Archbishop of Canterbury praises Labour MPs for backing full IHRA antisemitism definition

He tells Chief Rabbi he the Church of England should do the same


The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Church of England should adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism without caveats - and made a thinly veiled swipe of Labour's leadership for failing to do the same.

The Archbishop visited the Chief Rabbi at his home on Thursday, in a meeting prior to the Jewish New Year.

He said he was pleased Labour MPs had voted to adopt the IHRA in full, without caveats, unlike the party's governing body, its National Executive Committee, which only adopted it after a prolonged row with the Jewish community and then added a "free speech" clause amid claims the definition undermined criticism of Israel.

During a discussion of the situation for the UK’s Jewish community, the Archbishop said: “Personally I’m very pleased that the Parliamentary Labour Party has accepted IHRA without any riders or caveats of any kind at all.

“I think that’s excellent news.”

On Wednesday, the Parliamentary Labour Party voted by 205 votes to eight, to adopt the full IHRA definition, with no caveats.

This was in defiance of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in the wake of Tuesday’s decision by the NEC to include a  so-called “free speech caveat” on Israel and Palestine.

The Archbishop went on to say that “my feeling is we as a Church need to adopt IHRA formally; I’m distressed that it should be necessary but I think it is necessary.”

His comments were part of a discussion on the situation of the Jewish community in Britain, with the Chief Rabbi saying that things had “deteriorated” in the past year.

““What we have found particularly upsetting is that after three years of inaction, during which we’ve waited for the Labour Party to show they are actually serious about tackling antisemitism, now we’ve found during the past summer that they haven’t even known where the starting blocks are; how do you define it," the Chief Rabbi said.

“Ever since the Holocaust we never thought for one moment we would again need to defend our Jewishness, our identity, our existence.

"It is, to us, unbelievable what is actually happening now. We are absolutely determined to ensure that there will be a stop to this scourge of antisemitism. Across all institutions in this country, there should be a zero tolerance.

“We want to have a great, wonderful and happy future in the country that we love. We’re Jewish and British, we’re British and we’re Jewish, and I’m proud of the strength that we’re showing right now.”

The Archbishop ended by wishing the UK’s Jewish community “in all its different parts… a wonderful new year.

“To wish you especially, and this would be our prayer, an increase in your sense of security and peace and assurance of your future,” he said.

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