The UK Labour Party agreed on Tuesday to adopt the full international definition of anti-Semitism in an effort to lay months of public rows and ugly accusations of racism to rest. For now, anyway.
The leftist party will embrace all 11 examples of anti-Semitism cited by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance into its code of conduct, but Jewish groups have already attacked an accompanying statement agreed by the NEC aimed at protecting free speech.
One warned it risked giving “racists a get-out-of-jail card” as some MPs made their thoughts clear on Twitter that the party’s divisions are anything but healed.
— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) September 4, 2018
That the NEC has reached the right conclusion is welcome and, frankly, a relief. We’ve got to repair the hurt this row has caused. Let’s root out the racists, put in place training and bust the myth that this decision undermines the cause of Palestinian human rights and statehood https://t.co/8RzWmuB2uG
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) September 4, 2018
In a further blow to party solidarity, leader Jeremy Corbyn was forced to withdraw a statement, because he lacked support, which argued it should not be “regarded as anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist.”
Labour Against Antisemitism, which described the “freedom of expression” statement as “a get out of jail card”.
“There can be no caveats, no conditions and no compromises with racism,” a spokesman said.
“The NEC has been told repeatedly that it needs to adopt the IHRA in full, without caveats or conditions, if it wants the Labour Party to begin the process of dealing with its antisemitism crisis.
“It has ignored the requests of the Jewish community and denied the fundamental right of that community to define its own discrimination.”
Labour Friends of Israel echoed the criticism, saying: “A ‘freedom of expression on Israel’ clause is unnecessary and totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted.”
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