Labour have a 'blindspot' when it comes to antisemitism, says Karen Pollock

Protesters outside Labour HQ on Tuesday afternoon

Protesters outside Labour HQ on Tuesday afternoon

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust has said the Labour party, who are traditionally anti-racist, have a “blindspot” when it comes to antisemitism.

Karen Pollock from the Trust joined the Julia Hartley-Brewer show on talkRADIO to talk about the Labour party adopting the IHRA’s examples of antisemitism.

In a statement posted on Tuesday afternoon the Labour party said: "The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA (the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.

The IHRA definition has added to the intense antisemtism row currently enthralling the Labour party, after Labour didn’t fully accept the examples in July.

Despite adopting the examples, the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn have faced criticism by including a caveat that allows protects freedom of speech when discussing the actions of the Israeli government.

Karen Pollock has said that the party adopting the terms won’t stop the antisemtism row from continuing, as it’s been already been “widely acknowledge” by 31 countries.  

“I think whilst it’s a positive step that this definition of antisemitism has been accepted by this ruling body of the Labour party, it’s been going on for months.

“They’ve been debating whether this should be accepted when it’s widely acknowledged and recognised as a good, fair, decent definition of antisemitism by 31 countries, hundreds of councils in this country and organisations like the Crown Prosecution Service, yet the Labour party apparently know better.

“There is an extra caveat about freedom of speech and that suggests without it there wouldn’t have been freedom of speech, when there was no way the debate could’ve been stifled and anyone who wants to have a meaningful debate about Israel and Palestine, would be able to and has been able to.

“Can we move on, can we draw a line now? We’re in a difficult place because over the last couple of years, incident after incident have not been dealt with efficiently, effectively and robustly.

“People who call out antisemitism seem to be punished rather than those responsible for it.

Labour MP Chris Williamson was talking to Julia on talkRADIO on Tuesday morning, who said that some members in the Jewish community “reject” the international definition.

“I’m afraid that isn’t familiar to me,” said Pollock,

“I would listen to the established voices of the Jewish community rather than Mr Williamson who says white is black.”


Leaked dossier

Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, announced on Tuesday that the police will be investigating a leaked dossier that allegedly shows antisemitism behaviour against the party.

According to the dossier, some 45 Labour members feature in the document which was shown to Mak Chishty, who used to be in charge of hate crime at the Metropolitan police.

He said 17 of the cases made in the dossier were strong enough to be considered hate incidents which should be reported to the police.

“The thing is antisemitism, racism is a blight on our society,” added Pollock.

“It’s not happening in one place, but the fact is the Labour party has a traditional history of being anti-racist, but when it comes to antisemitism there seems to be a blindspot.”