Model Motion in Defence of the NEC Antisemitism Code of Conduct



JVL introduction

Right-wingers in the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s enemies within and outside have launched a concerted attack on the leadership over the NEC’s adoption of a new code of conduct on antisemitism. There is much scope for detailed discussion about the content of the code, but the attacks upon it as if it were a licence for rampant Jew-hatred are entirely unfounded. JVL recommends that CLPs, branches, and affiliated trade unions and socialist societies should adopt supportive motions along the following lines.

[posted 21 July 2018; last modified 22 July; clarified 18 Aug]

Model motion

This CLP welcomes the NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism as giving clearer and stronger guidance than previous codes and definitions on what antisemitism is and what it is not.

We note that the NEC code

  1. states emphatically: “Labour is an anti-racist party. Antisemitism is racism. It is unacceptable in our Party and in wider society.”
  2. fully incorporates the 38-word International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and clarifies the controversial aspects of guidance notes attached to it
  3. emphasises the vital distinction between
    i) antisemitism, properly understood as hostility or hatred directed at Jews; and
    ii) legitimate criticism of the state of Israel or the ideology of Zionism
  4. confirms that opinion about Israel, Palestine and Zionism may be judged to be racist where there is evidence of antisemitic intent.
  5. is consistent with the MacPherson recommendations in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry: allegations must be taken seriously, and investigated in accord with due process
  6. commits to protecting freedom of expression, including contentious opinions, as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998. This includes opinions about Israel and its policies, and about political strategies seeking to influence them.

This CLP therefore calls on the NEC to:

  • resist pressure to adopt the full list of examples attached to the IHRA
    definition of antisemitism and stand by its Code of Conduct on Antisemitism;
  • include a broader range of Jewish opinion in any further consultations; and
  • mobilise to fight the alarming rise of racism of all kinds in the UK and abroad.

Supporting argument

The shortcoming of the IHRA document have been the subject of multiple critical comments from Jewish scholars and commentators since it was first adopted by the Conservative Government in December 2016. These are Jews who really care about combating antisemitism, and freedom of speech, and dealing with rising far-right racism of all kinds. The latter two seem to be of no concern to those attacking the Labour leadership.

Since the Code was made public we have seen the Global Jewish Statement, released to media on July 17, in which 40 Jewish organisations in 15 countries oppose the IHRA for its negative impact on a clear understanding of antisemitism and its role in suppressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Brian Klug, a leading authority on antisemitism, discusses the Labour NEC code of conduct, comparing it favourably with the IHRA document and explaining why the latter is being held up as a sacred text.

The Institute of Race Relations explains that the MacPherson principle specifically does not give members of an ethnic or religious group the sole right to determine what is or is not racist conduct.

This briefing from Jewish Voice for Labour was sent to all Labour MPs and NEC members.

Antony Lerman, another leading authority on antisemitism, discusses the NEC code and reaction to it.

Portraying British Jews as one monolithic bloc all determined to police what may or may not be said about Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians is dangerous and wrong. Such a portrayal is antisemitic!








Comments (6)

  • Steven B says:

    “fully incorporates the 38-word International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism”

    that the IHRA has a 38 (or 39) word definition is a myth.

    definitions can not be indefinite.

    There is no definition. There is only a text that does not reach the standards of a definition: a pseudodefinition.

    That the right wing and JLM are spreading myths shouldnt mean left wing people should join in.

    Of course the Examples suck.

    Of course the examples arent part of the pseudodefinition: Look at the original press release.

    Everyone of good intentions and good conscience should stop deceiving and condoning and spreading the deceit of others.

    There’s no definition here.

    The IHRA text even says “non-legally binding” and the Labour code says “The IHRA text is not a legal definition”

  • Steven B says:

    And of course the fact that it isnt a definition means it is USELESS as a tool to diagnose anything.

    At labour HQ disciplinary team: “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews”

    “oh. which one?”

    “uh…. it doesnt say. It says it may be expressed as hatred toward JEws”

    “How do we know which perception that may be expressed toward jews as hatred it is then? Is it “jews ate all the food”? “Is it jews stole my bike?”

    “it doesnt say. Theres some examples but theyre not a part of the definition”

    “so if its any criticism of any jews, i guess we just flip a coin then?”

  • Ollie says:

    I’d be helpful if you could make and distribute some teaching material for what does constitute anti-Semitism without being accusatory of the JLM or Tories.

    There are a lot of us in the party at large that have no idea if we’re being anti-Semitic as a matter of cultural inheritance.

    I’ve read the JLM Training Session material which is available via the Labour website and found it quite informative.

  • Hilary Williams says:

    Im fully supportive of your position. We need to stand firmly behind the NEC definition and continue to speak up for the rights of the Palestinians without fear of false labelling and intimidation.

  • Rick Hayward says:

    Note that The Guardian is flying the following kite :

    “Labour prepares the ground for compromise on antisemitism code”

    Problem is : there is no such thing as ‘compromise’ on this one – only capitulation to ‘The Lobby’.

    You can guarantee that any such ‘compromise’ will open the door to shutting down criticism of Israel and political Zionism, and continuing damaging conflation of antisemitism with such criticism.

  • Steven Garside says:

    With reports today suggesting Labour’s NEC will adopt the IHRA examples in full – the obvious question to be asked is what now?

    First of all we can all now be honest. Corbyn has been less than useless over the issue, conceding more and more ground – up to and including it seems even the very right to call Israel racist. For a patron of PSC this is shameful.

    The vile personal attacks on him should not blunt our anger at this personal failure to stand up for the Palestinian cause. I for one am tired of the demand that we ‘defend Corbyn’ when he has concerned himself entirely with Zionist sensibilities and winning over the ‘respectable’ Jewish establishment of the Board of Deputies – even throwing a Holocaust survivor under a bus in the process. Where have the Palestinian voices been in this whole debate?

    Corbyn and the NEC will doubtless point to some ‘guarantees’ of free speech that the NEC will work into Labour’s Code – guarantees which are obviously incompatible with IHRA. The right will doubtless object to these and demand completely ‘unqualified’ and ‘unconditional’ acceptance of the IHRA examples – thus revealing the truth that it is Israel not anti-Semitism they have been concerned about all along.

    A grassroots campaign must now begin under a new umbrella group – uniting all those opposed to IHRA – to take the fight up inside CLP’s, to party conference and back to the NEC. A legal fund to fight IHRA under the Human Rights Act might also be an option. I hope JVL will give their support to such moves.

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