UK Board rejects Corbyn's new definitions of antisemitism

DATE IMPORTED:September 28, 2016Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures after delivering his keynote speech at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Britain, September 28, 2016.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
DATE IMPORTED:September 28, 2016Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures after delivering his keynote speech at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Britain, September 28, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The British Board of Deputies has rejected a possible proposal by UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to adopt three out of the four internationally accepted definitions of antisemitism omitted by the party’s new guidelines on the issue last month.
According to a report in The Jewish News, Corbyn is considering adopting three of the definitions, following a massive backlash against him and the Labour Party from the UK Jewish community, the British media and Labour moderates.
The three definitions are reportedly: the common antisemitic charge that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their country of citizenship; comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; and applying double standards to Israeli policy and actions that are not expected of other countries.
The one International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition that is reportedly not being considered for adoption is the claim that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
In response to the report, the Board of Deputies issued a statement on Twitter saying, “We won’t accept a watered down definition designed to let antisemites off the hook,” and pointed out that the IHRA definitions specifically state that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
In a column by Corbyn published by The Guardian on Friday, the Labour leader specifically said the definition describing Israel as a racist endeavor being antisemitic which bothered him. He wrote, “It is unfortunately the case that this particular example, dealing with Israel and racism, has sometimes been used by those wanting to restrict criticism of Israel that is not antisemitic.”
On Sunday, Corbyn also posted a video on Twitter seeking to repair ties with British Jews, and acknowledged that antisemitism has surfaced within the Labour Party in recent years.
“Driving antisemitism out of the party for good and working with the Jewish community to rebuild trust are vital priorities,” he said.
“I’M SORRY for the hurt that has been caused to many Jewish people, we have been too slow in processing disciplinary cases of mostly online antisemitic abuse by party members,” he continued, saying the party was acting to speed up the process.
He argued, however, that the number of Labour Party members who have been involved in antisemitic incidents over the last three years was “less than 0.1%” of the overall party membership.
“People who hold antisemitic views have no place in the Labour Party,” Corbyn continued, adding, “Any government I lead will take whatever measures are necessary to support the security of all Jewish communities and their culture.”
Corbyn did not, however, apologize for his past actions which have included taking strongly anti-Israel and anti-Zionist positions, embracing terrorist groups, and accusing Israel of a false-flag operation against Egyptian troops.
In the interview with Iranian propaganda outlet Press TV in 2012, in which Corbyn relayed his conspiracy theory about the jihadi attack on Egyptian soldiers, he also referred to a convicted Hamas terrorist operative who was participating in the interview by video link as “a brother.”
The Board of Deputies commented on Twitter that Corbyn’s claim regarding the statistical prevalence of antisemitism in his party was the “inevitable outcome of a political culture to which he has contributed.”
Further pressure on the Labour leader was applied by the party deputy leader Tom Watson in comments he made to The Observer newspaper on Saturday, in which he said Labour needs to tackle the crisis “or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment.”
Watson said in particular that recent disciplinary proceedings against two Labour MPs who have strongly criticized Corbyn should be dropped, and that the IHRA definitions of antisemitism be adopted in full.
Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism NGO, responded to Corbyn’s video by saying it was “devoid of any apology for his own antisemitism or promises of specific actions,” and added adamantly that “Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite and under his leadership the Labour Party has become institutionally antisemitic and an existential threat to British Jewry.”
Meanwhile, further allegations of antisemitism were made against Corbyn by The Mail on Sunday, which said the Labour leader refers to a Jewish MP, Louise Ellman in private, as “the honorable member for Tel Aviv,” ostensibly accusing her of representing Israel, instead of her constituents, in the House of Commons.
A spokesman for Labour strongly denied the allegation.