No need to worry about the IHRA definition – it can’t possibly be abused…

JVL Introduction

The IHRA definition is constantly being sold to us as just dandy.  Its words “taking into account the overall context” in assessing whether something is antisemitic or not are guaranteed to prevent abuse…

Only they don’t.

Two Labour Party CLPs in east London are now banning discussion of motions to support a charity bicycle ride to raise funds for Palestinian children.

Just read that again: banning discussion of motions to support a charity bicycle ride to raise funds for Palestinian children…

No, clearly the IHRA definition does not have a chilling effect.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Sat 5 Dec 2020. Read the original here.

Two CLPs rule motion on bike-ride to raise funds for Palestinian kids ‘out of order’ because of David Evans’s ‘instructions’

SKWAWKBOX (SW)
According to the East London Palestine Solidarity Campaign (ELPSC), two local Labour parties in the area banned motions put forward by members to support a charity bicycle ride to raise funds for Palestinian children – and attributed the ban to instructions from Labour’s acting general secretary David Evans.

An ELPSC statement elaborates:

East London Palestine Solidarity Campaign understands that two local Constituency Labour Parties, Bethnal Green & Bow CLP, and Poplar & Limehouse CLP, have ruled motions in support of the “Big Ride for Palestine”, a charity event in aid of Palestinian children, as “out of order” under instructions issued to CLPs by Labour’s general secretary, David Evans.

In 2019, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, received email correspondence between council officers in Tower Hamlets, following a Freedom of Information request (FOI). The correspondence revealed that officers had refused permission for the “Big Ride”, citing the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “working definition” of antisemitism. The IHRA “working definition” has no legal status.

The motion in support of the Big Ride for Palestine (attached) was submitted to the CLPs in November 2019. Due to suspension of Labour Party meetings during the pandemic, the motions were referred back to the CLPs for resubmission last month. Members were assured this was merely procedural.

However, hours before branch meetings were due to be held in December, members were informed the motion in support of the Big Ride, had been ruled “out of order” and could not be discussed. This fell under the same prohibition of motions regarding party democracy, and reinstatement of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.

East London Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemns any decision that prohibits discussion or support for a motion in support of a charity event in aid of Palestine by the Labour Party.

Last year, the Palestine Solidarity campaign warned that the adoption of the non-legally binding, IHRA “working definition” of antisemitism risked a chilling effect and suppression of solidarity with Palestine. Our proposed caveats, guaranteeing free speech on Palestine, were rejected by Tower Hamlets council.

Our warnings and worst fears have proven justified. The debate inside the Labour Party and the adoption of the IHRA “working definition” on antisemitism now appear to be the premise for prohibiting discussion and motions on Palestine solidarity campaigns

Evans committed last month to implementing in full the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) report on Islamophobia in the Labour party, though there have been no signs of any suspensions of Labour MPs and others for attacks on Palestinians’ right of self-determination, which the LMN report states is Islamophobic.

It seems that Evans’s commitment is not protecting Palestinian children either or activities to try to help them, either.


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Comments (17)

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    Why is David Evans acting like a dictator. How dare he prevent support for charity events for Palestinian children. That is decidedly racist and is contrary to the Race Relations Act. If he claims that anything in support for Palestine would offend Jewish members of the Party, he must specify which members and why their being ‘offended ‘ would d prevent support for human rights. And he needs reminding that many Jewish members also support Palestinian rights and that his actions and dictate are highly offensive to them and to Palestinians and the vast majority of members in the party.

  • Paul Smith says:

    Early days yet. Steve Reed, Shadow Minister of Communities and Local Government, told the BoD earlier in the year that he would ask all Labour councils to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples. Has anyone in the current leadership criticised Williamson’s pressure on universities to adopt the same? Next it will be incorporated in the party’s rules. And then?

  • Dieter Woodbine says:

    Why will no one show us the actual wording of the rejected motion?

    What is Skwawkbox trying to hide?

    I’m done taking those trouble makers at face value. Show us the motion and let us decide whether or not it breaches Labour Party rules on antisemitism.

  • Linda says:

    David Evans is reported as having made the original decision to suspend Corbyn within minutes and without consulting anyone inside Labour except a lawyer. There must surely have been senior advisors within Labour whom Evans could lawfully consult before taking such a big, risky decision … but seemingly he didn’t. So Evans is now out on a limb, knowing that Starmer’s best option to protect his own job may well be to encourage Evans’ resignation.

    In these circumstances, I can quite understand why Evans might feel his own best option is to SCARE the opposition to him into retreat. The scare tactics aren’t working. If Starmer intervened more actively to support Evans it seems likely that doing so would be at significant cost to the Labour leader without necessarily being of much use to Evans.

    I think Evans may lose his battle. Eight out of the 12 union affiliates oppose what Evans has done … and the unions are important sources of party funding and organisation. Already 73 CLPs (out of the 648) have resisted the Evans instructions – these CLPs are scattered across the UK and it seems probable their local examples will “seed” yet more resistance.

  • Christopher Wortley says:

    The words ‘always with the oppressed not the oppressors ‘
    Is what we would all hopefully agree with. The violation of human rights, wherever they may occur, is wrong and us wanting to help the victims of such crimes is what is called empathy. For someone to instruct us that we should not have empathy is in my opinion, a crime and immoral.

  • Stephen Williams says:

    I appreciate that members of the PLP are under enormous pressure but failure to respond to this even in the most general terms would be unforgiveable. Will no one be brave enough to issue a statement supporting charitable work with Palestinian children? There comes a stage when the leadership will find it difficult to escape accusations of callous bigotry.
    The killing of a thirteen year-old on Friday would provide a suitable reason for someone, anyone, to remind her/his constituents of the problems facing children under Occupation.

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    Well, just as we think we have seen examples of depravity that cannot be plumbed any deeper…! Almost beyond belief.

  • Martyn Meacham says:

    Evans is not fit to have the position he holds, he has obviously been bought and paid for. Same as Starmer and the rest of his cronies. They must be kicked out of the Labour Party.

  • Ian Kemp says:

    David Evans a old Blairite needs to be removed. He is a autocrat. He does not understand democracy

  • Angie Hudson says:

    The article doesn’t make clear whether David Evan, or his officers in London Region ruled the motion out of order or whether it was the Chairs of the meetings. Either way it is clearly racist and needs to reported – though as I write this I am unclear to whom. At least a complaint to the Party. Offence doesn’t come into it.

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    Mr Evans’ behaviour is offensive to any human being who stands in solidarity with and supports people who suffer discrimination, effects of wars, poverty and destitution.
    It seems also that both he and his posse lack understanding of Labour Values and principles. They either learn quickly or they step back.

  • Harry Law says:

    I think more and more legal challenges are necessary to force decisions based on the IHRA to be overturned.
    Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have taken legal advice and surprise, surprise they are told the Council have acted illegally, full details below….
    “We have taken legal advice and have been informed that the decision was unlawful. Most fundamentally, the Council’s decision constituted an unlawful interference with the freedoms of expression, assembly and conscience combined with a misapplication of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism”. https://www.palestinecampaign.org/psc-responds-to-ihra-being-used-to-shut-down-big-ride-for-palestine-event/

    “In particular, any interference in the rights of freedom of expression and assembly must be justified in a manner that is “convincingly established” and those rights protect not just information and ideas that is regarded as inoffensive, but also those that may “offend, shock or disturb the State or sector of the population”. And while public authorities should, of course, restrict or prohibit those events that meet the test of being “a direct or indirect call for violence or as a justification of violence, hatred or intolerance”, the issues at play in this case are not, in our view, matters that in any way meet this test or that even should “offend, shock or disturb”. As indicated, the concerns raised by your officers in your email exchanges regarding possible violations of the IHRA are that on the website references are made to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and comparisons between South African apartheid and Israel’s oppression. These are narratives endorsed by a wide range of historians, human rights monitoring bodies and political commentators” More on legal opinion in link above..

  • Harry Law says:

    Paul Smith… “Steve Reed, Shadow Minister of Communities and Local Government, told the BoD earlier in the year that he would ask all Labour councils to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples”.
    If that happened all that need be done is a person or group to arrange an anodyne meeting on Palestinian rights or Israeli misdeeds in a Labour Council owned venue and challenge any resulting ban through the local courts, the council being both in breach of the Human Rights Act UK and a misapplication of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism” as described in my comment above.

  • Harry Law says:

    Further to my reply to Paul Smith since the Labour party is an unincorporated Association its members are not protected by the Human Rights Act, whereas a Labour controlled Council is a Public body subject to the whole of the Human Rights Act.

  • Paul Smith says:

    Moreover, has any Shadow Cabinet member protested at the ceaseless harassment, destruction and expropriation of property, and killing of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Jerusalem? Not to mention the Gaza open prison. A silence has fallen over the issue.

  • Stephen Richards says:

    What happens when criticism of Israel or the accusation that Israel is an apartheid State & therefore a racist endeavour becomes illegal & defined as ‘hate speech’. Oh the irony! The ground is being prepared.

  • steve mitchell says:

    Will the Labour Party expel the TUC who are quite clear Israel is an apartheid state

Comments are now closed.