The Labour Party’s new definition of what constitutes antisemitism is beyond belief. For a party that has struggled to properly deal with anti-Semitism over the past two years, Labour’s leadership has one again failed in its tackling of hatred against Jews by excluding parts that relate to Israel.
Under the new guidelines, the very cases that brought the problem to light would be deemed not anti-Semitic. This isn’t just a weak approach to tacking the allegations. It is further confirmation – if we needed any – proving that the Labour leadership is institutionally anti-Semitic towards the Jewish State.
The new 16-point code used some of the language used in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is now widely accepted as the most useful definition and has been adopted by the government, the Crown Prosecution Service, many local councils and many other countries.
But instead of adopting the definition as agreed by all these bodies, Labour has weakened those areas where anti-Semitism is rooted in a hatred for Israel.
For example there is a suggestion that there is a need to prove “antisemitic intent” in relation to criticism of the state of Israel along with the suggestion that: “It is not antisemitism to refer to ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionists’ as part of a considered discussion about the Israeli state.”
Among the points in the IHRA definition of antisemitism dropped by Labour were:
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Remarkably, the new guidelines even suggest that Israel’s “description of itself as a ‘Jewish state’ can cause particular difficulty in the context of deciding whether language or behaviour is anti-Semitic.”
Furthermore, in an apparent acknowledgement that it is acceptable to compare the actions of Israel with some of the most repressive regimes in history, the guidelines state: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors from examples of historic misconduct.
“It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”
This would mean that when Ken Livingstone sparked outrage when he said in an interview that “Hitler supported Zionism”, there would have been no need for the two-year suspension. It would have been deemed not antisemitic by Labour’s interpretation of its own guidelines. The comments eventually led him to resign earlier this year, not because he accepted guilt, but because he believed his case had become a “distraction” for the party. The new guidelines are Livingstone’s legacy.
Rather than listening to the Jewish community and supporting an existing framework on anti-Semitism, Labour has decided to write its own rules on what it believes is and is not anti-Semitic.
Unless the Labour leadership reforms its attitude towards Israel it will continue to fail in appropriately addressing the problem of anti-Semitism. Without clear moral clarity, it is impossible to successfully root out anti-Semitism within the Party, whilst holding such a biased anti-Israel policy. Defining anti-Semitism, let alone rooting it out, will therefore continue to be a problem to the Labour leadership until it reforms its stance on Israel.
Christians United for Israel UK