A group of Wellington Jews (named below) are in the process of forming a collective to provide alternatives to the current narrow range of voices that speak publicly in the name of the Jewish community. We believe it is important for us to speak out publicly to better represent the diversity of views on Jewish issues, especially on matters of Zionism, the occupation of Palestine, and anti-Semitism.
We have been prompted to speak out now, having learned of the Wellington City Council’s Agenda item this week to consider adopting a controversial definition of anti-Semitism.
We do not support WCC’s consideration of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-Semitism for reasons of process and of substance:
1. The Council is proceeding to consider a definition of anti-Semitism without consultation with the public or Jews in the region. The document under consideration is hugely controversial and has been the subject of furious debate, global petitions and activism across Europe, Canada and the USA. A key concern is the risk that anyone who airs legitimate criticism of Israeli Government Policy may be labelled as anti-Semitic. Jewish leaders and Talmudic scholars feature on both sides of this debate.
2. In substance, this document is simply a wrong response to racism. It is wrong to imagine that any definition can protect anyone. We believe that the response to racism must be a common, steadfast, loving embrace of justice and diversity. Racism is not just a Jewish issue, and there will be no separate Jewish resolution. Muslims and other marginalised groups face racism and bigotry. The community must support a strategy to address racism against all groups.
Therefore, we urge WCC Councillors to reject the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, explain what it hopes to achieve in combatting racism, and put the issue out for public and community consultation.
Contact for further comment – email: Shma.Koleinu.firstname.lastname@example.org