The massive pressure by right wing Labour, Zionists, and the right wing media has paid off. The Labour NEC has adopted the IRHA definition and its examples. Previous blogs have explained why we in PSC do not like some of the examples given.
The right wing succeeded in framing the debate. The key issues were about Israel. The NEC had previously accepted the IHRA definition of anti Semitism but not adopted four clauses about Israel.
Imagine if all the headlines over the summer had been “Labour split on the issue of Israel” “Labour NEC split on whether Israel is an Apartheid state”. What would have followed would hopefully have been a rational debate on the policies of the Israeli Government (which evidence shows to be racist) and what is the way forward.
Instead we had an appalling string of headlines attacking Corbyn and the Labour left as an anti-Semite.
“The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”
We in the PSC feared that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was an attempt to silence criticism of Israel. This is shown by the reaction to the NEC addition.
‘Labour Against Anti-Semitism said the move “appears to be about protecting the freedom of racists to present vile views”. A spokesman said: “There can be no caveats, no conditions and no compromises with racism. “We are disappointed by the decision of Labour’s governing body, the NEC, to diminish the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism via the attachment of a ‘clarification’ that risks giving racists in the party a get out of jail card.”
‘Simon Johnson, the JLC’s chief executive, said in a second statement that Corbyn had “attempted shamefully to undermine the entire IHRA definition”, adding that the free speech caveat “drives a coach and horses” through that definition.’
‘Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber called the NEC’s decision “appalling” and claimed the “freedom of expression” clause “totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted”.’
‘Dame Margaret Hodge, who is herself Jewish, said: “He should have simply adopted the full international definitions with absolutely no ifs and buts… “He’s sullied it. I’m saddened that it was sullied by this attempt that there is a get-out clause – the sullying that he was reluctant to go forward.” She had described the NEC’s decision as: “Two steps forward and one step back.”
So the right to defend Palestinians and attack Israel is ‘a step back’ according to Hodge and ‘appalling’ according to Gerber.
‘While the media has a frenzied attack on Corbyn the ‘Israeli government announced a further enlargement of its massive colonial project in the occupied West Bank. Plans were now advanced, it said on Wednesday, for a further 1,000 “homes” in Jewish “settlements” – still the word we must use for such acts of land theft’
Last week is was announced that ‘Trump cuts more than $200 million in U.S. aid to Palestinians’
This is part of an attempt to remove refugee status for the Palestinians.
The blockade of Gaza goes on. The prevention of free movement to Palestine goes on. The oppression goes on.
The fact is that Israel is built to privilege people of Jewish ethnicity over that of the Palestinians. Its racist policies flow from defending and perpetuating that structure. It steals Palestinian lands and water. In the west Bank it has established an apartheid state. These are unpalatable facts to the right wing Labour, the media, and to the Zionists. The statements are not anti Semitic. Only a minority of Jews and some right wingers, support expansionist Israel and its establishment of Apartheid. We need to shift the debate from a flawed definition of anti Semitism, to what is happening in Palestine.