The Board of Deputies has condemned Ukip’s “unclear” position on the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism, as the right-wing party followed Labour to be dragged into a row over the code.
A host of other communal organisations, including the Community Security Trust (CST) and the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), also called for Ukip to adopt the the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance antisemitism definition.
Labour's refusal to adopt the same definition, in favour of a watered down version that omits key examples of how criticising Israel can be antisemitic, has triggered a huge standoff with the Jewish community.
Senior Ukip figures have resisted the IHRA definition, the Daily Mirror reported last week, with some claiming that it would infringe on members’ freedom of speech.
A CST spokesman added: “Alarm bells always ring when a political party objects to straightforward anti-racism guidelines.”
Edie Friedman, the executive director of JCore, told the JC it was “incumbent on all political parties to examine how they respond to all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, and to consider how their practices can be made more transparent.”
A party spokesman told the JC that Ukip “takes no issue” with the IHRA definition, but it does not adopt “third-party declarations” as a rule.
He also said that “there would be no need” to sign up to the code, claiming antisemitism is already covered by rule 2.4 of the party’s constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on a number of factors, including race, religion and ethnicity.
It was reported that Pat Bright, who sits on the Ukip national executive committee, initially suggested the incorporation of the code, in a bid to prove that the party’s opposition to shechita is not fuelled by antisemitism.
Ukip leader Gerard Batten refused to sign the party up to the definition in full, insisting antisemitism is covered under the party’s existing rules against discrimination.
According to the Daily Mirror, Elizabeth Jones, also a member of Ukip’s NEC, wrote in an email: “No way. We are the party of free speech. We cannot sign any document that restricts that position.”
A 2015 poll by YouGov found people who said they intended to vote Ukip were consistently more likely to agree with antisemitic statements.
The poll, carried out for Campaign Against Antisemitism, found 17 per cent of British adults agreed with the statement "Jews think they are better than other people", but this rose to 27 per cent among Ukip voters.
A total of 39 per cent of Ukip supporters agreed "Jews chase money more than other British people", compared with 25 per cent of the general population.