The Labour Party’s ruling body have decided to meet and discuss whether they will fully adopt an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism.
This comes following the recent anti-Semitism row which Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been experiencing over the past few months.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance created a definition which was used by Labour in its code of conduct. However, not all examples of the definition were included.
On Tuesday, many rival protest groups stood outside the Labour Party’s headquarters, where the national executive committee meeting was held, in protest of the calls for Labour to fully follow the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism.
Rival protesters chanted “Labour fascists off our streets” and “for many, not the Jew” whilst wrapped in Israeli flags.
Whilst those protesting against changing the code held signs which stated “anti-zionism does not equal anti-semitism” and “criticism of Israel is not anti-semitism”.
Nonetheless, Corbyn has stated that the party is no place for prejudice and pledged that he is willing to protect Jewish members from abuse. However, he also stated that he would allow for debates on the role of Israel within the Middle East, its contribution to the peace in the region and justice for Palestinians.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has told LBC radio that she would investigate a collection of leaked internal documents from the Labour party which detailed as many as 45 cases of alleged anti-Semitism of which 17 could be reported to the police for investigation.
Deputy leader of the Labour party, Tom Watson, stated that if the NEC were to adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism in full, then it would be the ” start of a new conversation with the Jewish community in Britain”.
Journalist and Labour supporter, Michael Segalov, has also stated that Labour should adopt the definition in full whilst still maintaining “clarifications”. He told Today that some of the conditions had a tendency to divert towards “restricting the right of Palestinians to describe their own experiences of oppression”.
He believes that there were “some people within the Labour Party who are using this as a opportunity to have digs at Jeremy Corbyn and have digs at the labour Party more broadly”.
The IHRA’s working definition is as follows:
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.
Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Labour left out 4 out of 11 of the IHRA’s examples of anti-Semitism from their code of conduct.
Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home countries, claiming that the existence of Israel as a state is a racist endeavour, requiring specific behaviour fro Israel which is not often expected by other democratic nations and equating or comparing contemporary polices adopted by Israel to those of the Nazis.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told Sky News that she thinks the situation “has been a collective mess”.
She continued: “I think it is a question of decisions that were made in the Labour Party, in the NEC, within the leadership. I think we should all put our hands up to this. We haven’t handled it properly. The thing is, it’s sickening what’s now happening.
The lack of trust between the Jewish community and the Labour Party is really dreadful. And we do now need to start working on it. You can lose trust in a moment.
Criticism of Israel can be used as a cover, Zionism can be used as a cover for deep-seated for antisemitism and we need to be sensitive to that and we need to be aware of the fact that there are people in the Labour Party, and Labour supporters, whose behaviour and language is antisemitic. It is unacceptable.
We need to make sure that we have a working definition, we have a proper code, that we can start applying properly, and these people have no place in our party, and we need to start kicking them out.”
In contrast to this, former mayor of London Kev Livingstone stated:
” We don’t want to be in a position where somebody ends up being suspended for having made a legitimate criticism of Israel.
So if we do accept this definition in exactly the way it’s been poorly drafted, I think we’ve got to be absolutely clear that our disciplinary machine is absolutely clear about exactly how you interpret it.”