Julia Hartley-Brewer: Jewish Chronicle Editor criticises Labour's anti-semitism code

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Labour's plans to tackle anti-Semitism were condemned by Jewish groups as Jeremy Corbyn was confronted by a furious MP about the party's handling of the controversy.

The party's ruling body approved a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism despite intense criticism from the party's MPs and peers as well as Jewish leaders.

The move reportedly led senior MP Dame Margaret Hodge to launch an angry tirade against party leader Mr Corbyn in the Commons, calling him a "f****** anti-Semite".

The document states explicitly that "anti-Semitism is racism" and it is "unacceptable", but stops short of signing up in full to the definition drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The Huffington Post reported that Dame Margaret told him: "You're a f****** anti-Semite and a racist ... You have proved you don't want people like me in the party."

Talking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO, Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle said: “We can all have our views that what can go on in someone’s soul, I’ve noticed on social media a lot of people saying that how can a lifelong anti-racist [Corbyn] could be anti-semitic, that’s not the point, the point is what he thinks, the point is what he does.

“If somebody walks around the street kicking people with ginger hair and then says I love people with ginger hair and they say ‘I’m showing them affection’, then nobody would be in any doubt that, that person has an issue with people with ginger hair.

“The point is that the Labour party has adopted a definition of anti-semitism that specifically allows people to use remarks about Jews, anybody who adopts the formally recognised definition that other people have adopted would be banned.

“So, you can say under the Labour party’s definition it’s not a problem to say that Jews have divided loyalties, in other words the typical anti-semitic view that is played out is that Jews are loyal to another state: Israel, rather than Britain, that’s about as classic and anti-semitic theme you can get but under the Labour party’s that would be permissible.”

Labour officials drew up the code in the wake of protests by Jewish groups outside Parliament earlier this year.

It states that criticism of the state of Israel and its policies should not automatically be regarded as anti-Semitic, and makes clear that even "contentious" comments on this issue "will not be treated as anti-Semitism unless accompanied by specific anti-Semitic content ... or by other evidence of anti-Semitic intent".

The code explicitly endorses the IHRA's working definition of anti-Semitism and includes a list of behaviours likely to be regarded as anti-Semitic copied word-for-word from the international organisation's own document.

But it omits four examples from the IHRA list:

- Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country;

- Claiming that Israel's existence as a state is a racist endeavour;

- Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations; and

- Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.

Labour insisted that while the examples are not reproduced word for word, they are covered in the new code.

To those members of the Labour party outraged by the new code, Pollard has suggested that those who disagree with it need to ‘fight it’ or not ‘be part of a party that singles out a minority’.

“Absolutely nothing will happen, because absolutely nothing has happened in the two or three years that this has been going on.”

“There have been a lot of people, very decent, good Labour MPs who say how terrible it is, but in the end when it comes to action nothing happens, and nothing will happen because the Corbynites now run the Labour party. And the only option for people in the Labour party who disagree with it is of course to fight, but when you realise the fight is over, in my view, the only option is to say, ‘I’ve had enough, and I’m not willing to be part of a party that singles out a minority and makes it okay for that minority to be attacked’.”