Thousands of Labour members have taken part in antisemitism awareness training sessions in a move taken by the party to stamp out the anti-Jewish racism that thrived under previous leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In what Labour confirmed was its biggest ever training initiative, party members were invited by General Secretary David Evans to view the online sessions put on by the Jewish Labour Movement.
Education sessions on what constitutes antisemitism were amongst the Action Plan commitments within the Equality and Human Rights Commission report (EHRC) that Labour agreed to undertake last October.
Monday evening’s hour long session was presented by Mike Katz, JLM’s national chair, and the group’s national organiser Rebecca Filer.
The module covered an introduction to the Jewish community in the UK, what antisemitism looks like in the world today, and practical steps to engage positively with Jewish members and voters.
It included discussion of the common tropes around Jewish power, money and on the blood libel.
There was also a section that dealt with Israel/Palestine and the need to ensure that criticism of a government did not stray into criticism of an entire people.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner gave a welcome to members at the start of the session.
Following the event, which was the first time in three years that JLM had contributed training on antisemitism to the party, many members posted positive messages on social media.
Perran Moon, a Labour councillor in Banbury Grimsbury and Hightown tweeted: “A fascinating training session.
“I learnt a lot in a very short but well-run and highly informative webinar.”
Christine Dobson, North Durham CLP secretary said of the JLM training session: “I will be recommending it to all our Executive Committee and all of our members.”
Kelly Grehan, a councillor in Dartford North East tweeted: “Thank you Rebecca Filer, Mike Katz and UK Labour for antisemitism training tonight.”
Labour and Unite union activist Steve Cooke tweeted: “Just finished Labour’s ‘Understanding Antisemitism’.
“Excellent content, really well presented.”
Former Labour general secretary Jennie Formby had infuriated Jewish Labour members three years ago when she undercut JLM as training providers, with the Corbyn leadership reaching out to groups like JVL instead.
Left-wing activists, expelled or suspended from Labour, had attempted to spark an outcry over JLM’s involvement in Monday’s sessions – but they were widely condemned by the majority of members.
JML’s Mike Katz told Jewish News: “We are very pleased to be partnering with the Labour Party to carry out antisemitism education. It’s vital that we do this to achieve the change in Labour Party culture that is so badly needed.
“The more Labour members understand antisemitism, the better equipped they’ll be to challenge it if they see it in their local parties and wider society”
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