A former minister has said that “anyone who is sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians is called antisemitic.”
Clare Short, the former international development secretary appeared on Newsnight after the EHRC opened an investigation into Labour antisemitism.
“What’s happened is there has been a widening of the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel,” she said on Tuesday.
“All the research evidence – you can look at it – shows that there is not a lot of antisemitism in the Labour Party or the Liberal Party.”
She added: “They’ve broadened the definition to say criticism of Israel, which is in breach of international law, is part of antisemitism.
“People who are active on that issue are being picked on.”
“There’s been a widening of the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of Israel,” says Clare Short, former Labour MP cabinet minister who resigned the whip in 2006.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) May 28, 2019
But the IHRA working definition of antisemitism makes clear that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country” is not antisemitism.
Examples of antisemitism relating to Israel include comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and accusing Jews of having dual loyalties.
Short’s comments drew immediate criticism from journalists and Jewish leaders on social media.
Among them, Peter Mason, national secretary of
Jewish Labour, tweeted: “Clare Short joins the chorus of bad faith actors distorting truth in order to obfuscate anti Jewish racism.”
Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, described the comments as “disgraceful”.
“This from Clare Short is disgraceful and shows why the EHRC came to their decision. No empathy or understanding of the issue. Just obfuscation,” he wrote.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “Clare Short’s staggeringly ignorant comments amply illustrate why the EHRC feels the need to open a full investigation into anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party.
“This denial of antisemitism can only have been a helpful cover for racists within her party. To beat anti-Jewish prejudice, the problem needs to be confronted, not denied.”