Sunderland call to combat antisemitism after rise in hate crimes against UK Jewish community

Plans to prevent and tackle anti-semitism in Sunderland will be put to city councillors this week.

Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 5:02 pm
Sunderland Civic Centre

According to a recent charity report, hate crimes against the Jewish community in the UK reached a record high last year.

The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 1,652 incidents, a rise of 16% on the previous year.

At the next full meeting of Sunderland City Council, Wearside Conservatives will ask other political groups to support a motion on the issue.

Councillor Dominic McDonough

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This includes adopting an internationally recognised definition of anti-semitism, educating people on how to spot it and supporting Jewish communities.

Conservative councillor Coun Dominic McDonough will launch the debate on Wednesday, September 18.

He said the motion, if approved, would be an “important and positive step.”

“Sunderland has a long history of acceptance of people from a range of faiths and beliefs,” he said.

“Until recently, Sunderland had a large Jewish community which contributed to the building of our city, something which we should celebrate.

“This move will put a marker down and show that Sunderland continues to be a welcoming place for Jewish people and that we will have a zero-tolerance attitude to antisemitism.”

The first Jewish settlement in Sunderland was in 1755 with the first congregation established around 1768.

Sunderland was also the first regional community to be represented on the Board of Deputy of British Jews.

According to local records, a vibrant Jewish community of around 1,400 developed in the 1960s but has declined in recent years.

The motion will ask the council to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-semitism.

The debate will take place at Sunderland Civic Centre with the meeting starting at 4pm.

Sunderland City Council leader, Coun Graeme Miller, added: “Sunderland welcomes all faiths and I and other councillors are looking forward to discussing this notice at Wednesday’s meeting.”

Key asks in the motion include:

Including a copy of the working definition and its examples in newly elected members’ induction packs; Introducing the working definition and its examples at the equality and diversity session included in members’ training and in equivalent sessions provided for Sunderland City Council employees Emailing all elected members and council employees before the end of October 2019 with the working definition and its examples; Introducing a reference to the working definition in the members code of conduct and equivalent council staff policies. Ensuring that any complaints of anti-semitism made against elected members or council employees are investigated in accordance with the working definition and its examples Ensuring that the council observes any official changes the IHRA makes to its working definition and/or examples and implements those changes within its own practices.

The (IHRA) is an intergovernmental body which aims to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally.