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Definition of anti-Semitism encompassed in broader Richmond anti-racism motion

Couns. Alexa Loo and Chak Au both have motions about anti-racism to be discussed Monday by Richmond city council.
Richmond city councillor Alexa Loo

Two motions about anti-racism are on the table Monday for city council to consider: definitions of racism that were used by the Government of Canada – including a controversial definition of anti-Semitism– and a made-in-Richmond protocol to tackle racism.

Coun. Alexa Loo put forward the anti-Semitism definition in December for city council to consider, but then withdrew it saying she wanted a broader definition that would encompass all types of racism.

Coun. Chak Au, however, has put forward a motion to adopt the “Richmond Community Protocol” that was developed several years ago with input from the Richmond Multi-Cultural Society, the RCMP, the Richmond Board of Education and Kwantlen Polytechnic and other local community organizations.

Loo’s motion includes, in addition to the definition of anti-Semitism, definitions of Islamophobia, colonialism, anti-Black racism and systemic or institutionalized racism.

“The definitions and terminology in Canada’s Antiā€Racism Strategy … will inform the City of Richmond on setting policies and standards of behaviours that we can expect our Council, Staff, contractors, suppliers and stakeholders to meet,” Loo states in her rationale of the motion. “By defining racism, we can more effectively combat it.”

The protocol, on the other hand, gives step by step instructions on how to handle racist incidents.

The purpose and intent of the protocol is to act “as a mechanism for the quick assessment and responsive action towards critical incidents of racism and hate motivated incidents.”

The definition of anti-Semitism in Loo’s motion was developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Some groups, including one Jewish group, claim it could curtail criticism of Israel and Zionism.

Examples of anti-Semitism cited after the definition include “manifestation… targeting the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

But it further clarifies that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

(These latter explanations are not included in Loo’s definition that’s coming to city council on Monday.)

In October, a U.N. report, however, cautioned that the “adoption, promotion and implementation” by various states of this definition of antisemitism as being a “politically motivated instrumentalization of the fight against antisemitism.”

The RCMP just released their statistics on hate crimes and incidents in Richmond. There were 34 hate incidents and crimes – which have different thresholds – reported to Richmond RCMP in 2022. This is down from 45 in 2021.

There were nine police files of hate crimes or incidents where Asians were targeted, seven where Blacks were targeted and five where LGBTQ people were targeted.

The two anti-racism items will be dealt with at Monday’s general purposes committee meeting which takes place at 4 p.m.