Read Labour's new definition of antisemitism that has caused so much anger

Lee Harpin explains why the guidelines have triggered outrage

July 05, 2018 11:33

This is how Labour under Jeremy Corbyn attempt to define what constitutes antisemitism under its own rules.

The new 16-point code of conduct has adopted some of the existing points made in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism - which has been adopted by the current government, the Crown Prosecution Service and other nations around the world.

But, crucially, the new Labour Party version omits some of the explicit references to how criticism of Israel can easily stray into antisemitic discourse.

These were contained in the list of examples attached to the full IHRA definition.

Read the guidelines in full below





The Labour Party's ruling body, the national executive committee (NEC), has approved their own re-written version, which will be used as guide in the scores of pending disciplinary cases of members accused of antisemitism.

What is immediately obvious is the attempt to weaken the guidelines around how and when criticism of Israel can stray into territory that is obviously antisemitic.

Remarkably, the new guidelines even suggest that Israel's "description of itself as a 'Jewish state' can cause particular difficulty in the context of deciding whether language or behaviour is anti-Semitic."

They also say that the use of "Zionist" and "Zionism" in a positive way by pro-Israel supporters is also deemed problematic.

They also the contain the suggestion that there is a need to prove “antisemitic intent” in relation to criticism of the state of Israel along with the suggestion that: “It is not antisemitism to refer to ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionists’ as part of a considered discussion about the Israeli state.”

In an apparent acknowledgment that it is acceptable to compare the actions of Israel with some of the most repressive regimes in history, the guidelines state: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors from examples of historic misconduct.

"It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”

In a joint statement, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein said it was "impossible to understand" why Labour was not accepting the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

They said: “It is for Jews to determine for themselves what antisemitism is. The UK Jewish community has adopted in full the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as have the British Government, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, 124 local authorities across the country and numerous governments around the world...

"(Labour's) actions only dilute the definition and further erode the existing lack of confidence that British Jews have in their sincerity to tackle antisemitism within the Labour movement.”

Reacting to the new NEC guidelines, a senior official from one Jewish communal group said: “We don’t accept that the IHRA Working Definition needs to be re-written.

"But even if we did, the current Labour Party leadership are the last people we would choose to do it."It is insulting for them to think they are in a position to tell the Jewish community how to define antisemitism.”

Another said: "Labour's new rules put antisemitism on a different level to all other forms of racism.

"The repeated suggestion that there is a need to prove antisemitic intent means people who are accused of anti-Jewish conduct will be able to argue that they are life-long anti-racists, and therefore can't possibly be antisemites.

"The whole thing stinks."

July 05, 2018 11:33

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