Join us at Labour Party conference 2018!

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Are you planning on coming to Liverpool for Labour Party conference? Can you help us out with our intervention? Check out eight key events at conference below.

We are at a crucial moment in the civil war in the party, with the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the party reaching ever new heights. We understand that in addition to their plans to force Corbyn’s hand on Brexit (there is a demo planned on Sunday afternoon) and the ongoing smears around Anti-Semitisn, the right is also planning on sabotaging conference wherever possible. Please check out this article, which also mentions that there are plans to disturb any meetings with Chris Williamson MP.

We therefore have to remain somewhat flexible, but also vigilant. Please do not get drawn into altercations and do not let right-wingers provoke you. We know they will try and they will in all likelihood have somebody with a camera nearby. They will want to make us look like dangerous lunatics – let’s not do them the favour. Try and stay together with at least one other person, so you have a witness and some form of protection. Keep your mobile phone nearby so you can film any incidents – best to have evidence!


What you can do at conference

  • If you are a delegate, please support the rule change on mandatory reselection from International Labour: it wants to do away with the undemocratic trigger ballot entirely and is much more democratic than the fudge apparently proposed by the national executive committee
  • Also, please support the rule change to delete the first part rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) proposed by Mid Worcestershire, Rugby, Truro and Falmouth, Bexhill and Battle: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers
  • Join Labour Against the Witchhunt! Come to see us at our fringe events or stalls outside conference and The World Transformed (1 Great George St, L1), where you can pick up a bunch of our new leaflet to hand out
  • If you can help out, please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org, letting us know if you’re a delegate or visitor (or neither), when you’ll be arriving and when you are leaving – make sure to include your mobile number! Facebook event here.

Eight key LAW events at conference

We are handing out LAW leaflets and badges throughout the event, but here our are key interventions – can you be there? Please note that all of our events are outside the official conference venue, so you don’t need to have a pass for conference to attend. You also do not need to purchase a ticket upfront – just be there early enough to secure your place!

1) Saturday September 22, 6-6.30pm Emergency lobby of pre-conference NEC meeting called by LAW and Open Selection, Pullman Hotel, Kings Dock St, Liverpool L3 4FP. Facebook event here

2) Saturday September 22from 6.30pm Labour rally with Jeremy Corbyn, Pier Head, L1. We need comrades to help hand out our LAW leaflet. Facebook event here

3) Saturday September 22 from 6pm: Rally and briefing session of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Friends Meeting House, 22 School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BT. We need comrades to help hand out our leaflet.

4) Sunday September 23, from 8.30am, outside conference. We are greeting delegates and visitors as they arrive, with a little surprise – we need as many comrades as possible to come to this.

5) Sunday September 23, 12noon, ‘People’s Vote’ demonstration, from St George’s Hall to the Pierhead. Left-wing voices should be heard here, too.

6) Sunday September 23, 7pm:
Fringe event at Labour Party Conference:
Labour Against the Witchhunt!
with Chris Williamson MP, comedian Alexei Sayle, Jo Bird (Jewish Voice for Labour), Tony Mulhearn (Liverpool 47) and others
Roddick Rooms, 54 St James Street, Liverpool L1 OAB. Facebook event here

7) Monday September 24, 7.30pm
Jackie Walkers’ The Lynching at Labour Party conference
LAW proudly presents Jackie Walker’s celebrated show, in which Jackie will be played by actress Jo Martin. The venue will be announced closer to the date. Please check this page, the FB event or pick up a leaflet at conference. After the play, there will be a Q&A with Steve Tiller, the director of the play and Jo Bird of Jewish Voice for Labour. Facebook event here 

8) Tuesday September 25, 7pm
World film preview: The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker
Introduction and post-show discussion by Graham Bash (Jewish Voice for Labour) and John Pullman, director of the film.
Blackburne House, Blackburne Place, L8 7PE. 
Facebook event here

Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!

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We, the undersigned, are greatly concerned about recent communication from Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby aimed at Facebook groups which have ‘Labour Party’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in their title (the full letter is below).

We are particularly outraged by the following passage which states “posts and conversations with antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content” should be emailed to “complaints@labour.org.uk with screenshots and links […] if you believe the individual who has posted them may be a Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party.

As Facebook users, we reject any attempt to make us informers to Labour’s dysfunctional disciplinary processes. Social media and Facebook are effective because they allow the exchange of ideas, even if at times clumsily expressed. Most Facebook groups police themselves adequately, without the assistance of a compliance unit, whose targets to date have almost exclusively been

  • on the left of the Party
  • supporters of Palestinian rights
  • critics of Israel and Zionism
  • and disproportionately black and Jewish

Given the Labour Party’s recent adoption of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which in the words of the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, is “calculatedly misleading” and the IHRA’s purposeful conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, we have no confidence that free speech to criticise Israel will be guaranteed, if this approach is accepted across social media.

What constitutes anti-Semitism remains disputed. The traditional definition, as per the Oxford English Dictionary is, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. The IHRA definition on the other hand takes up over 500 words, many of which refer to Israel.

For example, John McDonnell stated in a recent interview with Jewish News: “What we’re saying is it’s anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state”. We disagree. Opposing a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. It is not ant-Semitism to state this fact.

Your letter, as an attempt to make Facebook users responsible for the conduct of other group members, displays the same method used by the media to smear Jeremy Corbyn when he did not speak up against (the very few) people posting nonsense in a group he happened to be a member of.

We believe the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is bringing the party into disrepute. Your email will yet again fan the flames of this toxic climate, leading to ever more malicious and vexatious allegations and complaints.

We believe that open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism. This new intrusion on free speech can only undermine the extraordinary effectiveness of social media as a tool to support the leader and the left in the party.

We will oppose any attempt to outsource education on anti-Semitism to the Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British wing of the Israeli Labour Party and covertly filmed and leaked a video of Jackie Walker at a closed training event in order to damage the party.

  • We remain determined to eradicate all forms of discrimination from our Party.
  • When we see prejudice or hate, we always speak up.
  • When we see discrimination, we always oppose it.
  • When we are asked to behave unjustly, we always refuse.

SIGN THIS OPEN LETTER HERE.


Full communication from Jennie Formby:

I’m writing to you as I understand that you are an admin or moderator of a Facebook group which refers to the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn in its title. Continue Reading “Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!”

Statement on the September 4 decision to adopt the full IHRA

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The September 4 decision of Labour’s National Executive Committee to back the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a gift to the right in party.

The intent of this document is not to define Anti-Semitism – after all, the Oxford English Dictionarymanages that in six words: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” No, its sole purpose is to conflate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism. Most IHRA examples refer to Israel and the IHRA definition is labeling anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

In their identical front pages of July 25, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraphand Jewish Newsopenly stated that, “Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved [by the NEC], hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.”

Including Jeremy Corbyn, of course. At long last, the witch-hunt in the Labour Party has reached its main target. For the last three years, vastly exaggerated claims that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semites have been used to attack the left. But Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and hundreds of other Labour Party members were little more than collateral damage.

This vicious campaign, orchestrated by the pro-Zionist lobby and the right in the party, never had anything to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn. His pro-Palestinian views and socialist policies make him unacceptable to both.

And now the NEC – on paper dominated by the pro-Corbyn left – has given in once again. Momentum owner Jon Lansman has been lobbying for the adoption of the full IHRA – and he presumably was behind moves to stop even Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘personal statement’, which would have qualified some of the ‘examples’. But Corbyn was told that there “wasn’t a majority for it”.

But even this latest capitulation will not stop the campaign of the right, as Margaret Hodge has already proven: A day before the meeting, she said accepting the full IHRA definition, without any caveats, would not be enough to stop her and others from attacking Corbyn: “I think the moment has passed. The problem is that Jeremy Corbyn is the problem.”

One thing is for certain. The IHRA will not stop the fake anti-Semitism campaign. On the contrary the NEC’s decision has given it renewed strength.

It is time to take a principled stance. The joint demonstration on September 4 by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Against the Witchhunt and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network was magnificent. Over 200 people turned up to show their opposition to the IHRA and to demonstrate their anger at the false accusations of anti-Semitism. A number of Momentum groups were present, as Lansman slunk in without saying a word. Click here for our report.

There is still time to bring this witch-hunt to an end. But Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have to stand up to the enemies of the democratic Labour left:

  • They have to reject the whole IHRA working definition and clearly say that the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semites.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • We need mandatory reselection of all Labour MPs. The right wing saboteurs in the PLP have to go.
  • Momentum has be radically democratised – or abolished.Instead of defending Corbyn, Momentum owner Jon Lansman has sided with the witch-hunters. He has thrown Jackie Walker and Pete Willsman to the wolves and is now ready to abandon Corbyn, too. He wants the term ‘Zionism’ banned. He runs Momentum like a dictator, having abolished all democratic structures.
But democracy and free speech are essential in the struggle to transform our party and society.

 

NEC lobby: no to IHRA, yes to freedom of speech!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt has been lobbying Labour’s NEC meetings since February, for its three basic aims – rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism (because it conflates anti-Zionismm with anti-Semitism), abolition of Rule 2.1.4.B (which allows party apparatchiks to expel members without due process, and is arbitrarily used against the left), and abolition off the hated Compliance Unit (which implements arbitrary instant suspensions and expulsions). Today, September 4, the lobby of the NEC’s special meeting to deal with the so called anti-Semitism crisis in the party, was much enhanced as the lobby was also called by Jewish Voice for Labour, Free Speech on Israel, Camden Momentum, Labour Representation Committee and the recently formed ‘Back the NEC Code’ – launched in frustration at Momentum’s total failure to defend Corbyn from the rightwing anti-Semitism smear campaign. Continue Reading “NEC lobby: no to IHRA, yes to freedom of speech!”

Mass lobby on September 4: Say no to IHRA examples!

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On September 4, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party will be discussing the adoption of ALL examples of the definition on Anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Most of these examples are designed to conflate criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism. If adopted, they would, for example, ban the description of Israel as a racist state. We believe that adopting these examples would be major defeat for the left.

That is of course what this whole campaign is about: to get rid of Corbyn and his supporters and to stop the transformation of the Labour Party into a vehicle for socialist change. For this, we need a culture of open debate and criticism, not a culture of fear and censorship. As socialists, we must defend the right to openly criticise the crimes and injustice committed against the Palestinians.

We call on NEC members to resist this pressure from the right in and outside the party. We are therefore joining other organisations and groups in calling for a mass protest outside Labour Party HQ.

Tuesday September 4, 9am
Labour HQ, Southside,
105 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QT
Bring banners, posters and witches costumes!
Facebook event here

LAW’s leaflet for the event is available here in PDF format.

More background information:

 

Momentum drops Pete Willsman – support the comrade!

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Pete Willsman, stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), is the latest Corbyn supporter in the crosshairs of the right in the Labour Party. Incredibly, in this witch-hunt they are supported by the likes of former left-winger Owen Jones, who calls on people not to vote for Willsman in the forthcoming NEC elections. To make matters worse, Momentum’s leadership has today (August 2) decided to withdraw support from comrade Willsman. It is bad enough dealing with the right in the party – but when the left gets involved in firing shots at its own side, we are in serious trouble!

Clearly, nothing Willsman said at the July NEC meeting was even vaguely anti-Semitic. He has been a staunch supporter of the left within the party for decades and deserves the full support of all genuine socialists and democrats in the Labour movement.

We urge all Labour Party members to vote for him in the current NEC elections. We find it more difficult to call for support for the other eight candidates put up by Momentum. But although we strongly criticise how undemocratically this slate has been put together and believe that quite a few of the candidates on the list have been supportive – or at least silent – on the ongoing witch-hunt, we cannot run the risk of giving the right another seat on the important leadership body.But clearly, the methods employed in choosing the candidates – and some of the candidates – stink to heaven.

If you are a member of Momentum, please send letters of protest to ncg@peoplesmomentum.com and laura.parker@peoplesmomentum.com

Below, a statement issued by Walter Wolfgang:

“I came to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, with a strong and continuing commitment to Judaism, and still attend my synagogue regularly.  I have been a member the Labour Party for 70 years. As a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee myself, I have served with Pete Willsman and know him to be a committed anti-racist and a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. I am dismayed that Pete is under attack at the very time when the ballot for the NEC is taking place, and despite his deep and public apology. Pete Willsman is a staunch champion of party democracy. I will be voting for him, and urge Labour Party members to do likewise.”

  • There have also been renewed attempts to expel from the Labour Party Moshé Machover, LAW’s honorary president and distinguished author on Palestinian rights. When they last expelled him, the party had to reinstate the comrade within the month.
  • Similarly outrageous is the charge against Sheffield Labour Party member Lee Rock, who is currently being investigated by Labour’s compliance unit for what might well be the most ridiculous disciplinary charge we have yet come across. The reason for the investigation is“your participation in an extended debate on a Facebook group, in which you argued in favour of masturbation in workplaces”. We have reproduced an article about this on our website. Clearly, this investigation needs to be shut down – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint. Tony Greenstein also commented on the affair in his pointedly titled article, Labour’s War Against Wankers.

Muddying the water: LAW statement on Labour’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct

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LAW Statement, July 9 2018:

Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct

The Labour Party’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct, issued last week, was clearly intended to put an end to the campaign of false allegations of anti-Semitism. Instead it has achieved the precise opposite. The Code has been the subject of a fierce attack by Zionist organisations and the mass media. It has also caused confusion amongst our allies, some of whom have welcomed it.

The campaign of false allegations is not driven by a failure to define anti-Semitism but is a politically motivated attack by the Right and supporters of Zionism. The Code will not prevent the weaponisation of anti-Semitism by those whose primary concern is defence of Israel, right or wrong. The expulsion of Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Cyril Chilson and others was the product of a deliberate smear campaign aimed at the Corbyn leadership. Those who believe that the Code marks the end of the false anti-Semitism campaign against the Labour Party are sadly mistaken. Continue Reading “Muddying the water: LAW statement on Labour’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct”

Support Stan Keable’s campaign for reinstatement!

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Please support Stan Keable’s campaign for reinstatement. Stan, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, has been sacked for stating an historically verifiable fact. And now his union (Unison) has let him down too. He has been advised of how much a barrister would cost to represent him at an employment tribunal. Please give generously and spread this message. Thank you!

https://www.gofundme.com/ReinstateStanKeable

On April 21 2018, I was dismissed from my job with Hammersmith and Fulham Council after 17 years unblemished service as a housing enforcer, for having “brought the Council into disrepute”, by saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact.

I said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square – nothing to do with work – while participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the rightwing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration.

The BBC’s David Grossman tweeted a 105-second video clip of the conversation, retweeted by Tory MP Greg Hands to H&F Council Labour leader Stephen Cowan and then used by the Council to sack me.

Unison has withdrawn support because I rejected the bad advice of their regional organiser to plead guilty, throwing away the right to demonstrate and to freedom of speech – so I need funds for a barrister and potential legal costs to challenge my political victimisation at an employment tribunal, as well as for campaigning for reinstatement.

My dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. Don’t let me be the first of many political sackings.

Please give generously. Any surplus funds will be passed to Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) for campaigning.

Read more:

My open letter to H&F Councillors:
http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/campaigns/stan-keables-open-letter-to-hammersmith-fulham-labour-councillors-and-party-members/

Mike Cushman – ‘How talking about Zionism can lose you your job’:
http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/keable-sacking/#sthash.ueizxvgU.xeBSvgDw.dpbs

Tony Greenstein – ‘No criticism permitted’:
https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1203/no-criticism-permitted/

LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party

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It is clear from reports such as John Rentoul in The Independent that Ken Livingstone’s resignation was not voluntary but the result of pressure exerted by Jeremy Corbyn and his close associates. We refer in particular to Shami Chakrabarti’s disgraceful attack on Livingstone on BBC’s Sunday Politics (May 13),when she threatened she would quit the Labour front bench if Livingstone was not expelled. Chakrabarti has not only ignored her own recommendations on natural justice and due process but she has also destroyed her own reputation, as a former Director of Liberty, for a belief in freedom of expression.

Nothing Livingstone was alleged to have done could in any way be described as anti-Semitic.  His remark that “Hitler supported Zionism” is confirmed by a host of Holocaust historians.  If he gave offence to supporters of Israel and Zionism it is because of the appalling record historically of Zionism when it comes to fighting real anti-Semites. Continue Reading “LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party”

Mike Cushman: How talking about Zionism can lose you your job

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Mike Cushman reports how Stan Keable (LAW secretary) has been sacked by Hammersmith and Fulham Council for a private conversation when he attended the Jewish Voice for Labour Parliament Square rally on 26 March. This article first appeared on Free Speech on Israel. 

Stan engaged in a discussion with a Zionist during the Parliament Square rally, a conversation that happened to be recorded by the BBC and broadcast. During the one on one discussion Stan talked about the historically undisputed collaboration between the Nazis and the German Zionist leadership. At no time did Stan make any, even remotely, antisemitic.

Hammersmith and Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands circulated the video of the conversation, publicised on Twitter and then referred it to the New Labour Leader of the Council. That letter, which was the first public association of Greg with the Council was made public. This linking of Greg with the Council was the sole basis of the charge of ‘bringing the council into disrepute’. Hands publicised Stan’s link with the Council and then this publicising was, itself, used as the basis for dismissal. An offence that only existed because the complainant had caused it to exist. Continue Reading “Mike Cushman: How talking about Zionism can lose you your job”

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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“Victim of a politically motivated campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”

Labour Against the Witchhunt strongly condemns the outrageous decision to expel Marc Wadsworth after a two-day hearing in front of three right-wing members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.

Marc is the latest victim of the politically motivated witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Marc Wadsworth, a lifelong campaigner against racism, has been smeared and his reputation tarnished, first by the vile and false allegations against him and now, to top it off, by this deeply unjust verdict. Following 22 months of trial-by-media, our comrade had very little chance of receiving a fair hearing – and he did not get one. Continue Reading “LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth”

In solidarity with Marc Wadsworth!

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Great turnout today at the Labour Party expulsion hearing of anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth outside Church House. Credit to Chris Williamson MP who spoke as a witness on behalf of Marc, while Ruth Smeeth MP was ‘accompanied’ into the hearing by a number of right-wing MPs.

Protestors appealed for due process to be applied – which would have to lead to Marc being totally exonerated and reinstated to full membership. He is one of the many victims of the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn supporters. Solidarity, comrade Marc! His hearing is scheduled to last two days.

Click here for a report in The Guardian.

Sign this open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC

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As socialist members and Labour Party supporters, we are firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression. Many of us have been actively campaigning against them for many years, often alongside you, John McDonnell and other comrades.

We know anti-Semitism exists in society and needs to be combatted. But we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where anycriticism of the actions of the state of Israel is now immediately conflated with anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.

Continue Reading “Sign this open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC”

LAW lobby: NEC members sneak in through the back door

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Intrepid opponents of the Labour purge of pro-Corbyn supporters braved freezing weather to be on a lobby of the party’s National Executive Committee today. They included members of Grassroots Black Left, the Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists and Brighton and Hove Momentum. Organised by Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), the high-spirited demo sighted party leader Corbyn, his political advisor Katy Clark and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy secretary Peter Willsman, an NEC member, going into the meeting at Labour’s Southside headquarters in central London. But, mysteriously, despite the people on the lobby being outside the office block an hour before the NEC meeting started, no more members of Labour’s 39-strong ruling body, where the Corbyn-backing Left recently took control, were seen – suggesting they may have slipped into the building from a back entrance to avoid being questioned. The campaigners chanted: “Stop the witch hunts”, “End the suspensions”, and “Implement Chakrabarti now”.

Former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker, who has been suspended by Labour for almost two years, said: “We welcome the resignation of general secretary Iain McNicol and his replacement today by Jennie Formby, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter whom LAW has critically supported. Things are definitely changing in the party, but they are not changing fast enough for a lot of members who remain suspended or expelled based on trumped-up or false charges or simply because they are active supporters of Corbyn.”

Grassroots Black Left’s Marc Wadsworth, the veteran anti-racist campaigner suspended by Labour in June 2016 whose expulsion hearing is on April 25, was on the lobby with Walker and Tony Greenstein, who, despite being Jewish, has been expelled on a false charge of anti-semitism. Wadsworth said: “We demand that the recommendations of the 2016 Chakrabarti report in respect of natural justice and due process are implemented without any further delay. The NEC’s failure to so far make the long-overdue changes has brought the party, that prides itself on upholding justice for all, into disrepute. The divisive purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters has prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while costly Labour resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.”

 

LAW welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to withdraw

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March 11 2018

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to finally listen to his party comrades, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and withdraw as a candidate for the General Secretary post.

We are mystified as to why Lansman, who purports to back the greater representation of women at all levels of the Labour Party, ran against Unite’s Jennie Formby in the first place. LAW critically supports Formby for the job. We are concerned about her record on Labour’s NEC  where it appears she has, as recently as last week, failed to oppose the witch hunting of Jeremy Corbyn supporters by right-wingers who have weaponised false claims of anti-semitism despite Formby herself being the target of such smears. Nobody in the Labour Party can truly be a socialist if they support the purge and that includes the future general secretary.

Lansman, given his record in abolishing all democratic structures within Momentum and imposing a new constitution, is unfit to be Labour General Secretary.

He got rid of the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands”, such as Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus, to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of Momentum.  More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation of oppressed and disadvantaged groups in the Labour Party.

Labour Against the Witchhunt believes that Lansman lacks the democratic credentials necessary to become general secretary of the Labour Party, especially in view of previous General Secretary Iain McNicol’s purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members and the particularly those as a result of false accusations of anti-semitism and others based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

The Labour Party now needs a General Secretary who will put a decisive stop to the witch-hunt who will make sure that all disciplinary charges are dealt with fairly, swiftly, transparently and with the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour membership on trumped-up charges of anti-semitism, following Lansman’s pre-emptive action in removing her as Momentum’s vice-chair, and, at the time, making plain his sympathies with the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement who have championed the witchhunt in order to purge the party of Corbyn-supporting anti-Zionists.

Lansman’s constitution for Momentum bars from membership all those expelled by the Labour Party’s compliance unit. This rule that has been used exclusively against left-wingers. Lansman has since come out in support of keeping the rule (2.1.4.B) in Labour’s constitution.

He has also opposed our demands for the abolition of the Compliance Unit. We believe that all disciplinary matters should be dealt with by elected representatives.

Labour’s next general secretary should ensure the NEC immediately implements the recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedure made by the Shami Chakrabarti Report of June 30 2016.

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians people we think her election would send a powerful political signal. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt.

Steering Committee
Labour Against the Witchhunt

 

Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid

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Some of us are members of Momentum, some have never joined – and some of us left the organisation after January 2017, when its leader Jon Lansman abolished all democratic structures and imposed a new constitution, riding roughshod over the organisation’s members.

It should be noted that, as part of this coup, Lansman abolished the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands” to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of the organisation. Among the consequences of this was the breaking up of Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus. More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation, self-determination and autonomy of disadvantaged groups in society.

Wes Stressing MP: new friend of Jon Lansman’s

As a consequence of Lansman’s behaviour, Labour Against the Witchhunt believes he lacks the democratic credentials to become the kind of general secretary that the Labour Party now needs in order to heal the wounds inflicted by Iain McNicol’s divisiveness. As general secretary, McNicol was directly in charge of the discredited compliance unit and thereby responsible for the purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members. The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute. They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change. Continue Reading “Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid”

Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense”

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Filmmaker Ken Loach addressed spirited meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt in London on January 29

More than 70 people crammed into London’s Conway Hall last night (January 29) to discuss the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party and what can be done to stop it. Hundreds of left-wing and pro-Palestinian members remain expelled or suspended, for example on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism.
For videos from the event, click here.

Continue Reading “Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense””

LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC

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Around 40 supporters (and a few witches) showed up today, January 23, to help us lobby the Labour Party NEC to demand an end to the witch-hunt against left-wing and pro-Palestinian Labour members. Expelled and suspended members (amongst them Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein) spoke to NEC members and lots of press. Continue Reading “LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC”

Launched on October 21 2017, LAW is already celebrating a success

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Launched on October 21 2017, LAW is already celebrating a success – pressure from members, Branches and CLPs CLPs led to the reversal of the expulsion of emeritus professor Moshé Machover, one of a long line of socialists and Corbyn supporters expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-Semitism. He is now honorary president of Labour Against the Witchhunt.

The claim that anti-Semitism is rife in the Labour Party is untrue. It is a weapon the Right has consistently used against the Left. The ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witchhunt is used to block criticism of Israel’s settler-colonialism, its persecution of the Palestinians and its racist, apartheid practices. False anti-Semitism accusations are used to bolster support for Israel’s role in the Middle East. Israel receives more military aid from the USA than all the other countries in the world put together, over $4 billion a year. Continue Reading “Launched on October 21 2017, LAW is already celebrating a success”

“They can fuck off”. Report of LAW’s first ever fringe meeting at LP conference

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Alexei Sayle, Chris Williamson MP, Tony Mulhearn, Jo Bird, Tony Greenstein and others addressed Labour Against the Witchhunt’s fringe meeting last night (reproduced from Red Pages)

“There can be no greater injustice than anti-racists being accused of racism by racists.” Scouse comedian Alexie Sayle travelled up from London especially to deliver this common-sense condemnation of the fake anti-Semitism smear campaign against Corbyn and the Labour left to Labour Against the Witchhunt’s packed Labour conference fringe meeting last night. The potential for “massive transformation” opened up by “the miracle of Jeremy Corbyn” had overcome Alexei´s longstanding abstention from voting, but he had not (yet?) joined the party, to maintain his ‘independence’ as a comedian. The witch-hunters can’t expel a non-member, he said, “so they can fuck off!”

Jewish Voice for Labour’s Jo Bird, newly elected as a councillor in Birkenhead, pointed out that in her election campaign “no-one raised anti-Semitism on the door”. She was appalled at the way neighbouring MP Frank Field had used accusations of anti-Semitism and bullying. To all those falsely suspended and expelled she said: “You are owed a huge apology. On behalf of the party, I am very sorry.” That moving apology was made particularly poignant when 73-year-old Bob Walker, the youngest of the ‘Garston 3’, described how the three pensioners were expelled for merely attending a meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Ex-Liverpool councillor Tony Mulhearn called on Corbyn and McDonnell to stand up to the witch-hunters: “No more apologies, no more retreats. When you apologise, you are accepting you did something wrong.” Recalling the “ridiculously long list of charges” he faced in his own expulsion in 1986, “a witch-hunt is irrational”, he said, “because the decision has already been made”. At that time John McDonnell had stood firm in his defence, but now he is saying: “We need to be conciliatory; we are a broad church.” As Tony Greenstein commented, “Even the broadest church does not expel atheists. The ‘atheists’ in our party are not, and never have been, socialists.”

Chris Williamson MP, confronting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the party, confessed that he often describes Israel as an apartheid state, and compared Israel´s treatment of the Palestinians to the fate of the Cherokees in America. Denouncing the “terrible injustice” being done to Jackie Walker, he condemned the way Marc Wadsworth had been “demonised as a bigot” for “asking a question at a press conference”.

All in all, this first ever Labour fringe meeting organised by LAW was a tremendous success.


IMG-20180922-WA0015LAW has also been running a number of stalls in Liverpool and organised a successful emergency lobby of the NEC

Mark Serwotka: “we shouldn’t be frightened of calling it a racist state”

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Excellent contribution by PCS leader Mark Serwotka… article from The Independent

Labour antisemitism row was created by Israel to distract from ‘atrocities’, trade union boss suggests

PCS leader Mark Serwotka claims there is ‘something sinister going on’ behind ‘the most systematic attempt’ to shut down criticism of Israel

The leader of one of Britain’s main trade unions has suggested that Israel created the antisemitism row that has engulfed Labour over the summer.

Mark Serwotka, who leads the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and is a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, told a fringe event at the Trades Union Congress conference that the Jewish state could have “created a story that does not exist” in order to distract attention from “atrocities” he said it has committed.

His comments were condemned by antisemitism campaigners, who said Mr Serwotka should resign over the “despicable” claims.

The comments risk reigniting the row over claims of anti-Jewish abuse in Labour, which has died down in recent days after the party’s ruling executive bowed to pressure to adopt an internationally recognised definition of antisemitism.

Speaking at an event organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Mr Sertwoka said he “deplored” antisemitism but claimed accusations against Mr Corbyn were the result of “something sinister going on”.

He told the event in Manchester: “I think it is unfortunate that the Labour Party allowed a lot of this to drag on in a way that actually did not help anybody.”

“In a year when Donald Trump has moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a year when dozens of Palestinians including children were gunned down – unarmed innocent civilians – by the Israeli military, in a year when the Americans are cutting off aid … isn’t it a vile world when, instead of being on the front foot, denouncing these atrocities, demanding an independent and sovereign state for the Palestinian people, we have had a summer of asking ourselves whether leading Labour movement people are in any way antisemitic?”

He added: “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I’ll tell you what – one of the best forms of trying to hide from the atrocities that you are committing is to go on the offensive and actually create a story that does not exist for people on this platform, the trade union movement or, I have to say, for the leader of the Labour Party.”

Mr Corbyn has previously called Mr Serwotka his “friend”. The firebrand union leader was expelled by Labour in the 1990s for his membership of a left-wing group and banned from voting in the 2015 leadership contest because the party said he did not “share its aims and values”. He was allowed to rejoin after Mr Corbyn became leader.

Mr Serwotka told trade union members in Manchester there had been “the most systematic attempt to shut down all those advocating justice for the Palestinians in a way that should trouble all those who want to expose injustices”.

He added: “And we fast-forward to this year, and the dominating headline has not been the actions of the Israeli state; it is whether we as a movement have any form of antisemitism in our attitude to Palestinians.”

Euan Philipps, a spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “Mark Serwotka’s speech is a stark illustration of how deeply embedded antisemitism is within the Labour movement.

“To intimate that the Israeli government is somehow responsible for the antisemitism crisis that has torn across the Labour Party this summer is a baseless lie.

He added: “It callously dismisses the serious and legitimate concerns of the Jewish community, while also drawing on antisemitic tropes (including dual loyalty and conspiracy theory) to draw attention from what is a recognised issue of discrimination against Jews across the political left.

“The suggestion that there is a malevolent power manipulating British politics is as absurd as it is offensive.

“With this speech Mr Serwotka has brought the entire TUC into disrepute. It deserves widespread condemnation and we he should resign as general secretary of the PCS.”

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: “Mr Serwotka’s comments are despicable. There is a problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party because of antisemites and Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to deal with them, not because of Israel.

“For a general secretary of a major trade union to allude to conspiracy theories and blame Jews for their own persecution shows the extent of the problem we now see on the left.”

British Jews are leaving the country because of antisemitism, claims rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Mr Serwotka also used his speech to pay tribute to Hugh Lanning, a former PSC deputy general secretary who now works for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Speaking at the same event, Mr Lanning said Israel was a “racist state” and claimed the row over antisemitism in Labour had had a “chilling effect”.

He said: “It’s time to speak up and stand up for Palestine. And the situation Mark was describing, which has had this chilling effect across the whole trade union Labour movement.”

To loud applause, he added: “I take the view that if Israel wants to have racist laws, if it wants to have roads that only some people can go on, to have different laws and education systems based on race, we shouldn’t be frightened of calling it a racist state.”

“If it acts and behaves like an apartheid state, we should call it an apartheid state – and not be frightened of doing so.”

Mr Lanning said the row over antisemitism was “an opportunity” to focus people’s attention on Israel.

Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish state, he told trade union members: “We’ve got to shift the tipping point within the Labour and trade union movement – and you are the shock troops who are able to do this.

“One of the things that’s happened over the summer is that Palestine has been brought into the political agenda probably more than it has been for a long time.

“We can take that as an opportunity … so what the people who wanted to keep us quiet end up doing is making us shout very loudly.”

A PCS spokesperson said: “Mark spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign fringe event at the TUC – an organisation PCS is affiliated to.

“He made the point at the start of the meeting that we need to oppose antisemitism in society and within the labour movement.

“But we should not allow the issue of antisemitism to be used by people who are attempting to silence Palestinian voices as they legitimately struggle for their rights and a sovereign state.”

Labour declined to comment.

 

Excellent motion on IHRA, passed by branches in Kilburn and Hampstead CLP

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Conference notes that:

  • The IHRA is raised in the context of a campaign to demoralise and destroy the left, cut off solidarity with Palestine, provoke a Party split, and discredit Corbyn even comparing him to racist Tory Enoch Powell, slandering members as an “existential threat” to Jews;
  • The 4th September NEC refused Corbyn’s clause defending the right to criticise Israel.
  • Palestinian civil society and over 100 UK BAME groups condemned IHRA;
  • Israel was founded on the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians; its institutional racism was codified on 19 July 2018 by the Knesset’s Basic Law;
  • The Rule Book says, “The work of the Party shall be under the direction and control of Party conference”;

Conference believes that:

  • The implementation of IHRA will end free speech on Israel/Palestine, will not placate those hostile to Corbyn and the left, will not reduce antisemitism but undermine antiracism by prioritising one form of discrimination above all others, creating divisions among us;
  • Party members must be free to call Israel “a racist endeavour”;
  • This must be resolved by Conference.

Conference resolves to:

  • Call on the outgoing NEC to reverse its decision on IHRA and, in consultation with the Conference Arrangements Committee, to ensure time for delegates to resolve this matter on the Conference floor by vote;
  • Remove IHRA from the Code of Conduct regardless of NEC recommendations;
  • Promote free speech in the UK
  • Continue our solidarity with the Palestinian people by endorsing BDS and calling for a two-way arms embargo.

Labour disciplinary process: slightly reformed, but still as bad

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The wording of recent pre-disciplinary warning letters being sent to Labour Party members from Sophie Goodyear, “Head of Complaints” at Labour’s HQ in Southside, shows that the witch-hunt of socialists in the party continues unabated, albeit in a modified form – particularly against those who forthrightly challenge the racism inherent in Zionist ideology and Israel’s apartheid laws and practices.

Iain McNicol’s notorious “Complaints Unit” appears to have been replaced, under Jennie Formby and legal guru Gordon Nardell, by a “National Complaints Team” – but the stench of hypocrisy reminds us that a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

Healthy discussion of political issues is still being blocked by chilling complaints which are, all too often, taken seriously. Instead of debating the content of differences, the right make complaints about the manner of expression. Instead of stating their views openly in the press, on social media and in party meetings, the right make cowardly complaints to party officials.

The good news is that automatic exclusions, disciplinary action before due process, appears to have ended – one of the key demands of Labour Against the Witchhunt at its formation in October 2017. At least in some cases, suspension from membership is no longer the first resort of the party’s apparatchiks.

Suspension normally involves removal from all posts. This not only removes the rights of the suspended member, but also directly negates the democratic rights of the party members who elected them to those posts. It also involves a ban on attending party meetings, thereby removing the best form of education and re-education – discussion of a member’s issues with their peers, their comrades in their local branch and constituency party.

The previous “Head of Disputes”, Sam Matthews, used to suspend you on the basis of “serious allegations” which had not yet been investigated. Sophie Goodyear, while not suspending you, nevertheless finds you guilty (presumably using comrade Nardell’s prescribed nostrums), as displayed in this exquisite example of ‘safe spaces’ double-think:

“It has been brought to the attention of the National Complaints Team that you have posted offensive comments on your social media, copies of these are included in this letter. These comments have caused offence.

“The Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society and we appreciate that this does lead to discussions where those involved hold differing opinions. For a fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in a safe space and an atmosphere of respect. Abuse of any kind – whether direct attacks or pejorative language which may cause offence – is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our Party. Language that may be perceived as provocative, insensitive or offensive falls short of the standards expected of us as Party members.

“I am therefore writing to you to remind you that comments such as those below are not what we would expect from members of the party and ask that you refrain from making comments of this nature in future. Please be aware that any repeat of this conduct may lead to formal disciplinary action.”

Being found guilty without due processand threatened with future disciplinary action chills the heart of the accused, but leaves them none the wiser as to what exactly is deemed unacceptable in what they have said. Attaching copies of one’s “social media comments” still leaves one guessing, afraid and silenced.

What remedy is available to those who receive such a letter? I suggest:

(a) Publish the warning letter, for example by sending it to Labour Against the Witchhunt;

(b) Write a reply complaining of being found guilty without due process, asking who complained and precisely which words the complainant found unacceptable and why;

(c) Raise the issue in your party branch or constituency meeting.

Stan Keable
LAW Secretary

Say no to IHRA examples: LAW leaflet for NEC lobby on September 4

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You can download the leaflet here in PDF format.

Reject IHRA: The real target is Corbyn

At long last, the witch-hunt in the Labour Party has reached its long-intended, main target: Jeremy Corbyn. For the last three years, vastly exaggerated claims that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semites have been used to attack the left. But Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and hundreds of other Labour Party members were little more than collateral damage. 

This vicious campaign, orchestrated by the pro-Zionist lobby and the right in the party, never had anything to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn. His pro-Palestinian views and socialist policies make him unacceptable to both. 

That is why the NEC was wrong to adopt in its Code of Conduct, the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and most of the examples that have been published alongside it. The intent of this document is not to define Anti-Semitism – after all, the Oxford English Dictionary manages that in six words: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” No, its sole purpose is to conflate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism – even without the four examples that the Code has (so far) left out. 

Therefore we call on the NEC and Labour Party members to reject the whole IHRA working definition:

  • Most IHRA examples refer to Israel. In effect, the IHRA definition is labelling anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic. But Zionism is itself a cause of anti-Semitism today: Israel, by claiming to be a Jewish state, associates Jews everywhere with its crimes against the Palestinians.
     
  • The most disputed IHRA example would ban the description of Israel as a “racist” state. But racism is exactly what the Israeli government has now enshrined via its ‘Nation State’ law.
  • We must defend freedom of speech on Palestine. In their identical front pages, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraph and Jewish News admit that: “Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.”
  • Any attempts by the NEC to introduce so-called ‘safeguards’ are doomed to fail. Not only would they compete with the IHRA examples (which rule is more important?). Any assurance that past comments would not be investigated are also useless, because Jeremy Corbyn has already been declared an anti-Semite. 

There is still time to bring this witch-hunt to an end. But Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have to stand up to the enemies of the democratic Labour left:

  • They have to reject the whole IHRA working definition and clearly say that the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semites.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • We need mandatory reselection of all Labour Party MPs. The right wing saboteurs in the PLP have to go.
  • Momentum has be radically democratised – or abolished. Instead of defending Corbyn, Momentum owner Jon Lansman has sided with the witch-hunters. He has thrown Jackie Walker and Pete Willsman to the wolves and is now ready to abandon Corbyn, too. He wants the term ‘Zionism’ banned. He runs Momentum like a dictator, having abolished all democratic structures in his coup of January 10 2017.

But democracy and free speech are essential in the struggle to transform our party and society.

Geoffrey Robertson QC : IHRA definition “not fit for purpose”

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Press release by Palestinian Return Centre:

  • Geoffrey Robertson QC Opinion points out that many forms of anti-Semitism are not covered by IHRA definition including several influential forms that incite hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people generally 
  • Opinion criticises Government for adopting a non-binding and incomprehensible definition
  • Danger that definition will be used mistakenly to defame criticism of Israel
  • Parliamentary discussion should have been held before adoption and protections for free speech should have been recommended by Home Affairs committee
  • The government’s “adoption” of the definition has no legal effect and does not oblige public bodies to take notice of it.

31st August 2018

LONDON – The definition of antisemitism adopted by the government is not fit for the purpose of decision making, declares Geoffrey Robertson QC in an opinion published today. The opinion, which was produced to advise the Palestinian Return Centre, states that the definition does not cover the most insidious forms of hostility to Jewish people and the looseness of the definition is liable to chill legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel and coverage of human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Mr Robertson, an expert on freedom of speech and human rights, who has lectured on genocide at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has criticised Theresa May for adopting a definition which was not intended to be binding and which was not drafted as a comprehensible definition. By pivoting on expression that arouses hatred (a “very strong word”) it does not cover speech that arouses hostility, or which “politely spreads the poison of prejudice” against Jews as a race. He evinces surprise that Jewish organisations are advocating acceptance of the full definition by the Labour Party and other organisations have not realised that it fails to protect Jews from many prevalent kinds of antisemitism.

Mr Robertson examines all eleven “examples” attached to the definition and concludes that several of them are so loosely drafted that they are likely to chill criticism of action by the Government of Israel and advocacy of sanctions as a means to deter human rights abuses in Gaza and elsewhere. He says there is a particular danger that the definition will be used mistakenly, to defame criticisms of Israel by branding them as anti-Semitic.

Mr Robertson is particularly critical of the Government for “adopting” the definition without Parliamentary discussion and without the protection for free speech recommended by the Home Affairs Committee. Should any University or local council apply it, he says they should follow the Home Affairs Committee recommendation and add to it the clarification that “it is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Government of Israel without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.” He adds that this should be added by any public bodies or organisations that adopt the full definition endorsed by the government.

Mr Robertson continues that “a particular problem with the IHRA definition is that it is likely in practice to chill free speech, by raising expectations of pro-Israeli groups that they can successfully object to legitimate criticism of Israel and correspondingly arouse fears in NGO’s and student bodies that they will have events banned, or else will have to incur considerable expense to protect them by taking legal action. Either way, they may not organise such events.”

The opinion concludes that whether under human rights law or the IHRA definition, political action against Israel is not properly characterised as anti-Semitic unless the action is intended to promote hatred or hostility against Jews in general.

Full legal opinion here.