Lib Dems adopt full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

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Lib Dems adopt full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

Decision taken at meeting of party's national body and Jewish news understands it was backed with no votes against

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable 

Credit: The Liberal Democrats
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable Credit: The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and its examples.

The decisions was taken at a meeting of the party’s ruling Federal Board on Tuesday. The Jewish News understands that it was passed with no votes against and only one speech opposing the move.

Responding to the vote, Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel Honorary Chairman Gavin Stollar said: “Tonight the Liberal Democrat’s demonstrated once again that we are the real and only credible opposition in British Politics today. The adoption of the IHRA definition and examples without fuss or fanfare should give the Jewish community in the UK the confidence to find a new political home in our Party.”

The Jewish News exclusively revealed on Monday that the vote was going to take place. It came after a number of Federal Board Members asked the Liberal Democrat President, Baroness Sal Brinton, who chairs the committee, to put adoption of the IHRA definition onto the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

Ahead of the vote, a senior Liberal Democrat source told the Jewish News that the party has in reality been using the IHRA definition as its understanding of anti-Semitism since 2016. Tuesday’s decision means it will officially be part of their rulebook.

Within the party, there was opposition to the move from the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (LDFP). In a leaked email sent from the organisation to members, friends and supporters and obtained by the Jewish News, LDFP Chair Jonathan Fryer wrote: “If the Federal Board does decide to adopt the IHRA definition, then LDFP will issue a statement at the time voicing our objections to it and will attempt to raise the matter at the Party’s conference in Brighton in September.”

Ahead of the vote, Fryer said: “LDFP is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination. However, in common with several Liberal Jewish groups, as well as legal opinions from a number of authorities (as well as the author of the definition himself), we do have reservations about the wisdom of adopting the IHRA definition with its examples, because of its implications for freedom of expression.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “My thanks to the Liberal Democrats, who yesterday adopted the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism with all of its illustrative examples. We are very happy to note that the definition was passed with no votes against. This will give the Jewish community greater confidence that any antisemitism within the party will be dealt with appropriately and firmly”

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