Portsmouth councillors pledge to make a stand against anti-semitism

Cllr John Ferrett
Cllr John Ferrett

PORTSMOUTH councillors have pledged to stand against antisemitism in the city.

At the most recent full council meeting they voted unanimously to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism as well as making it part of the council's code of conduct for all councillors and officers.

The definition, which was adopted by the UK government in 2016, states: 'Anti-semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.'

It was brought to Portsmouth City Council by independent Councillor John Ferrett. Speaking at the meeting he said: 'My view is we have to be unequivocal about anti-semitism in the council.

'This is a very real issue. We've all seen examples of horrific antisemitism across the political spectrum.

'It isn't a question of one particular political party, clearly the Labour party has been subject to huge scrutiny over the summer and so it should, it's the opposition party, it could be in government.

'I ask that the council supports this motion and gives it its unequivocal support.'

His seconder, Cllr Will Purvis, added: 'This is not about shutting down freedom of speech. It's about specifically targeting a type of behaviour that is horrendous and affects people in the city and countrywide.'

Cllr Hugh Mason added an amendment to Cllr Ferrett's notion that ensured the full IHRA definition was adopted as well as a line condemning anyone seeking to change the definition.

Labour Cllr Judith Smyth backed this. 'I can confirm our support for this amendment,' she said.

'More than 130 local authorities across the country have adopted this definition, and we want Portsmouth to do the same.'

Simon Magorian, a member of Unite Against Fascism, and Angus Geddes both raised concerns about the definition at the meeting.