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Tower Hamlets Council will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

PUBLISHED: 18:18 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:20 21 September 2018

Peter Golds put forward the motion to the Labour majority authority. Pic: Mike Brooke

Peter Golds put forward the motion to the Labour majority authority. Pic: Mike Brooke

Archant

Tower Hamlets Council has unanimously agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday Conservative councillor Peter Golds put forward the motion to the Labour majority authority.

Coincidently the meeting was held on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Cllr Golds said: “Exactly 78 years ago the Jews of Warsaw were permitted to say prayers by the Nazis.

“They emerged to discover placard telling them they were all to be confined to a small area and they had a matter of days to move to that area.

“They would have to build a wall around, provide the slave labour and, incidentally, pay for it. That is the personification of Jew hatred.

He added: “This is about the irrational hatred of people who are Jews. And that is people like me. You may not like my politics, you may not like other things about me but [antisemitism] is a terrible irrational hatred, sometimes called the longest hatred in the world.

“I’m delighted that this [definition] has been acknowledged throughout the world by governments and local authorities. It has been accepted by authorities with all different political parties who just want to say for them the idea of Jew hatred must never happen again.”

Canary Wharf Conservative councillor Andrew Wood supported the motion.

He said: “I am half-German. I don’t think my grandparents were members of the Nazi party but they were from that section of society who went along with what the Nazis did.

“It is one of the great mysteries of my life. How did these lovely, rational people go along with what the Nazis did? A lot of local authorities- the GLA, the Welsh Government, the UK Government- they have adopted this definition and it is time we did something. This is not party political.”

A total of 131 councils across the UK have adopted the IHRA definition. It defines antisemitism as: “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.”

It adds that targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collective can be regarded as antisemitic.

However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said: “It is important that we do this. It is the right thing to do given the recent context and controversy and given the history of this borough in standing up to, and challenging racism.”

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