Around 40 Merseyside and North Wales councillors attended a councillors seminar on Sunday held jointly between the Board of Deputies, the JLC and the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council, and attended by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool MPs Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman.
Councillors heard frank accounts from Liverpool’s Jewish MPs and JLC vice presidents, Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger about the antisemitism they have experienced. Luciana Berger told the group how six people had so far been convicted of hate crimes against her, with more going through the system. She added, “There’s not a week that goes by where the police don’t visit my office to collect evidence of antisemitism directed at me”.
Louise Ellman read out some of the horrible messages she had been sent on social media and, while thanking those who had stood up for her and the Jewish community, called on others to tackle both the antisemitism and the denial.
Speaking at the seminar, Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman called for antisemitism in Labour to be stamped out with ’no ifs no buts’ following further revelations concerning anti-Jewish racism in the party.
Amanda told the audience: “Antisemitism in Labour continues to fester. I urge you to join us in standing up to racism, wherever it comes from.”
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram referred to the fact that with support from the JLC, his Liverpool Combined Authority had passed the IHRA definition of antisemitism with all its examples, including those that relate to rhetoric around Israel. He said: “Antisemitism in Labour should have stopped and needs to stop now.”
Councillors also heard from Fay Healey, Kindertransport refugee, who moved the audience with her story of having to leave her arents in Danzig, present day Gdańsk, to escape the Nazis.
There were panels on Israel and the Merseyside Jewish community.
Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman said: “Liverpool has a proud Jewish history, with six Jewish Lord Mayors in the past and two fantastic Jewish MPs in the present. Sadly, however, the two Jewish MPs have been the targets of the most vile racist abuse, and so this was an important opportunity to enlist new allies in the fight against antisemitism and educate around the Jewish community’s wider needs.”
Marc Levy, North West Regional manager for the JLC said: “It was a pleasure to work with our communal partners to organise an informative and well attended councillors seminar in Merseyside. We look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with elected representatives across the Merseyside region.”
Howard Winik, Chair of the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council said: “There is much to make Jews feel uneasy at the moment, but a large part of it is founded in ignorance and misunderstanding. It is only by meeting and talking with politicians in this way that we can ever hope to challenge the antisemitic rhetoric that is increasingly to be found on social media and elsewhere.”.
Similar events have been hosted in London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle, with an event in Brighton planned for later this year.
Photo : (Left to right) Ed Horwich, Director of the Jewish Small Communities Network, Marc Levy, Steve Rotheram, Amanda Bowman and Howard Winik