A group of young Labour activists who slammed the party’s “unforgivable” decision not to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, say they have received a “completely inadequate” response to their concerns.
Eighteen members of Barnet Young Labour (BYL), most of whom are Jewish, wrote to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and chair of the party’s governing body Jennie Formby earlier this month. They called on the party to tackle anti-Semitism and fully accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of Jew-hatred.
It comes after Labour backed a modified version of IHRA last month, which omitted four key examples, including accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel and comparing Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.
The letter, signed by “young, grassroots, enthusiastic activists” criticised the party for its handling of the crisis. They say their task of convincing Barnet of voting Labour, which has the highest Jewish population for any constituency, has “been made impossible by the Labour Leadership’s repeated inability to get to grips with the issue of anti-Semitism”.
The letter described having “encountered Jewish voters crying”, but added that “national consistency in ignoring Jewish voices [means] our task becomes harder and the damage becomes deeper.”
They concluded by calling on Corbyn and Formby to “adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism as the first of many steps in tackling this evil. To do anything else would be unforgivable.”
But the response from the party, which did not come from either Corbyn or Formby directly, failed to mention the IHRA definition.
It said Labour recognises “anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets.. causing offence and hurt to its Jewish community” and stated that “Jeremy Corbyn sincerely apologises for the pain that has been caused.”
The response also said that “Corbyn will be meeting representatives from the Jewish community.. to rebuild confidence”.
Luisa Attfield, a co-signatory of the BYL letter slammed the party’s response, which “fails to address any of our concerns outlined in our open letter.”
“We wrote to Jeremy, and all other members on the NEC urging them to adopt the full IHRA definition of antisemitism. This response failed to even mention that, let alone give us an answer. We are very disappointed in both this and the failure to reference Barnet, where as we mentioned we had lost a local election over anti-Semitism.
“The so-called pockets of anti-Semitism are far more widespread than alluded to in this reply, with three members of the NEC facing a backlash over anti-Semitism in the past two years.”