Jeremy Corbyn’s position on three of the four examples of contemporary anti-Semitism yet to be included in the party’s code has softened and he now looks ready to include them, Jewish News understands.
But any such movement would still fall short of community leaders’ insistence that there can be no negotiation on the adoption of all 11 examples accompanying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
He contines to warn against including the allegation that Israel is a ‘racist endeavour’ among the examples that could be viewed as anti-Semitic.
Labour’s governing body has so far agreed to adopt seven examples into its code – leading Jewish organisations yesterday to attack Corbyn for “falsely” claiming the party sought to alter just one.
But in a move that seems unlikely to quell the row, Corbyn is believed to be ready to include three of the missing four including the slur that Jews are “more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”.
As things stand, it has been moved to a different section of the code where it is simply described as “wrong”.
The Labour leader is also apparently ready to include among allegations that could be viewed as anti-Semitic comparisons between Israeli policy and Nazi Germany – despite suggestions from some campaigners that his own hosting of an event on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010 could contravene it. Previously the party suggested such an offence could lead to disciplinary action for bringing the party into disrepute but not for anti-Semitism “unless there is evidence of anti-Semitic intent”, which experts warned would be difficult to prove. The third additional example is holding Israel to higher standards than other countries.
But Corbyn made clear in his article for The Guardian on Friday that he retained his concerns over a fourth example – the claim that Israel is a ‘racist endeavour.
He said: “Our code is a good faith attempt to contextualise those examples and make them legally watertight for use as part of our disciplinary procedures, as well as to draw on additional instances of antisemitism.
“Our actual differences are in fact very small – they really amount to half of one example out of 11, touching on free speech in relation to Israel. 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. The Commons home affairs committee acknowledged this risk when it looked at the IHRA examples.”
Despite community leaders making their position clear, he added: “I feel confident that this outstanding issue can be resolved through dialogue with community organisations, including the Jewish Labour Movement, during this month’s consultation.”
A source close to Corbyn told Jewish News: “There has been movement, as suggested in the article, on those examples that aren’t explicitly referenced in the article or included word for word in the code. The consultation is open and it looks like we’re ready to include those examples.”
A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said: “We won’t accept a watered down definition designed to let anti-Semites off the hook. Labour must stop prevaricating and do the right thing.”
The news comes as deputy leader Tom Watson piled pressure on Corbyn to adopt IHRA with all the examples, warning the party would “disappear into an external vortex of shame” if it didn’t put an end of the anti-Semitism row dominating the headlines. The row first erupted two weeks ago when the NEC adopted a code of conduct on anti-Semitism that adapted three examples and left one out completely, ignoring pleas from the Chief Rabbi and other community leaders.
The NEC said after adopting the controversial code last month that it would still consult the community over IHRA.
In his article – which the Jewish Labour Movement condemned for being more words rather than actions – Corbyn acknowledged the community should have been consulted “more extensively at an earlier stage”. Neither the Board of Deputies or the Jewish Leadership Council we’re consulted at all before it’s adoption, while a representative of JLM was invited to a meeting, only to be informed when in the room that he was going to be asked to give evidence there and then.
He also acknowledged the “real” issue with anti-Semitism in the party and told those spreading poison “you do not do it in my name. You are not my supporters and have no place in our movement”.
But the Board and JLC last night described the article as “ill timed and ill conceived”, having been released just three hours before Shabbat and with parts published previously.
.@BoDPres: We won’t accept a watered down definition designed to let antisemites off the hook. @TheIHRA definition clear that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country’ not regarded as antisemitic’. Labour must stop prevaricating & do the right thing https://t.co/qhILTlRToq
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) August 5, 2018
A statement said: “It is contemptible that Mr Corbyn cites the Home Affairs inquiry into antisemitism, whilst ignoring what it rightly said about him. Actions are the only thing that have ever mattered. We heard and read the same words back in April, at the launch of the compromised Chakrabarti Report and before that, when the Baroness Royall’s Report was half-buried. None of the clichés and promises have been met, the hatred and vilification has intensified and the purging is now gathering pace.
“These are the actions that should matter, not just to Jews, but to all decent people who believe in fundamental liberal democratic principles.”