Labour branch under fire for accusing Israel of funding campaign to ‘conflate criticism with anti-Semitism’

Posted On: 
13th January 2019

A Labour party branch has been criticised for accusing Israel of funding an international campaign to accuse its critics of anti-Semitism.

The local Labour group have been criticised for drawing up the motion
Credit: 
PA

The motion, which was put forward by members in Lewisham Deptford to be discussed at the party’s London Region Conference, also called for Labour councillors and mayors to resist attempts to adopt the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance definition of anti-Jewish racism. 

The motion, which stated the Constituency Labour Party was “against racism of all kinds” added that the “Israeli government resources an international campaign to conflate criticism of itself with antisemitism”.

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It also stated the local Labour group was “concerned” that full adoption of the IHRA definition would put pressure on London councils to shut down “community participation in the struggle for democracy in Israel/Palestine".

A party source confirmed that despite winning initial approval from members, the motion was not chosen to be put forward as the CLP’s submission to the regional conference following a secret run-off vote.

But activists, including Miriam Mirwitch, the National Chair of Young Labour, hit out at the local party for initially backing the plan.

“This is absolutely disgraceful,” she tweeted. “Ashamed to see this racist motion passed by Lewisham Deptford Labour. Our movement deserves so much better than this.”

The motion also stated that “the IHRA ‘definition’ has already been cited in attempts to sack workers for expressing views about Palestine.”

Labour spent much of last summer arguing over whether to include the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in its code of conduct - something Jeremy Corbyn was initially reluctant to do.

Party bosses eventually adopted the internationally-agreed definition in September of last year.

Local Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft said: “Lewisham Deptford members recently discussed concerns about the application of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in local government. I do not share these concerns and believe that this debate ought to have been ended decisively when our NEC backed the IHRA definition in full.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Gerber, Director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: “Once again, it’s clear that too many Labour party members think they know better than Britain’s Jews how to define anti-Semitism.

“Unfortunately, the bizarre conspiracy theories which permeate this motion are all too reflective of Corbyn’s Labour party.”

The CLP were approached for comment.