Baroness Royall tackles root of ‘anti-Semitism virus’ in Oxford Labour Club

The report also addressed the tendency to disguise anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism.

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August 4, 2016 00:07
2 minute read.
Baroness Janet Anne Royal

Baroness Janet Anne Royal. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)

 
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Labour peer Baroness Janet Anne Royall put forward recommendations to address “the causes that allow the virus of anti-Semitism the space to breathe,” in a report on the phenomenon in the Oxford University Labour Club released in its entirety on Wednesday.

While there is no evidence of institutional anti-Semitism in the club, there have been incidents of anti-Semitic behavior, Royall stated in the full report, publicized by the Jewish Chronicle.

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The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party tasked Royall with the inquiry, on the heels of the resignation of former Oxford club co-chairman Alex Chalmers in February.

Chalmers left the group on the basis that many of its members had “some kind of problem with Jews.”

Royall’s report was completed in May, but the National Executive Committee reportedly restricted its release at the time.

“I was dismayed and ashamed that the ancient virus of anti-Semitism had infected our party and wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that current problems were properly addressed and preventative action was taken to minimize the risk of recurrence,” Royall said in the introduction to her report.

The long-time shadow leader of the House of Lords was vice chairwoman of the Chakrabarti review into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The inquiry was launched earlier this year following high-profile suspensions from the party over an anti-Semitism scandal, and in June concluded that “the Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism.”

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The baroness sifted through 300 pages of evidence from more than 40 members of the Oxford club, and interviewed eight of them.

Her recommendations include: joint training sessions with the Jewish Labour Movement for officers of all Labour clubs in relation with anti-Semitism; a clear line of reporting for racist incidents of any kind; and properly resourced procedure to investigate swiftly and take appropriate action when allegations are made.”

The report also addressed the tendency to disguise anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism: “Alongside this sits a view that criticism of the government of Israel is not anti-Semitic (it is not) and therefore being anti-Zionist cannot be anti-Semitic. Yes it can and, unfortunately, it is often used deliberately as a tool of anti-Semitism.

“It is apparent, that there are words like ‘Zio’ and tropes such as ‘blood libel,’ which are anti-Semitic to all observers. When these are used, swift and decisive action should be taken,” she wrote.

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