Council under renewed pressure to adopt IHRA seeks to reassure Jewish groups

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Council under renewed pressure to adopt IHRA seeks to reassure Jewish groups

'Given how events have already drawn out this process, we would suggest that simplicity is key to bringing this issue to resolution'

Three Rivers District Council (Credit: Google Maps Street View).
Three Rivers District Council (Credit: Google Maps Street View).

The leader of a local authority in Hertfordshire under growing pressure to adopt an international definition of antisemitism has sought to reassure Jewish leaders this week.

Three Rivers District Council leader Sarah Nelmes told Jewish News on Wednesday the authority is “on track” to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism at a meeting, expected to be held on 1 September, adding that she was not “anticipating” any opposition.

The council recently drew media coverage after local synagogue leaders criticised its “continuing failure” to adopt the definition.

Councillors in the Liberal Democrat-led council were set to debate whether to adopt the definition during a meeting last month, but instead the authority voted to withdraw all motions about racial equality while a subcommittee discusses changes to its equality policy.

Council leader Sarah Nelmes expressed “regret” at the time over the delay but said the move would help the authority establish “what more we can do as a council to address the cause and effects of hate crime.”

But Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl and London Jewish Forum co-chairs Adrian Cohen and Andrew Gilbert renewed pressure on the authority this week.

A letter, sent to councillor Nelmes, signed by the communal leaders, warns against making “any further delay and without conditioning its adoption on extraneous or otherwise complicating matters.”

“Given how events have already drawn out this process, we would suggest that simplicity is key to bringing this issue to resolution,” the letter says.

In response, councillor Nelmes said: “I can confirm that we are due to adopt the definition at a meeting on 1 September. I do sincerely apologise that for various reasons it was not adopted earlier and for the upset that has caused.”

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