of the oldest forms of prejudice and that the holocaust was perhaps claimed or perceived as an isolated incident when in fact Jewish people had been the subject of persecution for hundreds of years. Such abuse was often subtle or carefully worded but unfortunately Councillor Preston reported that it was on the rise and called for everyone to be vigilant. There were approximately 280,000 Jewish people in the country, which represented one of the smallest minorities, with there being a small Jewish community in the city of Lincoln. Councillor Preston reflected on and shared her personal experiences of her visit to the Holocaust Education Centre near Newark. She said that the Council had done so much work to battle prejudice and sought the authority to demonstrate its support and solidarity towards the Jewish community.

 

Councillor Hilton Spratt supported the motion and shared his personal experiences of having visiting concentration camps in Poland, including Auschwitz.

 

Councillor Chris Burke highlighted the importance of the content of this motion to Lincoln’s Jewish community.

 

Councillor Ric Metcalfe paid tribute to the moving speeches made in support of the motion. He reminded members that the Council had put equalities policies in place for many years but agreed that it was still necessary to support this motion in respect of antisemitism. This was both to recognise that antisemitism still existed in society and to provide a definition, making it absolutely clear what was meant by the term ‘antisemitism’. Supporting this motion would reassert this Council’s commitment to combat not just antisemitism but any form of racism.

 

Councillor Ronald Hills shared his personal experiences of having visited both the Holocaust Education Centre and the concentration camp at Auschwitz. He fully supported the motion and the stance that the City Council would decry any form of discrimination.

 

Councillor Edmund Strengiel shared his father’s personal experiences of having served in Poland during World War II.

 

Councillor Jane Loffhagen reported that antisemitism was very prevalent in the city and encouraged anyone witnessing any form of such behaviour to take necessary action on behalf of those people who were suffering this abuse.

 

RESOLVED that the motion be approved.

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