Following the decision by Enfield North and Luton South Constituency Labour Parties last night to censure their Members of Parliament for speaking out against antisemitism within the Labour Party, JLC Chief Executive Simon Johnson said:
“When the Jewish community speak of institutional antisemitism against Jews in the Labour Party, little can illustrate the example better than Party members gathering and hijacking a local constituency meeting to censure their Member of Parliament for speaking out against antisemitism.
Joan Ryan MP has been unwavering in her support for the Jewish community for decades and we greatly appreciate everything that she has done for our community whilst serving as an MP. The decision to censure her is a disgrace and should bring shame to the Labour Party leadership.
Gavin Shuker MP also bravely spoke out on BBC Newsnight this week in favour of the Labour Party adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full. No Member of Parliament should face sanctions for taking such a principled stand. When we met with Jeremy Corbyn, we asked him clearly to use his voice to put an end to intimidation like this. His silence is deafening.”
We welcome the news that the Liberal Democrats have formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition including all its examples. This is a bold move and will send a signal to the Jewish community that it has taken our concerns over antisemitism seriously.
The definition has been fully welcomed by all the mainstream Jewish communal bodies. It is designed to help ensure clarity around what constitutes antisemitism. The adoption of the definition will allow the party to deal with any cases appropriately.
We will be writing to the Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP to thank him for his support.
Following consultation with the Jewish Leadership Council, Community Security Trust and the Antisemitism Policy Trust, the Plaid Cymru Westminster MPs have followed the example set by Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament UK Government, and adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in full.
There will also be a motion presented to Plaid Cymru’s National Council at the next opportunity. This will request Plaid Cymru as a whole adopts the IHRA definition in full and un-amended.
The definition has been fully welcomed by all the mainstream Jewish communal bodies. It is designed to help ensure clarity around what constitutes antisemitism. The new description is a clear and practical working definition of antisemitism. It is hoped that through adopting it, confidence will be created within the historic Welsh Jewish community and in Plaid Cymru’s stance as a party which rejects prejudice.
Liz Saville Roberts, Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru said:
‘’On behalf of my Plaid Cymru colleagues in Westminster, I am proud to take a stand against prejudice on the grounds of race or religion. Political parties must be alert to their leadership role in resisting hate crime in all its manifestations.’’
Marc Levy, Northwest Regional Manager, Jewish Leadership Council said:
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Liz Saville Roberts MP and Hywel Williams MP. Their positive and constructive engagement with the Jewish community has been hugely appreciated. This concluded with the Westminster group of MPs adopting the full IHRA definition. I am also grateful that they intend on bringing the matter before the forthcoming Plaid National Council. This will ensure that the whole Party take the important step of adopting the IHRA definition.
On behalf of the Jewish Leadership Council, I would like to place on record my gratitude to Liz and Hywel for being so receptive to the concerns of the Jewish community.”
Danny Stone MBE, Director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust said:
"We have had a long and positive engagement with Plaid Cymru and were pleased to be able to liaise with the parliamentary party, again, on positive measures to better understand and address antisemitism." "Antisemitism continues to rise across the world and Wales is certainly not immune. In this context, Plaid's efforts towards identifying and educating about antisemitism are critically important.”
Joint response by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council
Post Sabbath, Jewish organisations can now respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s ill-timed and ill-conceived Guardian article on Labour’s antisemitism problem. Once again Mr Corbyn, of all people, has chosen to lecture Jews on antisemitism.
His Guardian piece repeats much of his previous Evening Standard article, published the day we met him to explain our concerns.
In that article and in that meeting, on 24 April, Mr Corbyn made numerous empty assurances regarding communications and being a “militant opponent of antisemitism”.
Sadly, since then, the vilification of our community and its representatives has worsened significantly, both in meetings and throughout Corbynite social media. Whether you call this antisemitic or not, the end result is the same: Jews and those who support them are being purged out of the Party. This is happening from Members of Parliament to local activists.
Without seeking to rebut every point of Jeremy Corbyn’s article, we note his misleading claims regarding consultation with Jewish groups and how his past behaviour utterly belies what he suddenly now says about Zionism not being racism. His words regarding the Holocaust beg the question as to why he has previously sought to relativise it on so many past occasions.
Above all, however, Mr Corbyn’s ideological hostility to the IHRA definition of antisemitism epitomises the enduring problem. His article falsely claimed that Labour’s new Code only sought to alter one part of the definition. As can be plainly seen, the Code alters and relegates four parts that say it may be antisemitic to: 1. Accuse Jews of disloyalty, 2. Compare Israel to Nazi Germany, 3. Hold Israel to unique standards and 4. Call a Jewish State racist. It is quite obvious why Jeremy Corbyn and Seumas Milne are so anxious to diminish these parts of the IHRA definition. Furthermore, it is contemptible that Mr Corbyn cites the Home Affairs inquiry into antisemitism, whilst ignoring what it rightly said about him.
Actions are the only thing that have ever mattered. We heard and read the same words back in April, at the launch of the compromised Chakrabarti Report and before that, when the Baroness Royall’s Report was half-buried. None of the clichés and promises have been met, the hatred and vilification has intensified and the purging is now gathering pace. These are the actions that should matter, not just to Jews, but to all decent people who believe in fundamental liberal democratic principles.
From Simon Johnson, Jewish Leadership Council. 27th July 2018.
Arthur Goodman ( Letters, July 26) references the Chief Rabbi’s support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism but fails to mention the support from 68 other rabbis, ranging from the strictly orthodox to the reform and liberal movements. This unanimity is unprecedented in our community. What does that say about the depth of feeling towards the Labour party’s position?
Anti-Semitism is evil wherever it is found and it certainly exists across our political spectrum. We call it out wherever we find it and currently we are finding it among Labour party members more frequently than we would like. Those who wish to criticise policies of the Israeli government should welcome the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism as it clearly states “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic”.
The definition does however make it clear that it is unacceptable to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own country.
The IHRA definition is the only one that has widespread support from Jewish communal bodies and our religious leadership. It has been adopted by the UK government, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, well over 100 local authorities across the country and numerous governments around the world. Given that the Labour party has said it has adopted the Chakrabarti report, which states that the party should set itself higher standards than wider society, Labour must ask itself why it is not on that list. Until it is, we will keep asking.
Jewish Leadership Council
“The decision taken by the NEC today to adopt a watered-down definition of antisemitism will be regarded with a mixture of incredulity and outrage by the overwhelming majority of the UK’s Jews. The suggestion that they will now consult with the Jewish community is an insult, given the complete lack of meaningful consultation up until now.
This is a sad day for the cause of anti-racism in this country. Labour, for so long a Party that put equality and inclusion at the centre of its values, has today decided to claim that it understands antisemitism better than the victims of this vile prejudice and to set its face against the clear views of the Jewish community.
The strength of feeling across the breadth of the Jewish community could not have been clearer and many will see this as a deliberate provocation, built on misrepresentations of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and double standards for the treatment of British Jews.
The NEC has chosen to disregard the views of the Jewish community, an unprecedented show of unity by rabbis from every part of the community and even its own parliamentarians. They have distorted and diluted the IHRA definition of antisemitism that is widely accepted and used by the Jewish community, the UK Government, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police, and dozens of local authorities, to create their own weaker, flawed definition whose main purpose seems to be to protect those who are part of the problem.
We are grateful to all those in the Party who have shown their support for the Jewish community, but by taking this decision the Party leadership has placed Labour on the wrong side of the fight against antisemitism, intolerance and racism. Their failure to consult with the Jewish community until now is a betrayal of basic anti-racist principles. On its current trajectory, Labour is failing British Jews and it is failing as an anti-racist party.
To be absolutely clear, we reject the NEC’s self-serving definition and call on Labour to think again.”