If you thought the IHRA (mis)definition was bad enough…

… the version that Luke Akehurst is peddling is even worse

Mike Cushman

Luke Akehurst of ‘We Believe in Israel’ has been circulating an amended version of the IHRA definition of antisemitism to Local Authorities and encouraging them to adopt it. A letter sent by Akehurst, former Labour Leader of Hackney Council and failed NEC candidate, has been urging councils to pass a motion that subtly, but significantly, toughens the suppression of pro-Palestinian voices. Worse it tries to pass off this new version as the same as the original. The letter has been circulated in the name of a previously unknown front organisation ‘Local Government Friends of Israel’.

The IHRA definition is in two parts: a flawed core definition and a series of exemplars that link the definition to criticism of Israel. The IHRA definition describes the exemplars as:

“Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:”

Akehurst's motion to intensify the IHRA definition
Akehurst’s motion to intensify the IHRA definition

Akehurst’s model motion amends this to:

“The guidelines highlight manifestations of antisemitism as including:”

This makes criticism of Israel such as “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” an absolute offence; regardless of whether there is any evidence of antisemitic intent.

A number of Authorities, including the Greater London Authority and Camden have adopted this model motion and shown scant regard for free expression of legitimate (an non antisemitic) political opinion. FSOI  attempted to point out the dangers of the definition to the GLA even before we were informed of this intensification of threat but the GLA leadership has been insouciant. Contact with Camden councillors has extracted a promise that they will keep the effects of adoption under review.

The model motion is deliberately misleading, it concludes:

“This Council welcomes the cross-party support within the Council for combating antisemitism in all its manifestations. This Council hereby adopts the above definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism.”

they are being invited to adopt a weaponised version; not the definition set out by the IHRA and endorsed by the UK Government. FSOI has been publicising the legal problems of adopting that definition, this variation makes the QC’s opinion all the more applicable.

FSOI has been alerting defenders of Palestinian Rights of the dangers of IHRA adoption. It is important that they now alert their local councillors of the pressure from Israel’s apologists to this change in wording. The alert must not be to get Councils to revert to the original wording. It must to point out the revelation of the whole intent of the push behind the definition: Not to defend Jews but to protect Israel.

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