Labour branch sparks fury by suggesting IHRA antisemitism definition is part of Israeli campaign

Lewisham Deptford CLP passes motion saying 'Israeli government resources an international campaign to conflate criticism of itself with antisemitism'


A constituency Labour party has sparked fury by suggesting the IHRA definition of antisemitism is part of a campaign by Israel to protect the Jewish state from criticism.

The CLP for Lewisham Deptford - one of the party's safest seats in the country - made the claim in a motion it passed calling on councils not to support the IHRA definition of Jew-hate.

The party initially refused to include examples the definition gives of how criticising Israel could be antisemitic but eventually adopted the full definition after a huge standoff with its Jewish supporters during the summer.

The motion by Lewisham Deptford CLP, which has a history of anti-Zionist campaigning, suggested "many Jewish and BAME members" were concerned that the IHRA definition was a means to "limit free speech on Israel/Palestine."

Alongside this, it said it was "aware that the Israeli government resources an international campaign to conflate criticism of itself with antisemitism."

The CLP's motion then demands "all Labour Party groups, councillors and mayors" oppose the adoption of the internationally recognised antisemitism definition.

The Labour Against Antisemtism (LAAS) group said in a statement: "This motion is antisemitic under the IHRA definition, promoting 'the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy'.

"Lewisham Deptford Labour should be placed in special measures while a full independent investigation is carried out."

The Jewish Labour Movement's national treasurer Cathy Ashley also wrote on "not in my name", adding on Twitter: "Antisemitism incidents on the rise. This is how Lewisham Deptford Labour Parry responds."

Lewisham Deptford Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft issued a statement on Sunday, distancing herself from the motion.

She sad: "Lewisham Deptford members recently discussed concerns about the application of the IHRA definition of antisemitism in local government.

“I do not share these concerns and believe that this debate ought to have been ended decisively when our NEC backed the IHRA definition in full.”

In an attempt to downplay the signifiance of the anti-IHRA motion vote, CLP tweeted: ”A motion on the IHRA was added to the list of those balloted to take to London Conference. With over 100 voting members in attendance, it came last, with five members voting for it.”

But sources have subsequently told the JC that the motion was passed following a show of hands vote with around 50 members – mainly from the Telegraph Hill and Ladywell branches - supporting it, and 35 voting against.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel said: “Once again, it's clear that too many Labour party members think they know better than Britain's Jews how to define antisemitism. 

"Unfortunately, the bizarre conspiracy theories which permeate this motion are all too reflective of Corbyn's Labour Party".

Far-left activists in neighbouring Lewisham West CLP last week called on their branch to endorse a motion claiming the Jewish Labour Movement, which has been affiliated to the national part for nearly a century, is “not an appropriate body” to conduct antisemitism training.

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