Response to petition

Published: Tuesday, 24th July 2018

The City Council as part of our commitment to be an open and democratic council allows public addresses on any issue.

On Monday 23 July, a town councillor from Woodstock addressed the City Council about a letter sent to all councils in January 2017 by the then Secretary of State for Local Government, Sajid Javid MP, inviting all councils to sign up to the IHRA definition of anti-semitism. The Leader of Oxford City Council, Councillor Susan Brown made a response to the petition on behalf of the council as set out below.

“I thank Councillor Parnes for his petition. Following receipt of this petition I checked that we had not responded to the letter of January 2017. He is correct that we had not. Believing that all parties in the council would want Oxford City Council to be signed up to the IHRA definition of antisemitism, to make clear our abhorrence for racism in any form, I have written to the current Secretary of State for Local Government and Housing, James Brokenshire MP on behalf of the City Council. I will ask Committee services to send a copy of the letter to all councillors and for the letter to form part of the formal record of this meeting.

“It is important to note that neither the definition nor the examples cited in the declaration document preclude anyone from criticising Israeli government policy, but quite rightly demand that the language used to do so is appropriate.

 “Last week saw Israel pass a new law, the Nation State Law, that anyone committed to equality and minority rights must rightly condemn. I therefore am also intending to write this week to our two city MPs to ask them to take every opportunity to raise in parliament and with ministers the horror with which we view this new policy and to ask our government to make representations to the Israeli government. I will also circulate these letters which should also form part of the record of this council meeting.”

Text of letter to Secretary of State for Local Government and Housing:

Dear Mr Brokenshire,

 Adoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism

I am writing in response to Sajid Javid’s January 2017 letter that requested local authorities follow Government’s suit in adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism.

The issue has been raised recently here in Oxford and I am pleased to confirm formally on behalf of Oxford City Council that we support the IHRA definition as part of our commitment to tackle anti-Semitism and associated hate crimes in our city.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council.