All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

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File:Group portrait.jpg
Publicity photo of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, courtesy of the Antisemitism Policy Trust

The purpose of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPGAA) is 'To combat antisemitism and help develop and seek implementation of effective public policy to combat antisemitism'.[1] The group has led the debate on definitions of antisemitism, pushing for the EUMC working definition (forerunner to the IHRA) to be adopted. The APPGAA has also led the way in disaggregating antisemitism statistics from other forms of hate crime and on ensuring that these are shared with the Community Security Trust. In 2015, it was claimed that 'Using the good practices that the APPG has established in the UK, members have sought to influence other countries around the world to follow suit. The result has been shared recognition of the UK as a world leader in this field'.[2]

History and Personnel

The precise origins of the APPGAA are vague. Lord Hunt of the Wirral's chairmanship of the group can be dated back to 2001, when the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism (PCAA) came into being with Hunt as one of the trustees.[3]

In October 2004, the PCAA reported that 'a new Parliamentary chairman was elected and has reinvigorated the Parliamentary group'.[4] This referred to John Mann, who would continue to hold the chair for the following 15 years. Notable Labour MPs sitting alongside him have included Louise Ellman, Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger and Wes Streeting. When Mann stood down as an MP in 2019, he became a vice president of the APPG and was replaced as chair by independent MP Guto Bebb. In 2020, the chair was filled by Conservative MP Andrew Percy, Mann became the sole president and the Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Rosie Duffield joined the group.

The secretariat for the group is provided by the Antisemitism Policy Trust (APT, previously known as the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism and the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation). In 2018, APT claimed 182 parliamentary members of the group,[5] which are listed on the group's website.[6]

Between July 2007 and March 2009, Richard Angell was Parliamentary and Press Officer for the APPGAA.


The Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism (PCAA) mentions expenditure of £57,398 and £173,710 on the parliamentary inquiry (mentioned below) in 2005 and 2006, respectively.[7]

John Mann declared contributions from the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation in the amounts of £20,000 and £30,000 in 2010 and 2011 for a researcher in his office who would help to administer the APPGAA.

In recent years, the PCAA Foundation and its successor, the Antisemitism Policy Trust, have allocated costs for the APPGAA secretariat as follows:

Date Source Amount
02/06/2015 to 01/06/2016 Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation £28,501-30,000
07/09/2016 to 06/09/2017 Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation £40,501-42,000
27/06/2017 to 26/06/2018 Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation £40,501-42,000
27/06/2018 to 26/06/2019 Antisemitism Policy Trust £34,501-36,000
27/06/2019 to 26/06/2020 Antisemitism Policy Trust £34,501-36,000
15/01/2020 to 14/01/2021 Antisemitism Policy Trust £28,501-30,000

Parliamentary Inquiry 2005–6

In 2004, PCAA reported that 'a considerable amount of time and effort has been put into planning an ambitious and potentially very important inquiry that is scheduled to be launched in November of this year'. In 2005, John Mann commissioned an inquiry, the terms of reference for which were:

1. To consider evidence on the nature of contemporary antisemitism
2. To evaluate current efforts to confront it
3. To consider further measures that might usefully be introduced[8]

The inquiry was chaired by Denis McShane, and the panel comprised:

Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP (Labour, Rother Valley)
Tim Boswell MP (Conservative, Daventry)
Rt Hon David Curry MP (Conservative, Skipton and Ripon)
Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP (Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green)
Nigel Evans MP (Conservative, Ribble Valley)
Rt Hon Bruce George MP (Labour, Walsall South)
Lady Sylvia Hermon MP (Ulster Unionist, North Down)
Chris Huhne MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh)
Daniel Kawczynski MP (Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham)
Barbara Keeley MP (Labour, Worsley)
Khalid Mahmood MP (Labour, Birmingham, Perry Barr)
Rt Hon John Spellar MP (Labour, Warley)
Theresa Villiers MP (Conservative, Chipping Barnet)

The backdrop to the inquiry was a perceived rise in antisemitism:

Many of those who gave evidence recognised that, with the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada in September 2000, most agencies monitoring antisemitism throughout Europe and beyond, including the EUMC, have acknowledged a rise in antisemitic incidents. Often these peak at times when there is a particular outbreak of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or somewhere else in the Middle East. Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust (CST) expressed concern that 'the high number of trigger events since September 2000 has led to an increase in the background level of antisemitic incidents that take place when there are no trigger events.

The panel apparently received oral evidence from the Home Secretary, the Attorney General, the chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and 120 written submissions.[9] The published submissions were highly selective, confined to established organisations, but we are told that a number of individuals made representations, including Dr David Hirsh, Dr Jon Pike, Jonathan Freedland, Luciana Berger and Stephen Pollard. Notable by their absence were the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel.

In seeking to define antisemitism, the panel was 'guided by the definition of racism put forward by the Macpherson report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the definition of antisemitism provided by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia' (forerunner to the IHRA definition). Misinterpreting Macpherson, the panel concluded that 'it is the Jewish community itself that is best qualified to determine what does and does not constitute antisemitism'. The panel made clear that 'we wish to draw a distinction between antisemitic motivation and effect'.

Attempting to distinguish antisemitism from anti-Zionism, the panel observed that 'most of those who gave evidence were at pains to explain that criticism of Israel is not to be regarded in itself as antisemitic. It is perfectly possible to be critical of the policies and actions of the government of Israel without being antisemitic. The Israeli government itself may, at times, have mistakenly perceived criticism of its policies and actions to be motivated by antisemitism, but we received no evidence of the accusation of antisemitism being misused by mainstream British Jewish community organisations and leaders'. While noting that 'criticism of Zionism is not in itself antisemitic', the panel oberved:

However, in some quarters an antisemitic discourse has developed that is in effect antisemitic because it views Zionism itself as a global force of unlimited power and malevolence throughout history. This definition of Zionism bears no relation to the understanding that most Jews have of the concept; that is, a movement of Jewish national liberation, born in the late nineteenth century, with a geographical focus limited to Israel. Having re-defined Zionism in this way, traditional antisemitic notions of Jewish conspiratorial power, manipulation and subversion are then transferred from Jews (a religious or racial group) on to Zionism (a political movement). This is at the core of the ‘New Antisemitism’ on which so much has been written. Many witnesses described how anti-Zionism has become the “lingua franca of antisemitic movements”

The inquiry report tells us that the 'far right has started to use the language of "Zionists" as a euphemism for "Jews" in order to disguise its antisemitic agenda, a phenomenon that also occurs on the left and among Islamist extremists'.

A section of the report covering Antisemitism on the Left asserts that 'We heard evidence that contemporary antisemitism in Britain is now more commonly found on the left of the political spectrum than on the right':

There is little doubt that since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the late 1960s there has been, particularly on the left, a shift in sympathy away from Israel. Criticism of Israel has been fuelled further by the second Palestinian Intifada and by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 which has exacerbated tensions in the Middle East. Again we wish to restate that criticism of Israel is not in itself antisemitic but were concerned that within this context the boundaries between antisemitism and legitimate expressions of support for the Palestinians have become blurred in some quarters.

Adding context to the long-running tensions between John Mann and Ken Livingstone, the report notes that 'In 2004 Mr Livingstone hosted the European Council for Fatwa and Research, headed by Sheikh Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a controversial Muslim cleric who has reportedly forbidden Muslims from engaging in dialogue of any kind with Jews. His presence offended many minority groups, who took exception to his reported views on other religions, interfaith dialogue, homosexuality, and domestic violence'.

A section of the report on Islamist Antisemitism tells us that:

We heard evidence that much of the current antisemitism is generated in the Middle East where, in certain countries, anti-Jewish rhetoric has become an ingredient of mainstream public discourse in politics and the media. We were disturbed to hear that the language and imagery used is often a direct continuation of that deployed by Nazi Germany. In the modern world of global communications, these are easily imported into Britain via satellite television, the internet and the Arabic press. Islamist terrorist groups have repeatedly spoken of their hatred for Jews, declaring them to be legitimate targets. All of this contributes to a sense of insecurity within the Jewish community.

A section of the report on the internet concluded that 'a new approach is needed in terms of freedom of expression that allows some limit on the public dissemination on the internet of material aimed at stirring up race hate and antisemitism'.

The report made 35 conclusions and recommendations for Government, Parliament and civil society. The first of these, as a stand-alone item, was that 'the EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism is adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies'.[10] Interestingly, the EUMC submission to the inquiry noted that 'As work in progress the draft working definition is currently under review in the light of the NFPs feedback and will be revised in 2006', suggesting that it was not yet ready for adoption. This did not stop the Board of Deputies of British Jews from recommending that the EUMC's Working Definition of Antisemitism, which the BoD's Defence and Group Relations Divisional Director had helped to draft, 'represents an important step forward in allowing professionals to identify discrimination in their midst and should be recommended to all police forces, statutory and non statutory bodies combating discrimination'.[10] Also interesting is the Home Office submission to the inquiry which noted that 'The police treat Anti-Semitic incidents as racist incidents. Their definition when recording such incidents is: “any incident which is regarded as racist by the victim or any other person.” This is the definition recommended by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and goes much wider than the proposed new EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism'.[10]

Response to the Inquiry

The Government issued a response in the form of a command paper.[11] In the process of responding to the first recommendation, the Government stated that it 'currently uses the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry definition of a racist incident which is an incident that is perceived as racist by the victim or any other person, and this would include antisemitism'. In response to the adoption of the EUMC definition, the Government noted 'from the EUMC’s evidence to the Committee that the definition is in fact a work in progress and has not been recommended to states for adoption. We undertake to re-examine this if and when the EUMC’s successor body the Fundamental Rights Agency do so'.

The 2007 command paper was followed by another a year later. The Minister of State for Communities and Local Government reported that 'the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has remained in contact with the EUMC/FRA about the definition. The FRA has confirmed that the definition is still seen as a work-in-progress that requires further testing and comment from stakeholders as to its practical use and effectiveness in supporting data collection. Initial feedback and comments drew attention to several issues that impacted on the effectiveness of the definition as a data collection support tool'.[12]

Following this, on 15 May 2008, the Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, proposed a debate on antisemitism. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government opened the debate, acknowledging publication of the inquiry report a year earlier and asserting that 'The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our embassies and high commissions have worked with the all-party group to make its overseas visits a success, offering practical support and local advice on parliamentary structures and suitable contacts'.[13] John Mann trumpeted that 'we have managed to achieve a coalition, not only intellectually but in relation to activity and working practice. Perhaps even more remarkably, the Government have managed, cross-departmentally, to bring every single one of the eight Government Departments into active participation, and allowed us, the ordinary Members of Parliament, to be vigilant in regard to those who do not place this matter high on their priority list, with a view to ensuring that all eight Departments participate fully'.[13] A significant amount of time was dedicated to debating antisemitism on university campuses, with Mann describing the National Union of Students as 'one of the leading bodies in being intolerant of intolerance' and the University and College Union as 'increasingly irrelevant'.[13]

At the end of 2010, a third command paper was issued, this time by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.[14] This time, no mention was made of the EUMC/FRA but rather the adoption by the UK criminal justice system of a common definition of hate crime as 'any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on' a person's actual or perceived race or religion. the PCAA Foundation reported that 'After the election in May, we worked hard to ensure the programme of action to combat antisemitism was maintained by the incoming Government. Our efforts resulted in the third Government response to the All-Party Inquiry into Antisemtitism and a debate in Parliament where Parliamentary leaders spoke of the key issues in tackling this hate crime'.[15]

In 2014, APPG Chair, John Mann said 'I am pleased to report that, in my judgment, we have worked successfully with the Government, Ministers and other partners to implement the inquiry recommendations and to go beyond them'.[16] The examples of success were given as follows:

Our successes have included the establishment of a unique Whitehall Government working group on anti-Semitism; an agreement for all police forces to record anti-Semitic hate crimes; the publication by the police of the first official anti-Semitic hate crime statistics; a funding agreement for the security needs of Jewish faith schools in the state system; a Crown Prosecution Service ​review and action plan; the creation of a Government-backed school-linking programme; research into modern discursive anti-Semitism funded by the Government; the appointment of a UK envoy for post-holocaust issues; two ministerial conferences and international action plans on internet hate, and I believe that there will be another one in the near future; the highly effective international replication of the all-party group inquiry model in countries such as Germany and Canada; a full inquiry into electoral conduct and resultant action from key agencies; and work with Government that has led, among other successes, to the publication of a guide by the Society of Editors to editing online newspaper comment boards. Those successes are significant, but they leave no room for complacency, not least because of the increase this year in the scourge of anti-Semitism.

The first point refers to an 'inter-departmental working group, which consists of representatives from across Whitehall, the parliamentary committee against anti-Semitism, representatives from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust, and other Departments, including the FCO, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney-General’s office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and my Department, as well as the police', working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government.[13]

Inquiry Into Electoral Conduct 2012

At the PCAA Foundation's 2012 summer party, it was announced that John Mann had 'commissioned the chair of the backbench business committee, Natascha Engel MP, to chair a panel looking at the conduct of electoral candidates'.[17] The terms of reference of the inquiry were:

1. To inquire into the culture, practices and malpractices exhibited during election campaigns by electoral candidates and others with a particular focus on discriminatory behaviour.
2. To review whether the current law, regulations, political party and agency measures relating to electoral conduct are appropriate, well-co-ordinated or require amendment and to make recommendations accordingly.
3. To uncover what models of good practice exist for assessing and addressing accusations of discriminatory behaviour during elections.
4. To make recommendations, rooted in best practice where possible, for crossparty frameworks to prevent and address accusations of discriminatory conduct.

The panel comprised:

Stuart Andrew MP (Conservative, Pudsey)
Lord John Alderdice (Liberal Democrat)
Lord Jeremy Beecham (Labour)
Angie Bray MP (Vice-Chair)(Conservative, Ealing Central)
David Burrowes MP (Conservative, Enfield Southgate)
Lilian Greenwood MP (Labour, Nottingham South)
Rt Hon David Lammy MP (Labour, Tottenham)
Naomi Long MP (Alliance Party, Belfast East)
Seema Malhotra MP (Labour, Feltham and Heston)
Andrew Stunell OBE MP (Liberal Democrat, Hazel Grove)
Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP (Scottish National Party, Banff and Buchan)

The inquiry report noted that the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Community Security Trust highlighted incidences of alleged antisemitism in recent election campaigns. In 2010 the Board asked the Labour Party to consider the withdrawal of two candidates following comments they had made. The Board had previously highlighted concerns relating to election posters designed by the party in 2001, which it was claimed depicted the Tory leader Michael Howard as Dickens’ Fagin'.[18]

Parliamentary Inquiry 2014–15

On 28 July 2014, John Mann 'announced his intention to instigate a parliamentary inquiry into the lessons that could be learned from the reported upsurge of anti-Jewish incidents emanating from increased tensions in the Middle East conflict'.[19] This conflict is variously referred to as the Israel–Gaza war[20] and Israel–Hamas conflict.[21] Palestine is only mentioned in APPGAA documents in historical context, quoted speech or organisational names.

As before, the inquiry was precipitated by a perceived increase in antisemitic incidents, this time triggered by Operation Protective Edge. In a Westminster Hall debate, John Mann claimed that, in September 2014, he had 'instigated a parliamentary report on anti-Semitism emanating from the conflict in the middle east, with a number of events across the country to meet Jewish communities and better understand their anguish'.[22] The inquiry report observed that:

The CST reported to us that it recorded 314 antisemitic incidents during July 2014, its highest-ever monthly total. A further 227 incidents were recorded for the month of August, constituting the third-highest monthly total with the intermediate figure relating to another spike in Middle East tensions in 2009. The CST told us that its total for July surpasses the number of reported incidents for the whole of the preceding six months and the combined figures for July and August of 2014 surpass the annual total for 2013, of 533 incidents. The CST informed us that of the July-August 2014 incidents that were recorded, just under half involved a direct reference to the war, and a third used Holocaust-related language or imagery whilst 25% occurred on social media. These figures are shocking and a cause for great concern.

On the subject of adopting the EUMC definition, the updated report concluded that 'It is clear that the EUMC definition of antisemitism will not be adopted formally until the FRA [Fundamental Rights Agency] makes a proposal for governments to do so. In addition, there is little if any pressure from the established representative bodies in the Jewish community to pursue the adoption of the definition. It continues to serve a useful purpose as an explanatory tool for police and the judiciary and we are pleased it has been included in the College of Policing Manual for investigating hate crime but we will not be proposing further action'.

Published seven month before Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, the report adopted a moderate tone on the criticism of Israel, noting that 'There are those that either unknowingly or wilfully employ antisemitic language when talking about the conflict, so too there are those that wrongly label, what they might consider unfair, criticism of Israel as antisemitism'. However, without mentioning Shabana Mahmood by name, the report noted that 'on August 2 2014, a Labour party MP was part of a peaceful protest that caused a Sainsbury’s store to close in Birmingham. The MP posted a video to YouTube in which that parliamentarian celebrated a loss of nearly five hours of business for Sainbury’s, commenting that this would send a message to Sainsbury’s to stop purchasing goods from Israeli settlements [...] it is for public figures to set the tone for a reasoned and moderate approach to addressing the conflict'.[19]

As before, the report included conclusions and recommendations – 34 this time. As before, a concerted effort was made to control the language around Israel and antisemitism and to influence interpretations in Parliament, education, the police, criminal justice system and judiciary. As before, attention was paid to the prevalence of 'cyber hate'. As before, emphasis was placed on cross-governmental working and international action (particularly through the OSCE), recommending that 'Foreign and Commonwealth Office enhance its systems for coordinating feedback from embassies specifically to plan for antisemitism during times of increased tension in the Middle East and where appropriate brief Ministers to raise the matter with foreign counterparts'.[19] A new emphasis was given to interfaith work, particularly in local authorities.

On the subject of boycotts, the report noted that:

People have a legitimate right to protest against Israel through boycott or other peaceful means. However, such protest becomes entirely illegitimate when constituting an attack on or intimidation of British Jews. We have set out that cultural boycotts, implemented in the way they were during the summer, were unacceptable. The boycott movement faces a challenge of how to put their tactics into effect while not slipping into antisemitism, unlawful discrimination or assaulting valued freedoms'.[19]

The report was launched at Lambeth Palace courtesy of the Archbishop of Canterbury.[23]


In 2014, the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sachs, 'emphasised the importance of non-Jews leading the fight and highlighted how the All-Party Group Against Antisemitism was a global model in that regard'.[24]


  1. All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, 30 July 2015, Accessed from Parliament website 27 May 2020.
  2. The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism A Decade in Review, 2015.
  3. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Directors' Report and Financial Statements for the Period 23 January 2001 to 31 December 2001, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  4. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2003, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  5. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2018, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  6. All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism Group members, listed on Antisemitism Policy Trust website, Accessed 5 June 2020.
  7. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2006, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  8. All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, September 2006.
  9. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2006, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Memorandum submitted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews Selection of Written Evidence, The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism.
  11. Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, and the Government response thereto Cm 7059, 29 March 2007.
  12. Minister of State for Communities and Local Government All-Party Inquiry into Antisemitism: Government Response One year on Progress Report, Cm 7381, 12 May 2008.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Anti-Semitism Commons Chamber, 15 May 2008, Retrieved from Hansard 5 June 2020.
  14. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government All-Party Inquiry into Antisemitism: Government Response Three Years on Progress Report, Cm 7991, December 2010.
  15. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2010, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  16. Anti-Semitism Westminster Hall, 9 December 2014, Retrieved from Hansard 27 May 2020.
  17. Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2012, Companies House, Accessed 3 June 2020.
  18. All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism Report of the All-Party Inquiry into Electoral Conduct, October 2013.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, February 2015.
  20. All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism Implementation of the All-Party Parliamentary Report into Antisemitism: Feedback and Responses, April 2016.
  21. All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism [1], April 2018.
  22. Anti-Semitism Westminster Hall, 9 December 2014, Retrieved from Hansard 27 May 2020.
  23. Antisemitism Policy Trust Launch of 2015 Inquiry Report, February 2015.
  24. Antisemitism Policy Trust Rabbi Lord Sacks Briefing, 10 December 2014.