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IJV Statement on Allegations of Antisemitism in the Labour Party

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May 1, 2016 by IJV

We are concerned at the proliferation in recent weeks of sweeping allegations of pervasive antisemitism within the Labour Party. Some of these allegations against individuals are, in our view, baseless and disingenuous; in other cases, ill-chosen language has been employed; elsewhere, there have been statements which, deliberately or otherwise, have clearly crossed the line. We welcome the fact that the Labour Party has demonstrated its commitment to rooting out antisemitism with the seriousness of its response, including the setting up of an independent inquiry.

We are equally concerned, however, by the way in which such accusations are deployed politically – whether by the press, the Conservative Party, opponents of Corbyn’s leadership within Labour, or by those seeking to counter criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. The current climate is quickly coming to resemble a witch-hunt, in which statements and associations, some going back years, are being put under the microscope.

We appreciate the concern for anti-Jewish prejudice – a concern which we share. We are committed to our principles of opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia, in any circumstance. We are therefore dismayed by a lack of parallel attention to other forms of racial and religious bigotry, particularly given the current climate of growing Islamophobia across Europe. In the same week that the government refused to admit 3000 unaccompanied minor refugees to Britain, we cannot help but note the highly disproportionate attention paid in the media to errors of speech rather than errors of deed.

We also reiterate our view that the battle against antisemitism is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as antisemitic. Allegations of antisemitism foster an atmosphere increasingly hostile to  those fighting for the rights of Palestinians at a time of growing opposition to Israel’s racist and discriminatory policies towards its Arab citizens and its ongoing occupation in violation of international law. What is clear to those of us who have been engaged in the movement for Palestinian rights, and who believe in the right to dissent of Jews in relation to Israel, is that the more public opinion turns against Israel’s indefensible actions, the more our opponents will resort to name calling in an attempt to discredit us. As Jewish critics of Israel’s policies, we urge people of conscience not to succumb to this campaign of intimidation and to continue the struggle for equal rights and freedom for all people.

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10 thoughts on “IJV Statement on Allegations of Antisemitism in the Labour Party

  1. Tony Moss says:

    Thank you. Couldn’t agree more.

    >

  2. Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi says:

    Excellent. Calm and measured. such a relief!

  3. This is a very welcome statement that I fully endorse. Thank you. It is a most necessary position statememt

  4. Lloyd Kennedy says:

    Well said. Clearly anti-Semitism exists but I also think that pressure groups such as the Community Security Trust in Britain are falsely claiming that it is on the rise. They can report the most spurious of incidents to the police and it then becomes a statistic. I don’t believe that Britain is inherently racist or anti-Semitic and the CST’s agenda skews the reality . It’s staggering to think that this false anti-Semitism canard still carries leverage, not least because it undermines the substantive anti-Semitism that has been central to the Jewish experience for centuries.

  5. I do believe the CST has an agenda and I abhor its approach to pretty much everything. Nevertheless I do believe that much of the terminology used to describe Israel and those who support Israel (even if they don’t support the actions of the current Israeli Government) is loaded with anti-semitic sentiment. I am not a paranoid person; nor do I look for anti-Semitic sentiment where none exists but in my mind there is most definitely a hardcore of people on the left whose views of Jews is less then savoury and whilst they may say they’re just legitimately criticising Israel, they’re actually going much further than that. Israel is singled out. Israel is demonised. Israel’s very existence is questioned. That, in my view, is anti-Semitism.

  6. Anne says:

    Very well put and to the point!

  7. […] comment is in full agreement with the Jewish Socialists’ Group, Independent Jewish Voices, leading (Jewish) scholars Avi Shlaim and Norman Finkelstein, and—not trivially—the […]

  8. […] Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) is a network of Jews in Britain, with diverse affiliations, who share a commitment to key principles regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: putting human rights first, observing international law, rejecting all forms of racism, and upholding the right of both Palestinians and Israelis to a peaceful and secure existence. IJV’s statement on allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party can be found at https://ijv.org.uk/2016/05/01/ijv-statement-on-allegations-of-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party/ […]

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