November 21, 2018

UK Labour Party Under Fire for Lackluster Anti-Semitism Guidelines

Britain’s Labour Party has been plagued by issues of anti-Semitism under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The party has since issued some new guidelines on anti-Semitism, and they have not been well-received by Jewish organizations.

The guidelines claim to embrace the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of anti-Semitism, stating that anti-Semitism is racism and that it’s wrong to blame Jews for the actions of the Israeli government, as well as accuse Jews of double-loyalty to Israel.

However, as the Jewish Chronicle’s Lee Harpin points out, the guidelines state that while it is anti-Semitic to use slurs like “zio,” “It is not anti-Semitism to refer to ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionists’ as part of a considered discussion about the Israeli state.” The guidelines also discourage against comparing the actions of Israel to the Nazis, however, “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors from examples of historic misconduct. It is not anti-Semitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of anti-Semitic intent.”

This prompted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s Jonathan Greenblatt to tweet:

Additionally, Harpin noted that the guidelines state that it’s “problematic” for Israel to call itself the Jewish state.

British Jewish organizations have criticized the guidelines for not fully embracing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, namely the parts that state it’s anti-Semitic to delegitimize the state of Israel in order to prevent the Jews from exercising “their right to self-determination.”

“It is impossible to understand why Labour refuses to align itself with this universal definition,” The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council said. “Its actions only dilute the definition and further erode the lack of confidence that British Jews have in their sincerity to tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour movement.”

Corbyn has been accused of anti-Semitism, with examples of him being involved in a secret Facebook group where people posted material from David Duke and used anti-Semitic slurs like “JewNazi,” as well as him praising the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends.” Given how close Corbyn was to becoming prime minister of Britain, the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism is particularly important to monitor going forward.