A Liverpool-based anti-racism festival has come under fire after it failed to plan any events or discussions about antisemitism.
Liverpool Against Racism consists of a series of cross-city events. There will be performances by musicians Rebecca Ferguson, The Christians and The Farm. A conference tackling racism is also set to take place with keynote speakers including historian David Olusoga, the BBC’s interim Head of Creative Diversity, Joanna Abeyie, and journalist Kevin Powell. In addition, teenagers will be asked to discuss issues to do with racism, stars will share their stories and give advice about how to tackle racial inequality, and there will be workshop events, including one that aims to deal with Liverpool’s role in the Atlantic slave trade.
However, the festival makes no mention of anti-Jewish racism in its promotional material or itinerary.
The Jewish former MP in the city, Dame Louise Ellman, has spoken out over the omission, saying: “I hope it is not the case that, as David Baddiel would say, ‘Jews don’t count.’”
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “The aim of the Liverpool Against Racism event was to focus on anti-black racism, created as it was in the aftermath of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. However, involvement from all of our diverse communities was actively encouraged. Last December we proactively called out for organisations and groups to contact us and get involved. We had an amazing response…which has seen organisations across the city stage events to complement the Liverpool Against Racism programme.
“Following the call-out, we were contacted by representatives from the Jewish community and they were asked if they would like to be part of a panel event at the main conference. This offer was unfortunately not taken up. Mayor Joanne is incredibly proud of the Liverpool Against Racism programme and the fact that the city isn’t shying away from shining a spotlight on discrimination. We hope this inaugural event will pave the way for similar initiatives in the future and that more organisations, including Jewish groups, will join with us.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “It appears to be increasingly axiomatic among so-called ‘anti-racists’ that prejudice and discrimination against Jewish people is not worthy of concern. Antisemitism is too often omitted from the agendas of diversity departments, the terms of reference of investigations into hate, and the itineraries of anti-racism events, to be a coincidence. The Jewish community sees this trend clearly, and we will continue to challenge it wherever it arises.”
David Baddiel appeared on a previous episode of Podcast Against Antisemitism.