Liverpool Against Racism Festival backfires for omitting antisemitism

Liverpool Against Racism (LAR) festival began this week with a number of events held throughout the city, including musical acts, group discussions and speeches about racism. However, it met with controversy for omitting discussions or events related to antisemitism.

The British anti-racism festival held in Liverpool, titled Liverpool Against Racism (LAR) started this week with a number of events including musical acts, group discussions and speeches about racism. Nevertheless, it sparked backlash due to seemingly omitting events or discussions related to antisemitism, reports The Jerusalem Post.

There is no mention of antisemitism in the festival’s promotional material or schedule, which met with controversy. For example, Dame Louise Ellman, a Jewish former parliamentarian from the city, has called out the festival for this.

“I hope it is not the case that, as David Baddiel would say, ‘Jews don’t count,’” Ellman said to have wrote in a letter to Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson.

Nevertheless, Anderson, the first black woman to be mayor of Liverpool, has voiced her support for the event, saying she was proud the city was “taking positive action against social injustice”.

The Liverpool City Council also backed the event after the backlash: “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,” a city council spokesperson said in a statement.

“However, involvement from all of our diverse communities was actively encouraged. Last December we proactively called out for organizations and groups to contact us and get involved.”

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“Mayor Joanne is incredibly proud of the Liverpool Against Racism program 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 organizations, including Jewish groups, will join with us.”