Greens to debate IHRA definition and support for BDS

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Greens to debate IHRA definition and support for BDS

Motion put forward by ex deputy leader claims the definition 'conflates opposition to Israel with antisemitism', as the Board of Deputies says the party is at a 'risky juncture'

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Shahrar Ali (wikipedia/Author	RogerGLewis/Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0))
Shahrar Ali (wikipedia/Author RogerGLewis/Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0))

The Green Party is set to debate the validity of the international definition of antisemitism.

A series of motions have been put forward endorsing BDS (boycott divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel and to oppose the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition.

The Board of Deputies called it a “risky juncture” for the party while the Community Security Trust said a refusal to back IHRA would mean “setting themselves apart from other mainstream political bodies.” The conference takes place from 1-7 March.

The motion in question, put forward by the party’s former deputy leader and current Home Affairs spokesperson, Shahrar Ali, claims  there has been “relentless pressure” on public bodies to adopt IHRA “and the associated contentious examples referring to Israel”.

He says examples in the definition “systematically conflate opposition to Israeli policies with antisemitism”, and adopting it  “would mean that BDS would be treated as antisemitic”. You can read the agenda here.

Reacting to the proposed motion, the Board of Deputies said: “This is a risky juncture for the Green Party. There is anecdotal evidence of those who poisoned the atmosphere in Labour in recent years trying to infiltrate the Greens. As such we call on them to adopt the IHRA definition as soon as possible and make it clear that they will not tolerate antisemitism in any form.”

In the meantime, if the party is serious about reaching out to the Jewish community and maintaining a constructive stance on the Middle East, it will reject the divisive BDS movement, and look to build bridges with Israeli and Palestinian peace organisations instead.”

A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust said: “If the Green Party decides not to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism they will be setting themselves apart from other mainstream political parties, hundreds of local authorities, national and devolved governments and all the main representative bodies of the Jewish community. On the other hand, if they do adopt the definition it will send a powerful signal that they are serious about giving themselves the tools to tackle antisemitism within their own party.”

The Jewish Greens told the JN it is aware of the motions relating to antisemitism, but “these are low down on the agenda and are unlikely to be heard. We are pleased that the entire leadership team, without exception, have shown full solidarity with Jewish Greens.”

Shahrar Ali told Jewish News: “Members of the Jewish community are not univocal on the utility of the IHRA definition. Many British academics of Jewish descent have now publicly opposed adoption of the IHRA definition as counterproductive on its own terms and inimical to free speech on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Greens will continue to fight racism in all its ugly, ignorant forms, including anti-Jewish racism.”

“This motion to our conference asks the Green Party to avoid adoption of a definition which legal scholars have increasingly warned about the incoherency of. Passing this motion would, to the contrary, show that we are serious about tackling both antisemitism in society and Israel’s crimes in international law against the Palestinian people.”

The Green Party has been approached for comment.

Motion supporting the BDS movement
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