This declaration has been prepared by Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel as a contribution to the Labour Party’s consultation on its Code of Conduct on Antisemitism. It also has a wider significance.
There has been extended controversy over the adoption by the Labour Party of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. It has been widely recognised that the wording of that definition is so loose that it requires extensive interpretation if it is to be even potentially helpful for disciplinary purposes.
Our submission is based on an understanding of the nature of antisemitism which we believe avoids the obscurities and ambiguities of the IHRA working definition:
Antisemitism is a form of racism. It consists in prejudice, hostility or hatred towards Jews as Jews. It may take the form of denial of rights; direct, indirect or institutional discrimination; prejudice-based behaviour; verbal or written statements; or violence. Such manifestations draw on stereotypes – characteristics which all Jews are presumed to share. Continue reading “What is – and what it is not – Antisemitic Misconduct:”
A new report from the Media Reform Coalition, based on research by Dr Justin Schlosberg from Birkbeck’s Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies, has found significant inaccuracies or misleading coverage in news surrounding antisemitism in the Labour party. Two thirds of the TV news segments analysed contained reporting errors or substantive distortion.
In an in-depth case study of 260 articles and news segments from the UK’s largest news providers (including the BBC, Guardian, Sky News, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and the Huffington Post), the research found 29 examples of false statements or claims, six of them on BBC TV news programmes. A further 66 clear-cut instances of misleading or distorted coverage were identified, including omission of essential facts or right of reply, and contentious claims repeated by journalists without verification or qualification. Continue reading “Labour, Antisemitism and the news”
Tony Lerman argues that we should ditch the IHRA definition because it does more harm than good. It both fails to tackle antisemitism and erodes free speech on Palestine and Israel. This article is reprinted from Open Democracy by permission of the author
In politics, neutralising a toxic controversy and moving on by taking a strategic decision to retreat, withdraw or compromise, may be a prudent course of action. But if this is what members of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) are planning to do today by ditching the amendments it made to some examples of antisemitism in the guidance notes of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism, and embracing the entire text lock, stock and barrel, they would be party to a travesty of justice. The more the definition is held up to the light and subject to public scrutiny, the more we see holes and cracks in its flimsy fabric. Not only is there now overwhelming evidence that it’s not fit for purpose, but it also has the effect of making Jews more vulnerable to antisemitism, not less, and exacerbating the bitter arguments Jews have been having over the nature of contemporary antisemitism for the last 20 to 25 years. Arguments that are inextricably linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict and generated by two questions: Are there forms of criticism of Israel which equate to antisemitism? If so, where is the line between ‘legitimate’ criticism and criticism that spills over into antisemitic hate speech? Continue reading “Labour should ditch the IHRA working definition of antisemitism altogether”
Why conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism makes fighting antisemitism impossible
Robert Cohen explains why Sacks’ comments are dangerous for British Jews as well as attacking Palestinian rights. Reprinted from Patheos by permission of he author
Earlier this week Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made himself look foolish, tarnishing his worldwide reputation as a man of considerable Jewish learning and wisdom by making outlandish criticism of the Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
This morning, on the BBC Andrew Marr Show, he did it again:
“He [Corbyn] implies the majority of British Jews are essentially alien to British culture…he is as great a danger as Enoch Powell.”
For younger readers and those less familiar with U.K. political history, Enoch Powell was a Conservative MP from the 1950s through to the early 70s who Andrew Marr explained to his viewers is “probably the most reviled British figure of the 20th century”. Continue reading “Sacks Vs Corbyn”
Free Speech on Israel submitted this response to the consultation on the NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism on 29 August 2018
Free Speech on Israel is a predominantly Jewish Group most of whose members are members of the Labour Party. It was formed in 2016— following a series of false allegations of antisemitism made against individuals and groups campaigning for Palestinian rights—under the slogan ‘It is not Antisemitic to Oppose Zionism’.
FSOI has always recognised the existence of antisemitism both within the Labour Party and in wider society but have always argued that its prevalence inside the Labour Party has been much exaggerated: to both distract attention from Israel’s repeated breaches of international law and to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Party. Continue reading “FSOI Response to Consultation on the NEC Code”
Dear Lib Peck
I was disappointed, but regrettably not surprised, by your reply which did not address any of the issues we raised about the problems with the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Since we wrote the Guardian has published an essay by Nathan Thrall which describes how the definition was produced as a propaganda weapon in the Israeli campaign against BDS and labelling Israel as an Apartheid state.
This letter was sent to Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council, on 13 August by Jewish members of Lambeth Labour Parties.
Lib Peck’s reply to this letter and Mike Cushman’s response: Lambeth Council leader’s weak defence of IHRA adoption
Dear Lib Peck
As Jewish members of Lambeth Labour Party we are dismayed by your letter to the local shul.
Firstly there is no evidence that antisemitism ‘plagues ….our party’ as you assert. There is a problem of a few members out of half a million who have made antisemitic statements or shared material, mainly out of confusion or ignorance, but possibly on rare occasions out of malice. It is important that the Party adopts a rigorous procedure for dealing with any such abuse, which is exactly what the NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism is carefully constructed to achieve. It is exactly what the loosely worded examples appended to the IHRA definition do not. Continue reading “How Lambeth Council is getting antisemitism and the IHRA wrong”
Stan Keable tells how the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt in the Labour Party has spilled over into political victimisation in the workplace
Reprinted from The Weekly Worker by permission
A Labour council’s inquisition
In its July 10 letter, Hammersmith and Fulham’s Labour-run council has informed me that my appeal against dismissal from my job as a housing enforcer for “bringing the council into disrepute” has been rejected. That exhausts the council’s internal disciplinary procedures, and leaves me free to pursue a wrongful dismissal case in an employment tribunal, after going through the precondition of attempting conciliation via Acas – the government’s advice, conciliation and arbitration service.
The appeal outcome contained no surprises. It was highly predictable, leaving me with the feeling that it was predetermined for – god forbid! – political reasons. It upheld the April 21 verdict of “serious misconduct” and immediate dismissal with salary in lieu of notice – not as harsh, thankfully, as gross misconduct and instant dismissal with no salary. Continue reading “Hammersmith and Fulham Council: Reinstate Stan Keable”
Free Speech on Israel deeply regrets that Ken Livingstone has been driven out of the Labour Party by a concerted campaign of misrepresentations of what he said. FSOI has always stood beside Ken and his statement on resignation clearly lays out why we have been right to do so. He is demonstrably not an antisemite but his opponents want to use his case to intimidate the rest of us into silence on Israel’s crimes. They will fail.
STATEMENT FROM KEN LIVINGSTONE
21 May 2018
After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party. Continue reading “FSOI regrets Ken Livingstone’s resignation from the Labour Party”
Leon Rosselson shows how the Labour Party is in a state of denial about an Israel committed to a fantasy of a two state solution to be achieved through non-existent peace talks
This article is reprinted by permission from Medium
In my last blog I suggested that Israel’s staunch supporters are infected with a brain disease called Zionusitis. It was, of course, a joke. Or maybe it wasn’t. Since then, there has been another enactment of the absurdist farce called Antisemitism in the Labour Party. A demonstration in Parliament Square organised by the (self-selected) British Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council demanded an end to the antisemitism which, so they claim, is now rife in Corbyn’s Labour Party. It was attended by a number of Labour MPs plus various riff-raff from other parties and the usual suspects from the Jewish Labour Movement. Following that, Jeremy Corbyn attended a seder organised by a group of young Jews called Jewdas and was pilloried for consorting with the wrong sort of Jews.
Of course, this has nothing to do with real antisemitism. The Board of Deputies has no problem with the antisemitism of Trump and the American white supremacists or the antisemites in Hungary and Poland, like Viktor Orban, since they are also firm supporters of Israel. Jewdas is attacked as unrepresentative because it is a non-Zionist group. Since Israel claims to represent all the Jews in the world and since Netanyahu claims to speak for ‘the Jewish people’, it would not be surprising if those who are angered by Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians tweet or write criticism of Israel that sometimes topple over into antisemitism. But a report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research found that the level of antisemitism in the country and across the political parties , including the Labour Party, is low; the level of anti-Israelism, on the other hand, is significantly higher. And this is what the Zionist lobby, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Labour Friends of Israel, are concerned about. Continue reading “Israel and the Labour Party: a love story”