Northants County Council adopts anti-semitism definition

Northamptonshire County Council's headquarters, Angel Square
Northamptonshire County Council's headquarters, Angel Square

Northamptonshire County Council has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of anti-semitism.

At its full council meeting last week (Sept 20) councillors from all political parties joined to vote to accept the motion put forward by Cllr Robert Gough.

The motion proposed has been adopted by a number of local authorities across the country in recent months.

It said: “This council expresses alarm at the rise in anti-semitism in recent years across the UK including incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using anti-semitism tropes.

“Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but not if it employs the tropes and imagery of anti-semitism.”

The council has also resolved to acknowledge the importance of tackling anti-semitism in Northamptonshire.

At the meeting Cllr Gough spoke of his wife Victoria’s Jewish grandfather Robert Schechter, who came to Britain from Vienna as part of the Kinder-transport evacuation just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

After describing some of the anti-semitic actions carried out against Jews, he said: “We need to send a strong message that this will not be tolerated in Northamptonshire.

“When we start creating an out group, whether it be based on race, religion, or class, we start the process of dehumanisation. When this is allowed to continue, the very worst in humanity can appear.”

Cllr Richard Auger was one of a number of councillors to speak in favour of the motion.

He said: “One of the biggest challenges we have in today’s society is that we forget. There is also a culture of indifference and the result leads to the persecution of minority and religious groups.

“This is a real timely motion and none of us will stay passive on this issue.”

Labour member Anjona Roy, who is also chief executive of Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, said she ‘had no doubt that anti-semitism was happening in Northamptonshire’ as it is across the country.

She said: “If we really want to take this issue seriously and stand against all types of racism then we should be judged by our actions.

“So let’s put some resources behind it.”

Barnet Council was the first to adopt the IRHA definition in February 2017.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service