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.”
JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein held a town hall with members of the Manchester Jewish community last night. The event, held at King David High School, was part of a series of events the JLC Chair is holding around the country to engage with members of British Jewry.
The meeting was attended by representatives of JLC member organisations, activists, numerous local councilors from Bury, Salford, Manchester and Trafford, along with members of the Jewish Labour Movement.
The failure of the Labour Party to tackle left-wing antisemitism dominated the discussion.
Jonathan Goldstein said:
“I’m grateful for the hospitality of Manchester Jewry during my visit and for the opportunity to discuss a range of issues, including the grave situation of the Labour Party with members of the community and with the Manchester Jewish Representative Council. We had an open and robust conversation about the road ahead. Most importantly, I am heartened by how united we stand as Jews across the country and meet the challenges we face in the future”.
In response to the new guidelines on antisemitism published by the Labour Party, Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council and Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said:
"It is for Jews to determine for themselves what antisemitism is. The UK Jewish community has adopted in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism, as have the British Government, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, 124 local authorities across the country and numerous governments around the world. It is impossible to understand why Labour refuses to align itself with this universal definition. Its actions only dilute the definition and further erode the existing lack of confidence that British Jews have in their sincerity to tackle antisemitism within the Labour movement."
JLC CEO on Yesterday's KeshetUK Training
"Earlier this year, KeshetUK presented to our Council of Members to discuss their work with LGBT+ members of the Jewish community and how as a community, we can be more diverse and inclusive.
That was the start of an ongoing discussion about how the JLC can work more closely with KeshetUK. Yesterday, JLC staff - including those in out PaJeS and Lead divisions - received their well-established diversity and inclusion training.
The session was thoroughly productive and a real learning curve for me and all of our staff. It was well presented, informative and practical and a step in the right direction to ensure that every member of the community feels welcome and included.
We encourage other organisations, particularly our members to sign up for the training."
Visit www.keshetuk.org for more information.
JLC Chair, Jonathan Goldstein writes to the Times about a missed opportunity by Jeremy Corbyn. You can read the letter here.
The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) has responded to the government’s Integrated Communities Strategy green paper by submitting a formal response to the consultation.
The Integrated Communities Strategy green paper, released in March 2018 in response to the Casey Review is the government’s vision for “building strong integrated communities where people live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities”.
The green paper sets out a programme of proposed actions to take across government to deliver the vision at the local and national level.
On Tuesday 15th May 2018, the Jewish Leadership Council hosted a Shavuot Lunch for Jewish Peers and friends in the House of Lords.
Hosted by Lord Palmer, Lord Glasman, Lord Leigh and Baroness Neuberger, Peers heard speeches from JLC Chair, Jonathan Goldstein, the Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev, and a d’var Torah given by Rabbi Joseph Dweck. Overlooking the Thames river, and enjoying some cheesecake was the perfect way to welcome the festival and thank our friends in the House of Lords for their hard work and support.