Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in London, Britain, April 2, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)
Leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn attempted to include an addendum to the defi - nition of antisemitism it adopted on Tuesday night to allow party members to describe Israel as racist due to the “circumstances around its foundation.”
Corbyn submitted a 500 word addendum to Labour’s National Executive Committee detailing his request to allow Labour members the ability to call Israel racist, but the document was rejected by the NEC, the ITV news outlet reported.
Corbyn wrote that it should not “be regarded as antisemitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as rac - ist because of their discriminatory impact, or to support another settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
One of the key examples of antisemitism in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition which the NEC, Labour’s gov - erning body, omitted when it partially adopted the document in July was the clause “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determina - tion, e.g. by claiming that the State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
Corbyn has a long history of anti-Zionist activ - ism. In an interview Corbyn did for Iranian pro - paganda outlet Press TV in 2011, he seemingly questioned Israel’s very right to exist while com - menting on what he described as media bias towards the Jewish state in the BBC.
Rival protests as Labour's ruling body holds antisemitism talks, September 4, 2018 (Reuters)
“I think there is a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, Israel has a right to exist, Israel has its security concerns,” Corbyn said in the interview.
It seems likely that Corbyn’s attempted inter - vention on Tuesday night, and his resistance in general to adopting the IHRA guidelines in full, are fueled by his concern that many of his own personal activities and comments in the past could have contravened this definition and could even lead to disciplinary action against him.
He added in his rejected addendum “Both Zion - ism and anti-Zionism have always had honorable proponents in our movement, and these points of view will continue to be respected. Anti-Zion - ism is not in itself antisemitic, and many Jews themselves are not Zionists.”
Despite the NEC’s rejection of Corbyn’s doc - ument, it did nevertheless caveat its adoption of the full IHRA definition by saying that it had done so “alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”
The Labour Friends of Israel organization issued a statement regarding Corbyn’s addendum denouncing the leader and saying that the lead - er himself was a key obstacle in attempts to rid Labour of antisemitism.
“It is contemptible but utterly unsurprising that Jeremy Corbyn prioritized and fought for the right of antisemites to describe the world’s only Jewish state as racist in a meeting supposedly about combating antisemitism,” the group said in response to the report.
“It is now even more clear that Jeremy Corbyn is part of the problem, not the solution.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, a key communal organization, described Corbyn’s doc - ument as “of great concern,” adding that it would “undermine the spirit of the attempt to tackle antisemitism. There need to be answers to the many questions it raises.”
But the Jewish Leadership Council, another central community group, recanted its previous cautious welcome of the NEC decision on Tues - day night and lambasted Corbyn for his attempt - ed intervention and the caveat that was adopted.
“It has now become absolutely clear that the Leader of the Party attempted shamefully to undermine the entire IHRA definition,” the JLC said in a second statement on Tuesday night.