Hackney Town Hall

Town Hall: the motion is tabled for next week’s Hackney council meeting

Hackney Council is set to vote on adopting a definition of anti-semitism which has seen protests in other boroughs by anti-Israel campaigners.

A motion tabled for next week’s council meeting (21 February) by Conservative Party councillor Harvey Odze would see Hackney adopt the anti-semitism definition to “combat this pernicious form of racism”.

Last year there were 92 anti-semitic incidents in Hackney, according to the Community Security Trust, amid a national rise in anti-semitic incidents to 1,382.

The UK government signed up to the working definition of anti-semitism drafted by the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in December 2016.

The definition has since been adopted by 125 local authorities, according to the Jewish Leadership Council, with 18 of them in London, including Newham, Islington, Camden, Haringey and Tower Hamlets.

However, the definition has met some opposition over its guidelines on the relationship between anti-semitism and criticism of the state of Israel.

Protests and heckling took place last July during a council vote on the motion in Haringey, where the then council leader Claire Kober, who recently stepped down, has spoken of anti-semitism by Labour Party activists.

The IHRA definition states: “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.”

Its guidelines say “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.

But it says some “manifestations” of anti-semitism “might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”.

It gives as examples using anti-semitic images to represent Israel or Israelis, likening “contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”, holding all Jews responsible for Israel’s actions, or “claiming the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”.