Bradford Council moves to calm Muslim fears ahead of vote on IHRA antisemitism definition

The city's council is voting on adopting the broad definition of Jew hate on Tuesday evening


The leader of Bradford Council and an organisation representing the city’s mosques have moved to calm "concerned voices" among local Muslims about the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

Bradford’s Labour leader Susan Hinchcliffe issued a statement through the city’s Council For Mosques, stressing that the definition would not stop criticism of Israel, ahead of a council debate on adopting it on Tuesday night.

The Labour Party has triggered huge anger by drawing up its own code of conduct on Jew hate, rather than adopt the IHRA definition, which sets out how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic.

Cllr Hinchcliffe wrote: "None of us in Bradford district will tolerate hatred of any kind against any race or faith. This motion, if passed, would not be a law, it would not stop people in Bradford criticising anything.

“Anyone can and should feel able to condemn the Israeli Government for their actions against the Palestinians.  In fact, many of us, including me, do so regularly.

“We obviously hear the concerned voices that have been generated by this motion and we want to make sure that those voices are heard...

“We are speaking to the faith leaders in the city. We value multi-­faith work which has gone on in the city. We are richer for it as a place and as people and it is vital that this continues."

In its own message, the Council For Mosques appealed for "calm and respect for the law" ahead of the debate. The statement lauded Bradford Council's "robust stance" against the "growing menace" of antisemitism.

It continued: "It is commendable that the Council is leading by example on this very important area of concern. We, however, believe that the same level of attention should be also afforded to rooting out crimes of hatred against Muslims and other faiths in the city."

The statement called for "a clear distinction needs to be made between the rights and the interests of British Jews and the interests of the Government of Israel," saying: "These are not one and the same thing.

"There are many aspects of the Israel’s policy of containment by force against the people of Palestine which the members of the British Jewish community equally disagree with or have serious reservations about and would like to distance themselves from."

The Council For Mosques also claimed "the legal and democratic rights of Palestinians should be acknowledged and respected" and that "the people’s right to challenge the Government of Israel should not interpreted as an act of antisemitism".

Bradford has been dogged by a string of scandals involving antisemitism over recent years. George Galloway quizzed by police over alleged racial incitement in 2014 after he declared the city an "Israel-free zone" when he was an MP in the city.

Last year, ex-MP David Ward was sacked as a Lib Dem general election candidate for Bradford East after making a series of comments about Israel, the Holocaust and Zionists.

He still sits as a councillor for Bradford's Bolton and Undercliffe ward.

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