Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed?

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We reproduce below an article about Sheffield Labour Party member Lee Rock, who is being investigated by Labour’s compliance unit for what might well be the most ridiculous charge we have yet come across. This investigation needs to be shut down – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint. The article first appeared on Labour Party Marxists’ website.

 

The witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party has become even more absurd, reports Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

All those who thought the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party had reached its limits can think again. The recent arrival of leftwing general secretary Jennie Formby and in-house QC Gordon Nardell (a founding member of the Labour Representation Committee) are clearly no protection, when it comes to the party apparatus taking absolutely ludicrous decisions.

On Monday July 16, long-standing trade union activist and socialist Lee Rock received notice from the Labour Party’s “acting head of disputes”, Nareser Osei, that, “Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Labour Party.”

Considering the current climate in the Labour Party and considering comrade Rock’s political biography, we would have expected that he was being accused of the now very popular charge of anti-Semitism (he is an ardent supporter of the rights of Palestinians).

Or maybe his “association with other groups” could have been misrepresented. For example, in 2002 and 2003 he stood as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance. He has even been interviewed by the Weekly Workera couple of times.

But no. The allegations against comrade Rock are of a more, shall we say, delicate nature. We read that 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”.

Yes, you read that correctly. That is the sole and only charge raised against comrade Rock. He has not (yet) been suspended or expelled, but is being warned that the allegations are currently being investigated.

This clearly needs a bit of background explanation. In 2015, a certain Simon Danczuk MP was caught out when his phone had tagged a hard-core porn site on Twitter as a “favourite”, and he openly had to admit that he watches porn (like a large number of other men and women). However, much of the media feigned outrage.

Owen Jones, then still almost relevant, wrote a decent article, in which he asked, “Why should we care?” He pointed out that we are all “flawed human beings”, that politicians are “not perfect” and that we should instead focus on and criticise Danczuk’s rightwing politics. Quite right.

However, this article really upset some so-called radical feminists (now going under the label, Terfs – trans-exclusionary radical feminists). The “maternal feminist” group, All Mothers Work, published an article attacking Owen Jones’ description of Danczuk’s behaviour as “normal”. It described people who access porn at work as “unstable perverts who are so incapable of caring about basic social decency and the rights of others that they should be removed from society to protect the rest of us (women)”.

You get the drift. Something that more than 30% of the population admit to doing regularly at the workplace was presented as being a rather freaky habit (another questionnaire even put it at 39%). According to the first poll, rubbing the one-eyed snake at work is in fact more “normal” than people falling asleep at their desk (29%) or arriving late at work at least once a week (16%).

Somebody posted the article in a Facebook group and comrade Rock and others argued against the narrow-minded politics of it. The result was a long debate with over 150 comments – some funny, some deadly serious – which still “occasionally does the rounds on Facebook, where it is widely hailed as the most ridiculous leftwing debate ever”, as a comrade reliably informs us. The debate even produced its own satirical blog post.

We will spare readers the detailed ins and outs of people arguing over how and where you should be allowed to masturbate. They can read the whole exchange on Facebook, where it is still online. For comrades not on Facebook, the exchange is also available on the Labour Party Marxists website.

This comment sums up comrade’s Lee various interventions in the debate: “If the person next to me at work goes to the loo, I really don’t care if they have a shit or a wank.” Seems a reasonable view to take. But, of course, comrade Rock did not positively “argue in favourof masturbating in workplaces”, as Ms Osei claims in her letter.

Morality police?

Comrade Rock, however, did argue for the right of people – including the vile Simon Danczuk – to do whatever they wish in the privacy of their toilet cubicle. As long as it does not harm or inconvenience anybody else, there really should not be a problem.

But the point is a serious one: he is under investigation not for committingany kind of offence, but for arguing that what one does in the privacy of a toilet cubicle at workshould not be viewed as a criminal offence– especially not one that would lead to the ‘perpetrator’ being “removed from society”, as the terfs’ article hysterically demanded.

That the feminist morality guardians would disagree with this outlook does not come as a shock, of course. But that the Labour Party should launch an investigation over this issue is simply mind-boggling.

We note that masturbating at work is, of course, not illegal. It mightbe a sackable offence, but only if (a) you have been caught in the act (lock the door, perhaps?) and (b) your employer thinks you’ve broken one of their rules – for example, by taking too much time away from your work or having contravened a particular health and safety regulation.

You might have trouble fighting a claim for unfair dismissal if that happens, but then, unless you’ve done something crassly indecent, there would be plenty of mitigating circumstances: stress levels at work, family risk of prostate cancer (which, according to medical advice, can be reduced by masturbating a few times a day), etc, etc. Some psychologists and doctors even argue that employees should be positively encouraged to engage in auto-eroticism at work, as it can be a very effective form of stress-relief that also increases production levels.

Comrade Rock was not even a member of the Labour Party when this online discussion took place, by the way. Like tens of thousands of others, he only joined Labour in July 2016, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn in the face of yet another coup attempt. In other words, his comments were written 15 months before he even joined. Has the compliance unit not managed to look that up before launching an investigation?

On one level, it is difficult to take this case seriously. It would be laughed out of court by any worthwhile judge. But we would be foolish to believe that it will simply be dismissed. Yes, Jennie Formby and Gordon Nardell are way to the left of that rightwing backstabber, Iain McNicol, and his various minions, who have left party HQ in recent months. But the witch-hunt is far from over. Unfortunately, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies are still trying to appease the right, despite all the evidence showing that it does not work (Margaret Hodge’s much-publicised rant at Corbyn for being a “fucking anti-Semite and racist” on July 16 being a case in point).

So we read in the letter to comrade Rock that “the general secretary has appointed Charlotte Walker, investigating officer, to arrange conduct of the party’s own investigation”. We cannot be sure if Jennie Formby has actually read the whole thread on Facebook. If she has, then shame on her for wasting members’ money on launching this nonsense investigation. If she has not read it, then shame on her for not putting more effort into preventing such ludicrous allegations from going forward. Of course, not all allegations made to the compliance unit are followed up by an investigation. Some are dismissed at an early stage, as this one should have been. We hope that Formby, Nardell or one of the other people at Labour HQ will see some common sense soon.

Comrade Rock is, of course, only the latest case in a long list of leftwing activists targeted by the Labour right. Somebody must have put in a considerable amount of time and effort to find this particular online thread, having to read all of Lee’s posts from the last three years. If the Labour Party disciplinary process was governed by any kind of natural justice or due process, comrade Rock would have to be told who his accuser is. Despite the new brooms at Labour HQ, there is little chance of that happening.

Left target

Why then have they got it in for comrade Rock? He has played an important role in organising the left across Sheffield and has made plenty of enemies in the process. Together with former Labour NEC member, Unite’s Martin Mayer, he has set up Sheffield Labour Left List, which organises the left across all six local Constituency Labour Parties (this has become even more important since Momentum Sheffield has been taken over by the pro-Lansman right). He was also a key figure campaigning for Jared O’Mara, the first Labour MP ever elected in Sheffield Hallam, transforming the local CLP in the process, which is now firmly in the hands of the left. More recently, he helped to stop the planned transformation of the district Labour Party into a mere cheerleading club for local councillors.

Now that Jared O’Mara has resigned from the party, potential candidates from the left and right are falling over each other to replace him as parliamentary candidate, with numerous rightwingers joining Momentum to look like they are pro-Corbyn (ironically O’Mara was also subject to discipline for inappropriate comments made on social media more than a decade ago, when he was in his early 20s). Maybe somebody, somewhere feared that comrade Rock might throw his hat in the ring – at least among local leftwing Labour Party members, he would be a popular choice. This move against him – especially considering the nature of the accusations – will at least make it more difficult for him to be chosen as a candidate for parliamentary or local elections.

This is happening all over the country, of course. Empty accusations of bullying and harassment are launched just in time to stop somebody becoming a candidate or to prevent members from voting at a crucial meeting. It is old-style machine politics, but it works. For the individual concerned, however, it is, of course, deeply unpleasant and often traumatising, with their personal reputation publicly tarnished or even destroyed. They might be cleared afterwards, but suspicions about their character often remain.

We presume that Lee’s accuser is hoping for the charge to be raised a step higher: ie, that the national executive committee will find that he has “brought the party into disrepute”, so that he can be expelled. This is how the right got rid of Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth, after all – it is a beautiful catch-all phrase that can cover pretty much anything, as and when needed. Comrade Rock could be another notch in the belt of the witch-hunters – another case that proves how horrible and disgusting Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters really are.

Nevertheless, comrade Lee has been told that he not suspended from membership. A change from the past and maybe a sign that Formby and Nardell are reforming the disciplinary process. It is, of course, to be welcome that comrade Rock – unlike hundreds of other members falsely accused – has not been automatically suspended and is able to participate in all party activities. However, this small step forward is almost entirely cancelled out by the very fact that there is an investigation. It clearly needs to be shut down, now – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint.

Reinstate Stan Keable!

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Around 30 people attended LAW’s lobby of  Hammersmith and City council’s meeting on July 16. Stan was sacked from his job at the council for saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact. He said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square. This had nothing to do with work. Stan was participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour counter-demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the right-wing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration. The conversation was secretly filmed by the BBC’s David Grossman, who put a 105-second video clip online.

This dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. We fear that Stan’s dismissal could be the first of many political sackings.

More details on Stan’s case are available here and a model motion is here. As his union is refusing to support him, Stan will have to pay for legal advice himself, which is why we ask you to support his crowdfunding campaign. 

 

 

Marianne Tellier – suspended for an anti-DWP image

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Work sets you free – this is the image that Marianne Tellier shared online and which got her suspended.

LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein has written the following article about the disgraceful decision to suspend Marianne from Labour Party membership:

https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/07/sam-matthews-labours-witch-finder.html?m=0

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”

Brent Trade Union Council supports Stan Keable

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To: Councillor Stephen Cowan
Leader of the Council
Hammersmith and Fulham Council Labour Group
Room 207
Hammersmith Town Hall
King Street
London
W6 9JU
Dear Brother Stephen Cowan,
Brent Trade Union Council passed the motion below at its meeting on 27 June and this is the letter we resolved to send to you and the Labour Group urging the reinstatement of Stam Keable.
You have sacked Stan for stating in a private discussion that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well-documented historical fact.
On 26 March the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council organised a demonstration in Parliament Square to protest against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Stan was part of a counter-demonstration organised by Jewish Voice for Labour and others. As Stan went around handing out leaflets, he got into a conversation about the Holocaust with a Zionist and explained that it was not only caused by anti-Semitism (it is obvious that this is correct – it began with the extermination of the disabled, for instance). Stan also explained that Zionism held the view that Jews did not belong in the countries of their birth and because of that the Zionist movement had collaborated with the Nazis, who also wanted them out of Germany.
BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman secretly recorded the conversation and the result of this was that the quite innocuous conversation was headlines in papers like The Evening Standardand Jewish Chronicleand the Daily Mail. The next day local Tory MP Greg Hands sent out a tweet demanding action against Stan and he followed this up with a letter to Steve Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Stan’s employer, demanding action.
David Ben-Gurion, the most prominent founder of the state of Israel and its first Prime Minister, famously said in a speech to Mapai’s central committee on December 9, 1938:
“If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the people of Israel.”
On August 10, 1933 the German Zionist Federation and the Palestinian Jewish Agency signed an economic trade agreement, Ha’avara, with the Nazi state, that helped destroy the Jewish-led international boycott of Nazi Germany.
The allegation contained in Hammersmith and Fulham’s disciplinary investigation was that Stan had breached the Equality Act 2010. It is difficult to believe that trained ‘human resources’ professionals lawyers could come to such a conclusion with legal advice. The suggestion that debating an issue such as Zionism is a breach of the Equality Act is wrong. The introduction to the act is quite clear. Its purpose is:
“to reform and harmonise equality law … to prohibit victimisation in certain circumstances; to require the exercise of certain functions to be with regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and other prohibited conduct … to increase equality of opportunity; to amend the law relating to rights and responsibilities in family relationships; and for connected purposes.”
There is nothing in the act about restricting freedom of speech or disciplining people who have views which are unpopular with Britain’s right wing mass media. The key paragraph in the charges against Stan stated:
“The question as to whether or not Stan Keable’s comments breach the Equalities Act may hinge on an interpretation of what constitutes ‘belief’ under the terms of the act … One of these [protected] characteristics is “religion and belief”. Zionism is not a religion, although it is closely related to Judaism, but it is a belief in the right of the Jewish people to have a nation-state in the ‘Holy Land’, their original homeland. Legal advice, obtained as part of this investigation, states that case law has established that the definition of belief can extend to political beliefs. If Zionism constitutes a ‘belief’ under the terms of the Equality Act then the statements by Stan Keable that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis and that it accepted that “Jews are not acceptable here” might be deemed to have breached the Equality Act.”
It is nonsense to claim Israel/Palestine is the “original homeland”, back to 135 AD with the crushing of the Bar Kokhba revolt by the Romans when Judea lost its name?  Zionism may be a philosophical belief under section 10 of the Equality Act. But then so is anti-Zionism. However, it is not the protected characteristics of those Stan was arguing with which are relevant, but those of Stan! Stan is not their employer! Just because someone might be classified as having a protected characteristic in certain situations – mainly employment – does not mean that if you disagree with, for example, a gay person you are therefore guilty of discrimination!
‘Protected characteristics’ are not a free-floating cause of action: they are tied to specific acts, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The definition of direct discrimination (section 13.1) says: “(i) A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.”
It should be obvious to anyone – though clearly not to those leading Hammersmith and Fulham’s investigation – that debating a topic in a public space does not infringe his adversaries’ protected characteristics. Put bluntly, debate is not discrimination. No-one is being discriminated against when it is stated that the Nazis and Zionists collaborated. Neither was Stan in any contractual or employment relationship with his adversaries.
However, in suspending and seeking to dismiss Stan, the council is almost certainly breaching the Equality Act, because it is Stan whom they are discriminating against on the grounds of his belief. The failure to understand this simple but obvious point is quite staggering.
The council’s investigation report (paragraph 5.6) stated:
“in attending the counter-demonstration at Westminster on March 26 and in making the comments that subsequently appeared on social media, Mr Keable has failed to avoid any conduct outside of work which may discredit himself and the council.”
In other words, Stan’s offence was, in part at least, attending a demonstration! Under ‘recommendations’ (paragraph 7.1) we get:
“That, in attending a counter- demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on March 26, 2018, Stan Keable knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about his views and subsequently proceeded to express views that were in breach of the council’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy and the council’s code of conduct (‘Working with integrity’ and ‘Working with the media’).”
This is an outrageous infringement of Stan’s civil liberties in attending a demonstration. Stan “knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about his views …”! Stan’s sacking means a mere attendance at a demonstration will be a potential breach of one’s employment contract.
Article 10, ‘Freedom of expression’, states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
Article 11, ‘Freedom of assembly and association’, begins: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” Closely allied to these is article 9 on ‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion’.
There is little doubt that Stan will win his legal, because not even the most conformist and timid tribunal will accept that attending a demonstration and airing one’s views in public constitute a breach of the Equality Act or one’s contract. H&H Labour Council should now call a halt to these proceedings by reinstating Stan Keable.
Yours Roger Cox – Sec Brent Trade Union Council

 


 

Dear Comrades,

Brent Trade Union Council passed the following motion nem. con. at its meeting on 27 June 2018. We agreed to donate £25.00 to Stan’s legal defence fund and to affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt at £25. RMT BTUC delegate Carol Foster was agreed as the BTUC delegate to LAW.

Gerry Downing, Assistant Secretary BTUC

This branch notes with great concern:

  1. the dismissal of Stan Keable by Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Council on 21 April 2018 after 17 years’ service. He was dismissed for allegedly bringing the Council into disrepute by saying, at a demonstration in Parliament Square called by Jewish Voices for Labour, that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi Party. This was said on 26 March 2018 in a private conversation out of work hours and had no connection with work at all. The conversation was secretly filmed by the BBC reporter David Grossman, who put a 105 second video clip online.
  2. That the Council justified the dismissal by alleging that by attending the JVL demonstration he ‘knowingly increased the possibility of expressing views that were in breach of the Council diversity and inclusion policy’.
  3. This is an attack on the right of this Councils employees to attend demonstrations in a democratic society. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are rights guaranteed in the European Convention of Human Rights.
  4. This dismissal opens up the possibility of more sackings based on political opinion.

We resolve to:

  1. Call on Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Council to reinstate Stan Keable.
  2. Donate to Stan’s defence campaign.
  3. Affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt.
  4. Write Unison’s London regional organiser, Steve Terry, to enquire why Unison had not supported Stan in his disciplinary case.
  5. Support the Reinstate Stan Keable! LAW lobby of Hammersmith & Fulham Council meeting on 16 July 17:00 – 19:15 at Hammersmith Town Hall.

 

Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.

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This Kafkaesque account of his suspension has been published by Ben Timberley on Facebook – we republish it here for all those who are not on FB and to allow easy access. 

BEN TIMBERLEY·WEDNESDAY, 27 JUNE 2018

As you’ll see in the story below, suspended or expelled Labour party members face a gruelling task to prove their innocence or to provide a justifiable context to their alleged ‘crimes’. It is considered ‘normal’ by right-wing party staff and elected officials for party members to be smeared with the label of ‘suspension’ or ‘expulsion’ with all of the social stigma that these labels carry.

Continue Reading “Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.”

Call for video testimonies!

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LAW is asking comrades who have been victims of the Labour witch-hunt to tell us about their experiences in short video clips: this can help to humanise those suffering from the witch-hunt, show how ridiculous many of the charges are, but will also go some way in helping victimised comrades to overcome their political isolation and collectivise their experience.
 
We want to hear from ALL pro-Corbyn victims of the witch-hunt: not just those on charges of anti-Semitism, but also those victimised by the right for ‘bullying’ and those expelled for their association with other organisations etc.
 
Here are some pointers on how to do it:
 
* We don’t have the capacity to film everybody properly, so we would ask you to film yourself or get a friend or another LAW supporter to do it. Mobile phone quality is perfectly sufficient
* Ideally, the clips should be about 3-4 minutes long, and no longer than 5 minutes
* If you want to stay anonymous, please ask somebody to film you from the back or in a dark room
 
Some pointers for the content:
1. Please state your name and branch/CLP – if you want. It’s perfectly fine to leave out either or both.
2. Describe what you have been suspended for – and when.
3. Describe the process: low points, high points, did you appeal, resign etc.
4. Describe the outcome, if known yet.
5. Describe the reactions of others – supportive, dismissive etc.
6. Describe your feelings: anger, depression, etc.?
 
Files of up to 2GB in size can be uploaded to www.wetransfer.com – please send us an email with the link to your file. We have a LAW Youtube channel where we can upload the clips.

Mr. Lansman comes to Tel Aviv

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“Jeremy Corbyn’s senior ally wants to restrict free speech on Israel” – interesting article on Mondoweiss:

http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/lansman-corbyns-restrict/

Eminent Jewish figures condemn attempts to silence criticism of Israel

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https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/clarity-not-conflation/

JVL introduction

A media statement from eminent Jewish figures says clarity about what antisemitism is, and what it is not, is essential to effectively combatting age-old prejudices against Jews. Their statement draws on work towards a definition of antisemitism intended to benefit government, political parties, public bodies and NGOs by avoiding the dangers inherent in conflating antisemitism with criticism of Israel.


EMINENT JEWISH FIGURES CONDEMN ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE CRITICISM OF ISRAEL

  • Statement from high profile Jewish figures reflects public concern about conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel

  • Signatories call for clarity in opposing antisemitism in all its forms while protecting the right to address unjust laws and policies of the State of Israel.

  • Moves to assist public bodies, by clarifying what antisemitism is and what it is not, follow Liberty AGM warning of threat to freedom of expression.

June 19, 2018 – A statement from 27 senior Jewish academic and cultural figures says clarity about what antisemitism is, and what it is not, is essential to effectively combatting age-old prejudices against Jews.

The signatories include eminent barrister Sir Geoffrey Bindman, film makers Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, writers Gillian Slovo, Michael Rosen and Susie Orbach, four Fellows of the Royal Society and more than a dozen other leading academics.

They say: “Holocaust denial, the blood libel, conspiracy theories about supposed Jewish power or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide – all are expressions of antisemitism… Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic unless motivated by anti-Jewish prejudice.”

The statement comes at a time when there is controversy about attempts to prevent criticism of Israel by promoting the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) “Working Definition of Antisemitism“. This was adopted by the UK government in December 2016 along with a set of guidance notes focused on Israel, and widely promoted as a tool for opposing hostility towards Jews.

However, the IHRA definition has been condemned for undermining the freedom to criticise Israel for its displacement of Palestinians and its denial of their rights. A legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC described the document as “unclear and confusing” and having “no legal status or effect.”

Retired Appeal Court judge Sir Stephen Sedley has called it “a protean definition of antisemitism which is open to manipulation and capture”. It has been cited in many cases where public authorities, including universities, have refused to host speakers, cancelled room bookings and called off academic conferences.

Concerns about freedom of speech prompted Liberty, the leading civil liberties organisation in the UK, to pass a resolution condemning the IHRA definition at its Annual General Meeting on May 19. It warned public bodies not to adopt it, because its conflation between antisemitism and criticism of Israel blurred “the previously clear understanding of the nature of antisemitism,” risked “undermining the defences against it” and threatened freedom of expression.

Jewish activists are consulting with leading experts in the field to produce a new definition of antisemitism, designed to avoid these problematic issues for the benefit of government, political parties, NGOs and other public bodies.  This work has contributed to the statement published in the Guardian on June 15 (see full text and signatories below).

It is endorsed by Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Socialists’ Group and Jewish Voice for Labour.

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

1. The statement

There are disturbing signs round the world that age-old prejudices against Jews are reviving once more. We need to be clear in recognising them, and resolute in dealing with them. A precondition for fighting antisemitism effectively is clarity about what it is, and what it is not.

Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice or hostility against us because we are Jews. It is a form of racism. It may be manifested in violence, denial of rights, discriminatory acts, prejudice-based behaviour, verbal or written statements, negative stereotypes or scapegoating.

Holocaust denial, the blood libel, conspiracy theories about supposed Jewish power or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide – all are expressions of antisemitism.

Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic unless motivated by anti-Jewish prejudice. Examples of this can include:

  • Holding all Jews accountable for the actions of the State of Israel

  • Engaging in conspiracy theories about the State of Israel, that draw upon antisemitic stereotypes about supposed Jewish power.

  • Accusing all Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nations.

Criticism of Israel, of its displacement of Palestinians and of its denial of their rights, is not antisemitic

Criticising laws and policies of the State of Israel as racist and as falling under the definition of apartheid is not antisemitic.

Calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel to oppose those policies is not antisemitic.

We call upon all public bodies and other organisations to apply these principles in addressing antisemitism within their own organisations and when challenging it within wider society.

 

2. The signatories

Sir Geoffrey Bindman

Ben Birnberg

Professor D.B.A. Epstein, FRS

Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Professor Harvey Goldstein

Dr Brian Klug

Peter Kosminsky

Mike Leigh

Professor Malcolm Levitt FRS

Professor Moshe Machover

Miriam Margolyes MBE

Susie Orbach

Professor Laurence Pearl FRS

Professor Jacqueline Rose FBA

Professor Steven Rose

Professor Michael Rosen

Professor Douglas Ross FRS

Professor Andrew Samuels

Professor Donald Sassoon

Alexei Sayle

Justin Schlosberg

Professor Lynne Segal

Professor Avi Shlaim

Gillian Slovo

Professor Annabelle Sreberny

Professor John S. Yudkin

Professor Nira Yuval-Davis

 

3. The Liberty resolution

This AGM reiterates:

its abhorrence of antisemitism as a repellent undercurrent which persists across the social and political spectrum; and Liberty’s support for effective measures to combat antisemitism and all other forms of racism;

notes:

the legal Opinion of Hugh Tomlinson QC which states that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘Working Definition of Antisemitism’, adopted by the UK government in December 2016, is “unclear and confusing” and “has no legal status or effect”; and that the overriding legal duty of public authorities is to preserve freedom of expression; that the guidance that is attached to the definition conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism, that the definition is being interpreted as saying that to describe Israel as a state practising apartheid, or to call for Boycott or Sanctions to be applied in defence of Palestinian rights, is an inherently antisemitic act that should be prohibited; that the definition is being cited in attempts to deter, obstruct or prevent events that are critical of Israel, or support the legitimate rights of Palestinians;

resolves:

that by blurring the previously clear understanding of the nature of antisemitism, the IHRA definition risks undermining the defences against it; and that the definition’s conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and legitimate defence of the rights of Palestinians is a threat to freedom of expression. It regrets that some local authorities have already adopted it, calls on those that have done so to apply it with extreme caution, and calls on other public bodies not to adopt the definition

 

ENDS