Liverpool anti-racism festival sparks backlash for omitting antisemitism

The event, titled Liverpool Against Racism (LAR), began this week and is seeing a number of events held throughout the city, including musical acts, group discussions and speeches about racism.

 Liverpool skyline (Illustrative). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Liverpool skyline (Illustrative).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A recent anti-racism festival in the UK city of Liverpool has been met with controversy due to a seeming omission of events or discussions related to antisemitism.

The event, titled Liverpool Against Racism (LAR), began this week and is seeing a number of events held throughout the city, including musical acts, group discussions and speeches about racism.

But there is no mention of antisemitism in the festival's promotional material or schedule, something that has sparked the backlash.

In particular, Dame Louise Ellman, a Jewish former parliamentarian from the city, has called the festival out for this.

 “I hope it is not the case that, as David Baddiel would say, ‘Jews don’t count,’” Ellman wrote in a letter to Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson, according to the UK-based outlet the Jewish News.

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 Jewish News reported.

The Liverpool City Council also commented on 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 seen by British media.

"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. We had an amazing response… which has seen organizations across the city stage events to complement the Liverpool Against Racism program."

“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.”

The festival is set to continue until April 30.