Council meetings

Agenda item

Motion 1 proposed Cllr Rathbone seconded Cllr Moore


The Chair agreed to use her Constitutional discretion and changed the order

of the agenda by taking this motion immediately after Item 5, Public



The Head of Law was questioned concerning the legal advice which was

tabled in connection with this motion and she confirmed her advice was purely



The motion was moved by Councillor Rathbone and seconded by Councillor

Moore. Following contributions from Councillors Bonavia, Slater, the Mayor

and Councillor Hall, the motion was then put to the vote and declared to be

unanimously carried.


RESOLVED that the following motion be agreed:


Lewisham Council is concerned by the rise in hate crime and racism across

the UK and the wider world. Lewisham is proud of its diverse community, and

works to tackle discrimination in all its forms. As part of this work we believe

that we must establish clear definitions of what is and isn’t acceptable as part

of our Equalities Policy, whether this relates to gender, disability, sexuality or

discrimination against people on the grounds of race, religion or culture.


2017 saw the highest recorded level of antisemitism in over twenty years, with

the recorded level for 2018 being only slightly lower. Antisemitism accounts

for 12% of all religious hate crime in the UK, despite the Jewish population

being less than 0.5% of the total population. Roughly 75% of antisemitic

incidents occur in Greater London and Manchester.


Antisemitism comes in many forms, such as physical violence, vandalism and

criminal damage, but also as verbal and online abuse. It is increasingly

common to see antisemitism disguised as criticism of Israel, or criticism of

Israel expressed via anti-Semitic tropes, conspiracies and language. This

definition does not in any way undermine freedom of speech regarding the

Israeli Government or its actions. Whilst this criticism can be legitimate, that is

not the case if it stems from antisemitism, or is expressed using the tropes

and imagery of antisemitism.


The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of

Antisemitism and its examples is the only definition supported by the Jewish

community of the UK, as represented by their communal organisations the

Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies. The IHRA Definition

and its examples has already been adopted by the Government of the UK and

over 130 Local Authorities, as well as numerous other national and

international bodies, including both the European Union and United Nations.


It is also noted that nothing in the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, or in other

documents with a bearing on the Authority’s code of conduct and disciplinary

procedures, can be used or interpreted in a way that violates the right to

freedom of expression entrenched in the Human Rights Act 1998.



This Council resolves to:


1. Reaffirm its condemnation of all forms of hate crimes and racism.


2. Adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism as the working model for

challenging and confronting incidents of this form of hate crime and racism.


3. Ask the Mayor and Cabinet to look into adopting similarly agreed definitions

for other forms of hate crime, to better confront and challenge all forms of

racism and discrimination that exist within our society.”

Supporting documents: