Tower Hamlets councillors refuse amendments to definition of anti-semitism

Protesters against the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism address Tower Hamlets full c

Protesters against the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism address Tower Hamlets full council. Picture: Rachael Burford - Credit: Archant

Protesters who claim Tower Hamlets Council’s adoption of the official definition of anti-semitism is stifling their free speech addressed councillors for the second time on Wednesday night.

Campaigners told the council they wanted amendments to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) statement on anti-semitism, including that the council will "recognise the state of Palestine [and] educate residents on the plight of the Palestinian people".

The group claimed the adoption of the definition in 2018 had "contributed" to the borough's cancellation of the Big Ride for Palestine - a charity event in aid of Palestinian children.

Sybil Cock told the full council meeting: "Just over a year ago we brought an almost identical petition. We were assured that it would not impact our ability to campaign for Palestinian rights. However this has not been the case."

Councillors refused to accept amendments to the definition.

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Mayor John Biggs said that the IHRA statement had been adopted by councils across the UK, as well as political parties.

It states that targeting the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collective can be regarded as anti-semitic. But criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country is not.

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Mr Biggs added: "It is right that people should be able to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. The IHRA definition made no play in the cancellation [of the Big Ride For Palestine]."

Jewish councillor Peter Golds said he was "disturbed" to see the petition at full council again.

He added: "This petition is designed to negate the IHRA definition of anti-semitism."

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