The National Executive Committee of the UK Labour Party adopted on Tuesday afternoon a new set of controversial guidelines on antisemitic behavior which exclude key issues of modern antisemitism and have been strongly opposed by the UK Jewish community.
The guidelines are mostly taken from the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definitions, but omit four critical clauses, leading to accusations that Labour is behaving arrogantly and dismissively of the Jewish community.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews together with the Jewish Leadership Council, two leading Jewish communal organizations, strongly criticized the adoption of the guidelines, while Chief Rabbi of the UK Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote on Monday that Labour’s document constituted an “unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community.”
In addition, 68 leading rabbis from across the spectrum of Jewish denominations in the UK wrote a letter to The Guardian on Monday calling on Labour not to go ahead with this ammended definition.
What’s most shocking about this whole affair is that Labour has not stumbled blindly into this decision. This is a calculated and conscious decision to dismiss the legitimate concerns of the Jewish community and to tell an entire people group how best to define racism against them.
Labour has spent severalweeks defending its position and claiming that it simply “expands and contextualizes” the IHRA. Jon Lansman, the leader of the pro-Corbyn Momentum group and a member of the NEC, went so far as to argue that Labour’s guidelines “should be seen as the new gold standard.”
We have explained before that Labour’s definition of anti-Semitism would get people like Ken Livingstone off the hook, despite the fact he is widely considered to have made deeply anti-Semitic comments. Labour’s new definition of anti-Semitism is also designed to protect Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Why? Because if Labour adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, then Corbyn himself would be labelled an anti-Semite.