Jewish community elders react arrogantly to Labour’s new code of conduct

JVL Introduction

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council still think they have the right to write Labour’s policy on antisemitism: “It is for Jews to determine for themselves what antisemitism is.”

The Jewish Chronicle’s editor is apoplectic and slanderous, malevolently accusing Labour of  being “institutionally antisemitic”.

And Ivor Caplin, new chair of JLM, is having his legs shot off at the knees by others in his organisation for failing to be hysterical about everything.

BoD and JLC, Community Briefing
5 July 2018

Board of Deputies and JLC react to Labour’s antisemitism code of conduct

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein have responded to Labour’s newly approved code of conduct on antisemitism.

They said: “It is for Jews to determine for themselves what antisemitism is. The UK Jewish community has adopted in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism, as have the British Government, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, 124 local authorities across the country and numerous governments around the world. It is impossible to understand why Labour refuses to align itself with this universal definition. Its actions only dilute the definition and further erode the existing lack of confidence that British Jews have in their sincerity to tackle antisemitism within the Labour movement.”

Here is Sidney Pollard, JC editor, in full flow:

Labour’s new guidelines show it is institutionally antisemitic

Stephen Pollard, Jewish Chronicle
5 July 2018

The code of conduct adopted by the NEC is a cynical excercise in Jew hatred

Should you not have heard of Godwin’s Law, let me explain that it holds that as any online discussion develops, someone will always compare someone else with Hitler.

So…let’s speed things up.

If you were to draw up a shortlist for the least suitable person to draw up a definition of antisemitism, it’s my contention that at the top would be…yes, him.

But let’s broaden this out. Let’s say not AH, but Nazis generally. I think we can all agree that you would not accept a definition of antisemitism drawn up by Nazis.

Ok, so who else would be on the shortlist of the least suitable people to draw up a definition of antisemitism?

Perhaps you can tell where this is heading.

This week, the Labour Party adopted its own definition of antisemitism. That’s right. The party that has spent the past two years mired in allegations that it refuses to take antisemitism seriously has drawn up its own 16-point code of conduct on antisemitism, a definition that is unique to the Labour Party.

Not one other organisation on the planet operates the same criteria that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has just adopted. And yet somehow the same Labour Party expects the Jewish community – and everyone else – to take this as serious evidence of its commitment to tackling antisemitism.

To say they are taking us for fools doesn’t even come close. Because this is hard left politics at its most cynical and shameful.

Labour has taken some of the language used in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is now widely accepted as the most useful definition and has been adopted by the government, the Crown Prosecution Service, many local councils and many other countries.

But instead of adopting the definition as agreed by all these bodies, Labour has excised the parts which relate to Israel and how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic.

Let’s stop here to make the ritual point which shouldn’t be needed but is, that there is nothing antisemitic about criticising Israel. Israelis criticise Israel. Jews do. Everyone is – of course – free to do so. The only people who say that the accusation of antisemitism is used to stop criticism of Israel is antisemites.

But this isn’t about that. This is about Labour going out of its way to ensure that party members can be free to use antisemitic language and that they can use Israel as part of that.

The guidelines, for example, suggest at one point that Israel’s “description of itself as a ‘Jewish state’ can cause particular difficulty in the context of deciding whether language or behaviour is anti-Semitic.”

The guidelines go on to say that the use of “Zionist” and “Zionism” in a positive way by pro-Israel supporters is problematic.

This is the nub of it. The guidelines demand that “antisemitic intent” is necessary if any criticism of Israel is to be held as wrong: “It is not antisemitism to refer to ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionists’ as part of a considered discussion about the Israeli state.” So you can feel free to go right ahead and scream “Zio” at any random Jew you encounter, and remain a Labour member. Labour has no issue with this, so long as you mean well.

Or go further, if you like. Scream “Zio-Nazi”, because so long as your heart is in the right place, that’s just fine. As the guidelines put it: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors from examples of historic misconduct.

“It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”

Every time the issue of Labour antisemitism raises its head, the same pattern repeats. The party – and its Dear Leader – says that they are deeply committed to the fight against antisemitism and it is outrageous to suggest otherwise. A smear, even.

And then that same party goes on to show why anyone who falls for that is, to put it at its most charitable, an idiot.

Look what’s going on this time, with this new definition.

Antisemitism is being given its own rules, separate to any other form of racism. Labour will say this shows just how committed it is to fighting antisemitism.

Meanwhile on planet real world, what this really means is that, because antisemitic intent is held to be necessary for any Israel-related language to be antisemitic, those who describe themselves as lifelong antiracists – who just happen to have a problem with what they call Zio-Nazis – can say that because antisemitism is indeed racism, and they are anti-racists, then by definition they have no antisemitic intent and thus cannot be antisemitic.

There are still those who think Labour can be dragged from this sewer. Many of them are admirable people.

But they are simply unwilling, or unable, to face what must surely now be clear to everyone else – that Labour is now in the grip of a hard left so malign that the party is no longer a mainstream vehicle for social change but a vehicle for race hate.

Labour is now institutionally antisemitic.

And here are two articles from the Jewish Chronicle which suggest a JLM at war with itself, 4th and 5th July

1. Jewish Labour Movement chair condemned over Labour antisemitism meeting

Exclusive: Ivor Caplin faces claim he was ‘played’ by Labour leadership

New Jewish Labour Movement chair Ivor Caplin is at the centre of a furious row after it was revealed he attended a meeting with Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby just one day before controversial guidelines on antisemitism were unanimously agreed by the party’s ruling body.

Mr Caplin and JLM political officer Neil Nerva both met with Ms Formby on Monday for what the Labour general secretary later described as a “very positive and helpful meeting”.

Details of the Labour leadership’s attempt to amend the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism were shared with both JLM officials ahead of the meeting on Tuesday of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.

The new rules on what Labour now accepts to be antisemitism have serious implications for the scores of outstanding disciplinary cases of alleged antisemitism that have dogged the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

But the JC has learned that Mr Caplin and Mr Nerva have subsequently both faced angry questions from senior figures both within the JLM and from other community organisations over their conduct at Monday’s meeting.

They have both furiously denied suggestions that they “waved through” Labour’s new guidelines on a  “red line communal issue” such as the IHRA definition.

But one angry source insisted: “Effectively those two went into the meeting unprepared, having been pre-warned about how important it was to know what to look out for and what to ask.

“Labour’s attempt to rewrite the IHRA definition is a red line issue for the JLM and for the whole Jewish community.

“But in the aftermath of Monday’s meeting, it just looks like the pair of them have been played.”

When the JC attempted to contact Mr Caplin on Wednesday, he said he was busy in a meeting and suggested that Mr Nerva would speak on his behalf.

Mr Nerva, a Labour councillor in Queens Park, north west London, played down suggestions that he and Mr Caplin had approved the antisemitism guidelines that were shown to them.

He said the meeting with Ms Formby had been an “update meeting” at which the pair were “not able to take away any documents to consult further with colleagues in JLM.”

“It was a meeting to share information and not a negotiating meeting,” added Mr Nerva.

The JC has seen copy of the letter sent by Ms Formby on behalf of the Labour Party on Tuesday to the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust in which she confirmed the “positive” nature of Monday’s meeting and invited representatives of the three organisations to attend a “feedback” meeting on July 17.

The letter also included the new 16-point code of conduct approved by Labour’s NEC at a meeting on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, senior communal figures said they were “hugely concerned” by the new antisemitism guidelines.

Within the new guidelines is the suggestion that there is a need to prove “antisemitic intent” in relation to criticism of the state of Israel along with the suggestion that: “It is not antisemitism to refer to ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionists’ as part of a considered discussion about the Israeli state.”

In an apparent acknowledgment that it is acceptable to compare the actions of Israel with some of the most repressive regimes in history, the guidelines state: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”

Reacting to the new NEC guidelines, a senior official from one Jewish communal group said: “We don’t accept that the IHRA Working Definition needs to be re-written. But even if we did, the current Labour Party leadership are the last people we would choose to do it.

“It is insulting for them to think they are in a position to tell the Jewish community how to define antisemitism.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a letter sent by JLM’s parliamentary chair Luciana Berger to Ms Formby accused her of ignoring the group’s “three-year engagement on Labour’s antisemitism crisis.”

The letter, which was co-signed by Mr Caplin, said that the new antisemitism definition suggested the work of senior JLM figures such as national secretary Peter Mason on the issue “was ignored”  and called for the Party to “abandon this definition without haste and make clear that is has already adopted and actively using IHRA.”


2. JLM chair launches astonishing attack on Deborah Lipstadt after she criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour

Dr Lipstadt said Labour had caused a rise in ‘softcore’ Holocaust denial

Jewish Labour Movement chair Ivor Caplin has launched an astonishing attack on Holocaust historian Dr Deborah Lipstadt, after she suggested the Labour Party were responsible for the rise of “softcore” Shoah denial.

In an interview on LBC with presenter Nick Ferrari, Mr Caplin suggested there are “too many people who are outside the Labour Party like an American academic who come over and say this”.

Mr Ferrari asked if Dr Lipstadt was correct in her observations on the rise of antisemitism both within Labour and in wider British society, which she made during a speech at Monday’s Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) conference in Westminster.

Mr Caplin said: “No, no, she is not.”

He also appeared to suggest that here had been significant progress in the fight against antisemitism within Jeremy Corbyn’s party since Mr Caplin took over as JLM chair just weeks ago.

Listen to the interview below

He told the LBC presenter: “Is there a problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party? Yes there is.

“Are we trying to deal with it? Yes we are. Nick, you have to make small steps to make bigger steps.

“I picked up this battle just two or three weeks ago as chair of the Jewish Labour Movement.

“There have been extensive discussions about how we deal with antisemitism and get it right.

“And I am already starting to see the small steps that I wanted to see in month one.”

Having heard the LBC interview with Mr Caplin, one senior JLM official told the JC: “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It actually made me feel sick.”

Mr Caplin did his radio interview on Tuesday, a day after he attended a meeting with Labour Party General Secretary Jennie Formby where he was shown the party’s controversial new guidelines on antisemitism.

But during his LBC appearance, Mr Caplin seemed to be pleased with the message he had been given by Ms Formby.

He told Mr Ferrari: “I think we are starting to see the progress I wanted to see.”

Dr Deborah Lipstadt
Dr Deborah Lipstadt (Photo: Getty Images)

Speaking at the (HET) conference on Monday, Dr Lipstadt said antisemitism has become “embedded” in Labour and it has become more socially acceptable to “make a crack” at a dinner party about Jews.

Dr Lipstadt, who won a legal battle against historian David Irving in 2000 after he sued for libel when she labelled him a Holocaust denier, said her victory had weakened what she described as “hardcore” Holocaust denial but said we were now witnessing  a “softcore” form of the same.

Arguing that the Labour Party had played a part in the rise of this “softcore” form of denial, she said: “You have a former mayor here in London [Ken Livingstone] who would talk about the cooperation between the Zionists and the Nazis.

“He took one little historical fact and blew it up into something that never existed, completely twisted the truth. Irrespective of how you feel about him politically, it’s historically rubbish.”

She also suggested that Mr Corbyn is at best “blind to overt manifestations of antisemitism”, referring to his questioning of a London council’s decision to destroy an antisemitic mural which depicted a group of Jewish bankers counting money.

Mr Caplin, a former defence minister in Tony Blair’s government, was confirmed as JLM chair in June.

A former Labour MP for Hove, in Sussex until 2005, Mr Caplin replaced former chair Jeremy Newmark after he resigned earlier this year.

Comments (4)

  • Thank you for this very helpful summary of what our enemies are saying! Can I just correct one thing? Unless he has changed his name the editor of the Jewish Chronicle is Stephen Pollard NOT Sydney Pollard. [Thanks. This has now beeen corrected – web ed.]

    Labour Against the Witchhunt is at the moment debating this matter internally and I will be doing a blog on this. I think it would be good if maybe we can set up a debate between JVL and LAW and others as this is something that is of concern to far more people than just ourselves and our own reaction may be crucial. to what happens to the Antisemitism witchhunt

  • Philiph35 says:

    “Elders” is not, I think, a very commonly-used word. Here it has overtones of the (Protocol of the) Elders of Zion and the Councils of Elders in the Judenraten. Was it really an appropriate choice?

    [Really? We were using it to mean what it says: older – and probably “more fuddy-duddy,reactionary and out-of-touch” – members of the community who arrogate to themselves the right to speak for us all. Web ed.]

  • I have in fact posted a lengthy blog article on my reaction, which I think is the consensus view within Labour Against Witchhunt.

    People may be interested in reading it

  • philiph35 says:

    “Thank you for this very helpful summary of what our enemies are saying!”. I find “enemies” sadly strong too.

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