UK Jewish Leaders Condemn Labour Party for Watering Down Definition of Anti-Semitism

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: Campaigners from the Campaign Against Antisemitism demonstrate and listen to speakers outside the Labour Party headquarters on April 8, 2018 in London, England. Protesters are calling on Labour's hierarchy to 'hold Jeremy Corbyn to account' after claims that he and the party are not doing …
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VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

The UK’s chief rabbi has warned the Labour Party it is sending an “an unprecedented message of contempt” for Britain’s Jews by adopting a code of conduct which claims it is not anti-Semitic to compare Israel to Nazis or to call Israel racist.

Rabbi Mirvis said it was “a watershed moment” for Labour and urged the National Executive Committee — the Labour’s ruling body — to “make the right decision for Britain”.

This criticism comes after 68 rabbis from across the community signed an open letter, published in The Guardian Monday evening, calling on the NEC to stop “ignoring” the Jewish community in light of the party’s recent anti-Semitism controversies.

The proposed Labour code of conduct’s definition of anti-Semitism takes some aspects from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which is the global standard for defining that form of discrimination.

But Labour’s proposed definition omits four examples: claiming that Israel’s existence is a racist endeavour; accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel than Britain; requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than from other countries; and comparing Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.

The Party’s NEC meets Tuesday to vote on formally adopting the new code of conduct. However, on Monday evening Labour MPs defied party leadership and overwhelmingly voted to back the full IHRA definition.

One MP who rebelled against the NEC, the parliamentary chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, Luciana Berger, said:  “It sends a strong signal that we [Labour MPs] adopt the IHRA definition in full, including all the specific examples it includes, and that any attempt to tinker, water down, or otherwise amend it must be resisted.”

“The IHRA definition of antisemitism is the internationally-recognised document which defines and explains the ways hatred towards Jews is expressed.

“And yet some within the Labour Party have sought to revisit Labour’s historic support for the IHRA definition and all the examples that accompany it, and write their own version,” she added.

Since socialist Jeremy Corbyn — who called anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” — was elected party leader, Labour has been embroiled in several cases of anti-Semitism amongst its ranks including the suspension of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone for claiming there was “real collaboration” between Zionists and Nazis before the Second World War and MP Naz Shah who was suspended for calling for the “transportation” of Israelis out of the Middle East on social media.

An investigation conducted at the request of Corbyn and headed by human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti in 2016 allegedly found no indication of institutional anti-Semitism within Labour which led to Jewish community leaders calling the findings a “whitewash” and a “fraud”.

Chakrabarti was nominated for a peerage by the party leader just a few weeks afterwards.

Corbyn’s influence over the party was strengthened after candidates backed by the far-left grassroots group Momentum swept NEC elections in January. 

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