The man helping to lead Labour’s inquiry into antisemitism is a named supporter of a group which has dismissed allegations of Jew-hatred in the party as “baseless and disingenuous”.
Professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism, was named by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as vice-chairman of the inquiry - led by Shami Chakrabarti, former head of campaign group Liberty - which will look into claims of antisemitism among the party members.
On Sunday, IJV released a statement which expressed concern “at the proliferation in recent weeks of sweeping allegations of pervasive antisemitism within the Labour Party.”
It added: “Some of these allegations against individuals are, in our view, baseless and disingenuous; in other cases, ill-chosen language has been employed.”
IJV continued: “We are equally concerned, however, by the way in which such accusations are deployed politically – whether by the press, the Conservative Party, opponents of Corbyn’s leadership within Labour, or by those seeking to counter criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. The current climate is quickly coming to resemble a witch-hunt, in which statements and associations, some going back years, are being put under the microscope.”
IJV went on to express “dismay” that “anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia” were not receiving the same attention.
Prof Feldman has been asked for comment.
In a "sub report" submitted to last year’s All Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism, Prof Feldman dismissed most regularly used definitions of antisemitism. He wrote: “Definitions of antisemitism based on double standards, the EUMC working definition, perceptions and outcomes have not been adopted in this sub-report.”
Labour’s inquiry was launched after several members of the party were disciplined for antisemitic comments, culminating last Thursday in the suspension of Ken Livingstone, a member of the party’s National Executive Committee, for claiming that Hitler had been a supporter of Zionism.