LABOUR rightwingers are trying to “bully” the party into adopting a flawed definition of anti-semitism, the Jewish Socialists’ Group charged today.
MPs and lobbying groups such as Labour Against Anti-Semitism have attacked the party’s national executive committee (NEC) for adopting guidelines on anti-semitism which do not include controversial examples attached to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition.
Labour Against Anti-Semitism spokesman Euan Philipps said the NEC’s view showed that “the Labour movement has lost its moral compass [and] appears to have an institutional anti-semitism issue.”
But the Jewish Socialists’ Group’s David Rosenberg said the association’s definition and examples were not “a tablet of stone.
“Labour’s NEC has done a service to the party and the anti-racist movement by putting a broader, deeper definition. As a Jewish Labour Party member, I welcome it wholeheartedly.
“Pro-zionist Jewish bodies and Labour rightwingers are trying to bully the party into accepting a definition that conveniently conflates anti-semitism with comment on the Israel-Palestine conflict,” he argued.
“They are cynically using it also to attack the left Labour leadership. The same people pushing this definition have nothing to say about racism in the Tory Party, the Tories’ links with anti-semitic and Islamophobic groups or racist policies by the Israeli government against Palestinians and African refugees.”
The Labour NEC’s decision, confirmed on Tuesday, follows the finding by judge Lord Bracadale, in a report commissioned by the Scottish government earlier this summer, that acts committed out of hostility towards a “political entity” should not be considered hate crimes since it would extend the definition “too far.”
“The freedom of speech to engage in political protest is vitally important. For these reasons, I do not recommend extending the range of protected characteristics to include political entities,” Lord Bracadale ruled, citing the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine as an example of activity which was “political in nature” and not racist.
A spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said today that action will be taken against MP Margaret Hodge, who, following the NEC vote, accused him in the Commons of being “a fucking anti-semite and a racist.”
Her insult was “clearly unacceptable under Labour Party parliamentary rules for behaviour between colleagues,” the spokesman said.
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