UK Labour MPs defy Corbyn, adopt official stance on antisemitism

July 17, 2018 by JNS
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Members of Parliament with the United Kingdom’s Labour Party have defied leader Jeremy Corbyn by adopting the full and unamended version of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of antisemitism.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, May 12, 2017.
Credit: Chatham House, London/Wikimedia Commons

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, several Labour MPs attacked the move to adopt a new definition of antisemitism backed by General Secretary Jennie Formby.

“The PLP adopts the full IHRA definition of antisemitism, including all of its accompanying examples, and believes this should be used to define, understand and act against antisemitism in the Labour Party,” the motion said.

The move to adopt the IHRA’s full version of antisemitism, which is already widely recognized by a number of British government institutions, comes as the leadership of the Labour Party amended the definition to leave out some formal examples of antisemitism that largely dealt with Israel.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, this included “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own nations, claiming that the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and comparing Israeli actions to the Nazis.”

Labour’s leadership has argued that those examples are already covered in a wider new code of conduct.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a British watchdog group, praised the move by the Labour MPs, saying that the “Jewish community is best placed to define antisemitism.”

“We commend the brave Labour MPs who have stood up to their leaders today in defence of the Jewish community, and frankly in defence of decency,” the group said.

The Labour Party’s national executive committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to decide whether or not to adopt the full or amended version.

At the same time, 68 British rabbis called on Labour to adopt the full, unamended definition of antisemitism.

“The Labour party’s leadership has chosen to ignore those who understand antisemitism the best, the Jewish community,” the rabbis wrote. “By claiming to know what’s good for our community, the Labour party’s leadership have chosen to act in the most insulting and arrogant way.”

Since taking over as leader of the Labour Party in 2015, Corbyn and his party has been dogged by allegations of antisemitism—allegations that he denies.

In an open letter to Corbyn earlier this year, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council said the Labour leader was “repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly antisemitic views,” but “claims never to hear or read them.”

“We conclude that he cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far-left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities,” they wrote.


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