Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged to protect “Palestinian rights” as the party reluctantly adopted the full definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.
The National Executive Committee (NEC), the party’s highest-ranking body, however, also adopted a parallel statement clarifying that the adoption of the IHRA definition will not “in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of the Palestinians.”
Corbyn personally interfered in the process and attempted to include an addendum to allow party members to describe Israel as “racist,” which was rejected. Corbyn wrote that it should not “be regarded as antisemitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact, or to support another settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
He also said that “Anti-Zionism is not in itself antisemitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists,” raising questions over Israel’s right to exist.
The Labour Party had initially adopted only the first part of the IHRA’s definition, leaving aside examples of classical anti-Semitic tropes, Holocaust denial and attempts to apply a double standard to the State of Israel.
Following the vote, Labour Friends of Israel issued a statement regarding Corbyn’s document denouncing the leader and saying that Corbyn himself was a key obstacle in attempts to rid Labour of racism.
“It is contemptible but utterly unsurprising that Jeremy Corbyn prioritized and fought for the right of antisemites to describe the world’s only Jewish state as racist in a meeting supposedly about combatting antisemitism,” the group said in response to the report. “It is now even more clear that Jeremy Corbyn is part of the problem not the solution.”
The Jewish Leadership Council also lambasted Corbyn for his attempted intervention and the caveat that was adopted. “It has now become absolutely clear that the Leader of the Party attempted shamefully to undermine the entire IHRA definition.”
Earlier in the week, two former Labour Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, described the situation as a “truly shameful episode for the Labour Party,” and as a “stain” on the organization. Both called for the IHRA definition to be adopted in full, without amendments.
In a poll published on Thursday in The Jewish Chronicle, a leading community paper in Britain, almost 40% of British Jews said they would “seriously consider emigrating,” if Corbyn became Prime Minister. A day earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: “Jewish people living in this country should feel safe and secure – and not have to worry about their futures in their own country.”
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