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

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!”

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. 

Draft contemporary motion on the IHRA definition on Antisemitism

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This draft motion has been written with the Labour Party conference in mind, but of course you can use it in any other context.

  • Contemporary motions to Labour Party conference need to deal with issues that have arisen only recently and cannot be longer than 250 words.
  • They do not have to be submitted to a branch first, but please submit it asap to your CLP secretary. CLPs can either submit a contemporary motion or a rule change motion to conference.
  • CLPs need to submit their motion to the Conference Arrangements Committee by  September 13.

1. We note:

1.1. That recently there has been mounting pressure on the Labour Party to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working document on Antisemitism. This consists of a 38 word definition and eleven illustrative examples. The definition and seven of the examples have been adopted by the NEC.

1.2 Professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism, calls the document “bewilderingly imprecise”. Appeals court judge Stephen Sedley believes that the document would place “Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestine beyond permissible criticism”. Hugh Tomlinson QC warns that it has “a chilling effect on freedom of speech”.

1.3. That one of the four particularly disputed examples would ban the description of Israel as a “racist” state.

2. We believe:

2.1. That freedom of speech on the question of Palestine and Israel is of utmost importance.

2.2. Adopting the full IHRA document would conflate criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism.

2.3. Adopting the full IHRA document could lead to the expulsion of thousands of Labour Party members, for example those who criticise as racist the adoption of the new Israeli ‘Nation-State’ law.

2.3. That the campaign to adopt the full IHRA document is driven by forces who are hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and want to get rid of him.

3. We resolve:

3.1. To reject the full IHRA document.

 

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:

 

Must read: Jonathan Cook on why the Labour Party should not adopt the full IHRA definition

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first published on Truepublica
The Labour party, relentlessly battered by an organised campaign of smears of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn – first for being anti-semitic, and now for honouring Palestinian terrorists – is reportedly about to adopt the four additional working “examples” of anti-semitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Labour initially rejected these examples – stoking yet more condemnation from Israel’s lobbyists and the British corporate media – because it justifiably feared, as have prominent legal experts, that accepting them would severely curb the freedom to criticise Israel.

The media’s ever-more outlandish slurs against Corbyn and the Labour party’s imminent capitulation on the IHRA’s full definition of anti-semitism are not unrelated events. The former was designed to bring about the latter.

According to a report in the Guardian this week, senior party figures are agitating for the rapid adoption of the full IHRA definition, ideally before the party conference next month, and say Corbyn has effectively surrendered to the pressure. An MP who supports Corbyn told the paper Corbyn would “just have to take one for the team”.

In a strong indication of the way the wind is now blowing, the Guardian added:

The party said it would consult the main [Jewish] communal bodies as well as experts and academics, but groups such as the pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice for Labour have not been asked to give their views.

No stomach for battle

The full adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism will be a major victory both for Israel and its apologists in Britain, who have been seeking to silence all meaningful criticism of Israel, and for the British corporate media, which would dearly love to see the back of an old-school socialist Labour leader whose programme threatens to loosen the 40-year stranglehold of neoliberalism on British society.

Besieged for four years, Corbyn’s allies in the Labour leadership have largely lost the stomach for battle, one that was never about substance or policy but about character assassination.

As the stakes have been constantly upped by the media and the Blairite holdouts in the party bureacracy, the inevitable has happened. Corbyn has been abandoned. Few respected politicians with career ambitions or a public profile want to risk being cast out into the wilderness, like Ken Livingstone, as an anti-semite.

This is why the supposed anti-semitism “crisis” in a Corbyn-led Labour party has been so much more effective than berating him for his clothes or his patriotism. Natural selection – survival of the smear fittest for the job – meant that a weaponised anti-semitism would eventually select Corbyn as its prime target and not just his supporters – especially after his unexpected strong showing at the polls in last year’s election.

Worse, Corbyn himself has conceded too much ground on anti-semitism. As a lifelong anti-racism campaigner, the accusations of anti-semitism have clearly pained him. He has tried to placate rather than defy the smearers. He has tried to maintain unity with people who have no interest in finding common ground with him.

And as he has lost all sense of how to respond in good faith to allegations made in bad faith, he has begun committing the cardinal sin of sounding and looking evasive – just as those who deployed the anti-semitism charge hoped. It was his honesty, plain-speaking and compassion that won him the leadership and the love of ordinary members. Unless he can regain the political and spiritual confidence that underpinned those qualities, he risks haemorrhaging support.

Critical juncture

But beyond Corbyn’s personal fate, the Labour party has now reached a critical juncture in its response to the smear campaign. In adopting the full IHRA definition, the party will jettison the principle of free speech and curtail critical debate about an entire country, Israel – as well as a key foreign policy issue for those concerned about the direction the Middle East is taking.

Discussion of what kind of state Israel is, what its policy goals are, and whether they are compatible with a peace process are about to be taken off the table by Britain’s largest, supposedly progressive party.

That thought spurred me to cast an eye over my back-catalogue of journalism. I have now been based in Nazareth, in Israel’s Galilee, since 2001. In that time I have written – according to my website – more than 900 articles (plus another few hundred blog posts) on Israel, as well as three peer-reviewed books and a clutch of chapters in edited collections. That’s a lot of writing. Many more than a million words about Israel over nearly two decades.

What shocked me, however, as I started to pore over these articles was that almost all of them – except for a handful dealing with internal Palestinian politics – would fall foul of at least one of these four additional IHRA examples Labour is about to adopt.

After 17 years of writing about Israel, after winning a respected journalism prize for being “one of the reliable truth-tellers in the Middle East”, the Labour party is about to declare that I, and many others like me, are irredeemable anti-semites.

Not that I am unused to such slurs. I am intimately familiar with a community of online stalkers who happily throw around the insults “Nazi” and “anti-semite” at anyone who doesn’t cheerlead the settlements of the Greater Israel project. But far more troubling is that this will be my designation not by bullying Israel partisans but by the official party of the British left.

Of course, I will not be alone. Much of my journalism has been about documenting and reporting the careful work of scholars, human rights groups, lawyers and civil society organisations – Palestinian, Israeli and international alike – that have charted the structural racism in Israel’s legal and administrative system, explaining often in exasperating detail its ethnocractic character and its apartheid policies. All of us are going to be effectively cast out, denied any chance to inform or contribute to the debates and policies of Britain’s only leftwing party with a credible shot at power.

That is a shocking realisation. The Labour party is about to slam the door shut in the faces of the Palestinian people, as well as progressive Jews and others who stand in solidarity with them.

Betrayal of Palestinians

The article in the Guardian, the newspaper that has done more to damage Corbyn than any other (by undermining him from within his own camp), described the incorporation of the full IHRA anti-semitism definition into Labour’s code of conduct as a “compromise”, as though the betrayal of an oppressed people was something over which middle ground could be found.

Remember that the man who drafted the IHRA definition and its associated examples, American Jewish lawyer Kenneth Stern, has publicly regretted their impact, saying that in practice they have severely curbed freedom of speech about Israel.

How these new examples will be misused by Corbyn’s opponents should already be clear. He made his most egregious mistake in the handling of the party’s supposed anti-semitism “crisis” precisely to avoid getting caught up in a violation of one of the IHRA examples Labour is about to adopt: comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.

He apologised for attending an anti-racism event and distanced himself from a friend, the late Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor and defender of Palestinian rights, who used his speech to compare Israel’s current treatment of Palestinians to early Nazi laws that vilified and oppressed Jews.

It was a Judas-like act for which it is not necessary to berate Corbyn. He is doubtless already torturing himself over what he did. But that is the point: the adoption of the full IHRA definition will demand the constant vilification and rooting out of progressive and humane voices like Meyer’s. It will turn the Labour party into the modern equivalent of Senator Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. Labour activists will find themselves, like Corbyn, either outed or required to out others as supposed anti-semites. They will have to denounce reasonable criticisms of Israel and dissociate themselves from supporters of the Palestinian cause, even Holocaust survivors.

The patent absurdity of Labour including this new anti-semitism “example” should be obvious the moment we consider that it will recast not only Meyer and other Holocaust survivors as anti-semites but leading Jewish intellectuals and scholars – even Israeli army generals.

Two years ago Yair Golan, the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, went public with such a comparison. Addressing an audience in Israel on Holocaust Day, he spoke of where Israel was heading:

“If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016.”

Is it not a paradox that, were Golan a member of the Labour party, that statement – a rare moment of self-reflection by a senior Israeli figure – will soon justify his being vilified and hounded out of the Labour party?

Evidence of Israeli apartheid

Looking at my own work, it is clear that almost all of it falls foul of two further “examples” of anti-semitism cited in the full IHRA definition that Labour is preparing to adopt:

Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

and:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

One hardly needs to point out how preposterous it is that the Labour party is about to outlaw from internal discussion or review any research, scholarship or journalism that violates these two “examples” weeks after Israel passed its Nation-State Basic Law. That law, which has constitutional weight, makes explict what was always implict in Israel as a Jewish state:

1. that Israel privileges the rights and status of Jews around the world, including those who have never even visited Israel, above the rights of the fifth of the country’s citizens who are non-Jews (the remnants of the native Palestinian population who survived the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948).

2. that Israel, as defined in the Basic Law, is not a state bounded by internationally recognised borders but rather the “Land of Israel” – a Biblical conception of Israel whose borders encompass the occupied Palestinian territories and parts of many neighbouring states.

How, one might reasonably wonder, is such a state – defined this way in the Basic Law – a normal “democratic” state? How is it not structurally racist and inherently acquisitive of territory?

Contrary to the demands of these two extra IHRA “examples”, the Basic Law alone shows that Israel is a “racist endeavour” and that we cannot judge it by the same standards we would a normal western-style democracy. Not least, it has a double “border” problem: it forces Jews everywhere to be included in its self-definition of the “nation”, whether they want to be or not; and it lays claim to the title deeds of other territories without any intention to confer on their non-Jewish inhabitants the rights it accords Jews.

Demanding that we treat Israel as a normal western-style liberal democracy – as the IHRA full definition requires – makes as much sense as having demanded the same for apartheid South Africa back in the 1980s.

Unaccountable politics

The Labour party has become the largest in Europe as Corbyn has attracted huge numbers of newcomers into the membership, inspired by a new kind of politics. That is a terrifying development for the old politics, which preferred tiny political cliques accountable chiefly to corporate donors, leaving a slightly wider circle of activists largely powerless.

That is why the Blairite holdouts in the party bureaucracy are quite content to use any pretext not only to root out genuine progressive activists drawn to a Corbyn-led party, including anti-Zionist Jewish activists, but to alienate tens of thousands more members that had begun to transform Labour into a grassroots movement.

A party endlessly obsessing about anti-semitism, a party that has abandoned the Palestinians, a party that has begun throwing out key progressive principles, a party that has renounced free speech, and a party that no longer puts the interests of the poor and vulnerable at the centre of its concerns is a party that will fail.

That is where the anti-semitism “crisis” is leading Labour – precisely as it was designed to do.

UPDATE:

Here is a very good illustration of where the IHRA’s classification as “anti-semitism” of any comparison of Israel and the Nazis will lead – and how it will silence not just criticism of Israel, but even any historical understanding of the nature of belligerent occupations.

The Sun newspaper calls this very short video of a talk by Corbyn “shocking”. Consider how happy you would be to be in party that outlaws this kind of speech.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

LAW at the ‘Biased Broadcasting Corporation’ lunchtime lobby, August 7

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Over 100 people attended a spirited lunchtime demonstration outside BBC Brodcasting House on August 7, which was called to protest against the ‘Biased Broadcasting Cooperation’ and particularly the way in which it has reported about the ‘anti-Semitism scandal’ in the Labour Party.

Glyn Secker, secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, tried to hand in a letter to the BBC.An agreement had been made the day before for a delegation of four people to deliver this letter of protest and that someone from the BBC would meet the delegation in order to receive the letter. When it came to it however, a security guard took the letter outside the building, promising to hand it to another security guard who would then deliver it to the addressee.

The rally, which occasionally broke into chants of “BBC, shame on you!”, heard speeches by Glyn Secker, Mike Cushman (Free Speech on Israel), Tony Greenstein (Labour Against the Witchhunt), Sam Gisagara and Stan Keable, secretary of LAW and Labour Party Marxists. He said:

“Every appeasement, every apology by Corbyn is immediately followed by fresh right wing attacks. The witch-hunt is not about to end. It is not about anti-Semitism, it is about removing Corbyn, because he is an unreliable ally of the United States and Israel. The hypocrisy of Labour’s rightwing is breathtaking. Disciplinary action against Margaret Hodge has been dropped. So we want to see the charges against Jackie Walker dropped, we want Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson reinstated. We want Ken Livingstone invited to re-join the party.

“The purpose of the witch-hunt is to silence us. We don’t want Margaret Hodge silenced by disciplining her for saying “fucking” or for calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semitic racist. We want her called to account by the Labour Party members in her Constituency Labour Party.”

Tony Greenstein, vice-chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt, said: “The BBC was born in the womb of the British state.  It’s attitude to the Palestinians is no different to its attitude to the Irish or workers strikes in this country.  It is a faithful spokesperson for the British Establishment and, as John Pilger said, it is the most effective propaganda organisation in the world.”

Report by Stan Keable