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Labour Jewish affiliate in row with party over antisemitism code Labour Jewish affiliate in row with party over antisemitism code
(about 2 hours later)
Labour’s official Jewish affiliate has threatened formal dispute proceedings against the party unless it accepts an international antisemitism definition in full, in a leaked letter seen by the Guardian.Labour’s official Jewish affiliate has threatened formal dispute proceedings against the party unless it accepts an international antisemitism definition in full, in a leaked letter seen by the Guardian.
In a significant escalation, Jewish Labour Movement chairs Ivor Caplin and Luciana Berger, MP Liverpool Wavertree, have written to members of Labour’s ruling national executive committee, accusing the general secretary, Jennie Formby, of misleading committee members.In a significant escalation, Jewish Labour Movement chairs Ivor Caplin and Luciana Berger, MP Liverpool Wavertree, have written to members of Labour’s ruling national executive committee, accusing the general secretary, Jennie Formby, of misleading committee members.
Members of the JLM are said to have been outraged that the NEC apparently believed the Jewish activists had signed off the Labour version of the antisemitism definition.Members of the JLM are said to have been outraged that the NEC apparently believed the Jewish activists had signed off the Labour version of the antisemitism definition.
That version has since been criticised by leading Jewish bodies, including the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, who say the party should adopt the full, internationally recognised version with all its examples.That version has since been criticised by leading Jewish bodies, including the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, who say the party should adopt the full, internationally recognised version with all its examples.
JLM, the only Jewish group to be an official Labour affiliate, says it is prepared to enter into formal dispute with the party, which could be a precursor to legal action.JLM, the only Jewish group to be an official Labour affiliate, says it is prepared to enter into formal dispute with the party, which could be a precursor to legal action.
“It is our understanding that the NEC was informed by the general secretary that the Jewish Labour Movement had approved the three papers on tackling antisemitism that were presented yesterday. You were misled,” the letter reads.“It is our understanding that the NEC was informed by the general secretary that the Jewish Labour Movement had approved the three papers on tackling antisemitism that were presented yesterday. You were misled,” the letter reads.
“The papers were briefly shown to two JLM representatives over a short informal meeting; there was no pre-sight of the papers or opportunity to read them in full.”“The papers were briefly shown to two JLM representatives over a short informal meeting; there was no pre-sight of the papers or opportunity to read them in full.”
Labour sources denied that Formby told the NEC equalities committee the definition was approved by JLM, but insisted she had only said that she had met the group to go through the proposed definition, which would then go back to Jewish groups for feedback.Labour sources denied that Formby told the NEC equalities committee the definition was approved by JLM, but insisted she had only said that she had met the group to go through the proposed definition, which would then go back to Jewish groups for feedback.
The equalities committee sparked controversy last week after it agreed to adopt the working definition of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), but failed to include a full list of examples set out by the body. The full NEC is to meet on Tuesday.The equalities committee sparked controversy last week after it agreed to adopt the working definition of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), but failed to include a full list of examples set out by the body. The full NEC is to meet on Tuesday.
Activists have been angered because the rewritten Labour version of the IHRA definition did not include some formal examples of antisemitism, such as accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own nations, claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour and comparing Israeli actions to the Nazis. Activists have been angered because the rewritten Labour version of the IHRA definition did not include some formal examples of antisemitism, such as accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own nations, claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour and comparing Israeli actions to the Nazis. Labour has argued those examples are already covered in the wider new code of conduct.
The JLM letter says the group “formally requests that the NEC urgently and publicly recalls the decision to approve these papers”.The JLM letter says the group “formally requests that the NEC urgently and publicly recalls the decision to approve these papers”.
It is impossible to understand why Labour refuses to align itself with this universal IHRA definition.It is impossible to understand why Labour refuses to align itself with this universal IHRA definition.
The BoD and the JLC, the two bodies who are in formal talks with Labour over its approach to antisemitism, regards the full adoption of the definition as a deal-breaker. They argue that it has been adopted by the UK government, Welsh assembly, Scottish parliament, 124 local authorities across the country and numerous governments around the world.The BoD and the JLC, the two bodies who are in formal talks with Labour over its approach to antisemitism, regards the full adoption of the definition as a deal-breaker. They argue that it has been adopted by the UK 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,” the groups said this week in a joint statement. “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.”“It is impossible to understand why Labour refuses to align itself with this universal definition,” the groups said this week in a joint statement. “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.”
Formby wrote to Labour MPs on Monday setting out the party’s reasoning. “The intention of the IHRA text cannot be to prevent criticism of the Israeli state or Israeli policy for its differential or discriminatory impact on different ethnic or religious groups, which could be inferred from the phrasing of the sub-example,” she said.Formby wrote to Labour MPs on Monday setting out the party’s reasoning. “The intention of the IHRA text cannot be to prevent criticism of the Israeli state or Israeli policy for its differential or discriminatory impact on different ethnic or religious groups, which could be inferred from the phrasing of the sub-example,” she said.
“Such criticism is of course not in itself racist, but risks becoming so if criticism is levelled in circumstances where another state pursuing similar policies would not face the same criticism.”“Such criticism is of course not in itself racist, but risks becoming so if criticism is levelled in circumstances where another state pursuing similar policies would not face the same criticism.”
A Labour source said the JLM had yet to clarify how it intended to proceed with the dispute: “There is no basis on which to dispute the code of conduct within party rules and procedure.”A Labour source said the JLM had yet to clarify how it intended to proceed with the dispute: “There is no basis on which to dispute the code of conduct within party rules and procedure.”
The source said the IHRA wording on some examples was “too vague for application by a political party, so it has been adapted, expanded on and contextualised”.The source said the IHRA wording on some examples was “too vague for application by a political party, so it has been adapted, expanded on and contextualised”.
The party had to allow “legitimate criticism of the actions or policies of the Israeli government, but the code makes absolutely clear that any antisemitic language or behaviour will not be tolerated and will treated as a breach of party rules”, the source added.The party had to allow “legitimate criticism of the actions or policies of the Israeli government, but the code makes absolutely clear that any antisemitic language or behaviour will not be tolerated and will treated as a breach of party rules”, the source added.
Formby also criticised Labour MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Keir Starmer and Anna Turley, all of whom criticised the party for not adopting the full IHRA definition with its examples, suggesting they had been on the home affairs select committee when it had suggested changes needed to the made to the definition.Formby also criticised Labour MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Keir Starmer and Anna Turley, all of whom criticised the party for not adopting the full IHRA definition with its examples, suggesting they had been on the home affairs select committee when it had suggested changes needed to the made to the definition.
Turley later shot back a furious email, copied in to all Labour MPs, saying she had not been part of the select committee. “This matters to me because I am wholly opposed to the approach being taken by our party to the IHRA definition, as the attached letter demonstrates,” she wrote.Turley later shot back a furious email, copied in to all Labour MPs, saying she had not been part of the select committee. “This matters to me because I am wholly opposed to the approach being taken by our party to the IHRA definition, as the attached letter demonstrates,” she wrote.
“I am keen to ensure colleagues are under no misapprehension of my view, so have copied this to all recipients.”“I am keen to ensure colleagues are under no misapprehension of my view, so have copied this to all recipients.”
Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service which has adopted the full IHRA definition, has said the party should do likewise.Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service which has adopted the full IHRA definition, has said the party should do likewise.
“I believe in the full definition. Councils, institutions across the country have accepted the full definition. I think that’s the right position to be in,” he said on Sunday.“I believe in the full definition. Councils, institutions across the country have accepted the full definition. I think that’s the right position to be in,” he said on Sunday.
“I would urge everybody within the Labour party to listen to the voices that have come out in recent days and get to a position where we are supporting the full definition. I think it’s really important, including the examples. We have to be very clear about our position on this.”“I would urge everybody within the Labour party to listen to the voices that have come out in recent days and get to a position where we are supporting the full definition. I think it’s really important, including the examples. We have to be very clear about our position on this.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “These are the most detailed and comprehensive guidelines on antisemitism adopted by any political party in this country. They adopt the IHRA definition and contextualise and add to the working examples to produce a practical code of conduct that a political party can apply in disciplinary cases.”A Labour spokesperson said: “These are the most detailed and comprehensive guidelines on antisemitism adopted by any political party in this country. They adopt the IHRA definition and contextualise and add to the working examples to produce a practical code of conduct that a political party can apply in disciplinary cases.”
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