Entire West Midlands region adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism
The combined authority joins over 260 councils in England and Wales in taking up the definition
The West Midlands Combined Authority has voted unanimously to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in a move designed to improve clarity over exactly what constitutes anti-Jewish racism.
The definition was approved by the leaders of all seven constituent member councils on July 24 after consultation with the Jewish Leadership Council and other communal groups.
The West Midlands now joins other combined authorities such as Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool City Region, North East Combined Authority and the Greater London Authority in adopting the definition – as well as over 260 councils in England and Wales.
Birmingham has one of largest Jewish populations in the country, while there are sizable communities in Solihull and Coventry, as a result of nearby Warwick University.
But the move was also intended to provide reassurance to Jews living in areas without any existing communities. It is also a tool that can be used to educate people on what constitutes antisemitism.
Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, said he was “proud to be mayor of an extremely diverse region, but we must not pretend that hate crime and prejudice don’t still exist.”
He added: “Nobody should be the victim of hate because of their faith or heritage, which is why I have been working closely with our Police and Crime Commissioner to tackle this, and why I was so keen for the WMCA to sign up to the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
“I am pleased the WMCA board has now agreed the definition, and I hope this serves as a symbol to not only the Jewish community in the region but all communities, that the West Midlands stands together against all forms of hate and prejudice.”
The Labour deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, councillor Brigid Jones, added: “Adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition highlights that there is no place for antisemitism in the West Midlands.
“As we reconnect as a region following the pandemic, we should remember that inclusivity should be at the heart of everything we do and that all of our communities should be respected and not subjected to prejudice or hatred in any form.”
For the past two years the JLC has led moves – along with the Board of Deputies and the London Jewish Forum – to liaise with councils over the need to adopt IHRA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHGLG).
In London all 32 local councils have now voted to adopt IHRA.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has been outspoken in his demand for all universities and local councils to adopt the definition and he warned they could not expect public money if they could not demonstrate their commitment to fighting antisemitism.
The JC has learned of anger among some communal leaders last week following the publication of a report by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) which suggested only 119 out of 422 authorities across the entire UK had adopted IHRA.
The report, which was sent to Mr Jenrick, appeared to be based on responses to Freedom of Information requests submitted by the charity, rather than official minutes of council meetings.
For instance, the CAA report said did not Thanet District Council adopt the definition. Official minutes of a February 27 council meeting showed it was adopted in full, however. Similar errors were found in the CAA report regarding numerous other councils including Hertfordshire, Eastbourne and Harrogate.
One communal source told the JC the CAA report included “no less than 86 examples of councils which were said to have not adopted IHRA when in fact they had.”
Claudia Mendoza, Joint Chief Executive at the JLC, said: “The IHRA definition is a practical tool to help authorities identify and tackle antisemitism. We would like to thank Mayor Andy Street and the Leaders in the West Midlands Combined Authority for adopting this definition.”