The Northern Ireland Assembly has adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism. This came despite Sinn Fein’s opposition to the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) proposal to adopt it.

The DUP motion stressed “the need to tackle the scourge of antisemitism in every aspect of our society” and called on the Assembly to adopt the Definition in full with the illustrative examples, which are integral to the Definition.

Sinn Fein tried to pass an amendment to remove the reference to the Definition, but retained similar wording without the examples.

In the past, Belfast City Council explicitly rejected the adoption of the Definition.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “We applaud this decision by the Northern Ireland Assembly to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism. We regret that Sinn Fein opposed the adoption resolution, but its passage is a strong demonstration of solidarity with the Jewish community and a powerful expression of opposition to anti-Jewish racism, which has no place in Northern Ireland or any other part of the United Kingdom. We continue to call on local authorities, as well as universities and other public bodies, to adopt the Definition and apply it in cases of antisemitism.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism applauds the decision. The British Government was the first country in the world to adopt the Definition, something for which Campaign Against Antisemitism and Lord Pickles worked hard over many meetings with officials at Downing Street. Since then, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government have also both adopted the Definition.

Ten Jewish gravestones in Belfast City Cemetery were desecrated in an antisemitic hate crime.

The desecration is believed to have taken place last week on 15th April.

Sinn Fein councillor Steven Corr, along with other Sinn Fein members, were active participants in the clean-up crew. He posted photos of the scene on Facebook, writing: “We work continuously after attacks on all graves belonging to all denominations, all religions, adults and children and these unbelievable attacks on the headstones of dead people needs to stop. Let them Rest in Peace.”

Inspector Róisín Brown of the Police Service of Northern Ireland stated: “I am appalled at these criminal acts. City Cemetery, like any graveyard, is a place where members of the community come to pay their respects. The damage to these graves shows a total lack of respect for others and will have a significant impact on individuals and families within the Jewish Community.

“We are investigating this incident as a hate crime, but we need help from the local community in West Belfast to hold those responsible to account for their actions.

“If you saw anyone acting suspiciously in the City Cemetery yesterday evening, or if you have information that would help our investigation, I am asking you to please contact us on the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 713 16/04/21.”

Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Vandalism of Jewish graves is a cowardly act, but all too common in Britain and abroad. We can honour the dead by ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice, and we support the efforts of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in doing so.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.

Image credit: Cllr Steven Corr