The government is taking fresh steps in the fight against hatred of Jews by formally adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
In a speech today Prime Minister Theresa May explained how tackling anti-Semitism is an essential step in removing the barriers that hold people back. Adopting the international definition will ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being anti-Semitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it.
Britain will be one of the first countries to adopt the definition, agreed by the IHRA, an intergovernmental body made up of 31 member countries, in May this year. It states:
Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
The UK government, supported by post-Holocaust envoy Sir Eric Pickles, has been at the forefront of establishing the agreed international definition and will continue to promote its adoption across the world.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish. Our aim in Britain is the same: to create a better, fairer society, helping everyone to reach as far as their talents will allow.
It is unacceptable that there is anti-Semitism in this country. It is even worse that incidents are reportedly on the rise. As a government we are making a real difference and adopting this measure is a ground-breaking step.
It means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Anti-Semitism must be understood for what it is – an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society. There can be no excuses for anti-Semitism or any other form of racism or prejudice.
Crimes must always be reported, and the law enforced, but we also want to create an environment that prevents hate crime from happening in the first place.
The government has published its response to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into anti-Semitism; and an update on the progress made in addressing the recommendations made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against anti-Semitism Inquiry into the rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents following the Gaza conflict, published in 2015.
The responses will demonstrate the significant progress made against a number of the recommendations including work being undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police to publicise arrests and prosecutions relating to anti-Semitism.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is an intergovernmental body, comprising 31 member nations whose purpose is to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally. The new definition of anti-Semitism was adopted during their plenary meetings in Bucharest in May 2016.
Police forces already use a version of the IHRA definition, which is described as a useful tool which assists officers identify what could constitute anti-Semitism.
The government’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism have been recognised by the Home Affairs Select Committee and the APPG against anti-Semitism and has been internationally recognised as best practice. The government’s success and relationship with the Jewish community has been built on the solid work of the cross-government working group on tackling anti-Semitism, which help make sure that we are alive to any issues and concerns of the Jewish community and can respond quickly.
The government has provided more than £13.4 million to ensure the security of Jewish faith schools, synagogues and communal buildings following concerns raised by the Jewish community.
The Hate Crime Action Plan published in July 2016 includes action to tackle hate crime and incidents online, on public transport and in schools. The Plan includes support for True Vision an on-line reporting facility; the Anne Frank Trust, which works with young people to help them challenge prejudice and hatred; Streetwise, which tackles so-called ‘casual’ anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred in school playgrounds.