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
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.”