Who are missing from the EHRC Report?

Introduction

We are well aware that the EHRC was charged with investigating antisemitism in the Labour Party. It is our contention that this cannot be done meaningfully without placing it is a wider context of racism more generally, in the party and society. So, the Report’s failure to look at how antisemitism cases have been treated in comparison with other cases of racism is a severe failing.

As Jewish activists we are acutely aware of the widespread prevalence in our society of, in particular, Islamophobia and of anti-Black racism highlighted by Black Lives Matter and the Windrush Affair, on the other. In these circumstances, and as a matter of principle, there is a terrible danger of singling out antisemitism from other forms of racism as if we were in a racism Olympics as to which group suffers most. We want to stress, once again, the importance of treating all forms of racism – including antisemitism – together, as well as in their specificities

______________

Yet again we have the airwaves, print and digital media consumed by the allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party; the whole of Thursday’s Newsnight and one of the top two items on every news bulletin. However, once again the experiences of Palestinian – and, indeed of Black and Asian people – are not addressed.

For example, it may be a coincidence but there have been serious consequences from releasing this long-awaited report from the EHRC less than 48 hours after the Report and recommendations made by Doreen Lawrence Review. This Review, commissioned by Keir Starmer, looked into the disproportionate impact of COVID on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Its final section is entitled “Ending Structural Racism”. This Report has been almost entirely eclipsed in the media by the EHRC’s Report.

The difference in levels of media coverage is staggering. We are left with the potentially dangerous conclusion that the EHRC Report – not even on antisemitism but about how complaints of antisemitism have been dealt with – is deemed to be of more interest to the public than the fact that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities have a COVID death rate four times that of other groups. It is the deep and extensive structural racism across the whole of our society that means they are disproportionately represented in high risk front line occupations.

And if Black and Asian people are missing from the narrative, so too are Palestinians. The dominance of the issue of Labour Party antisemitism over the past 5 years, the “impossible to resist” adoption of the IHRA’s working definition on antisemitism, with all its 11 examples, have led to the near impossibility of Palestinians’ experience of racism at the hands of the Israeli State being given the attention it needs.

The people most active in continually raising the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party were largely, but not exclusively, supporters of Israel. Those accused and their defenders were largely, but again not exclusively, defenders of Palestinian rights. The pro-Israel lobby in the UK is highly professional, well-resourced, and has much more support in the print and broadcast media than the pro-Palestinian lobby which largely relies on social media to campaign.

Social media can be ill-disciplined and we recognise that some posts fell into antisemitic stances which were, rightly, condemned as being wrong in themselves and unhelpful to the cause they wished to support. What has also not been given any attention is the torrent of abuse aimed by Israel’s supporters at their opponents which was never, in our experience, challenged from their side; indeed each post seemed only to inspire further and more wounding insults in some sort of grizzly competition.

Jewish supporters of Palestinian rights seemed particularly targeted and sometimes dismissed as “not really Jews” (as in JINOs -“Jews in name only”) and even as kapos. We are not aware of any complaints made about this being upheld and we consider such accusations to be deeply antisemitic.

JVL will publish our detailed and thoughtful critical analysis of the EHRC report shortly. The purpose of this statement is to emphasise the importance of hearing Palestinian voices and allies speaking and acting in support of justice for Palestinians. British Palestinians issued a statement to the Labour Party about this and could not get any Labour Party journal to publish it.

We would hope that the mainstream media and the Labour Party will be as unflinching and relentless in their commitment to expose the lack of justice and equality for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic members of our community, including Palestinians, as they have been in pursuing this agenda. May they do this without the distortions that have characterised their supposed concerns for Jewish people.

* Those prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps whose job was to brutally make prisoners do forced labour

 

Links to all JVL statements and other articles on the EHRC report

Comments (26)

  • DJ says:

    Totally agree with this statement. The MSM and the organs of the right wing in the party are totally deaf to the voices of the Palestinians. The hurt caused to many of their Jewish supporters has been totally ignored. The disgusting attacks against Jewish advocates of justice for the Palestinians is sickening. Those responsible should hang their heads up in shame

  • dave says:

    This is all pointing to what I keep saying (and also Tony Greenstein and others) – that this is nothing to do with antisemitism as it is properly defined. I hope you will make that a prominent part of your analysis.

  • DJ says:

    Keep going JVL. Eventually the “penny will drop” with some in the Labour Party who can’t see the “woods from the trees”.Those who vilify and slander Jeremy Corbyn are not interested in fighting anti semitism or any other form of racism. The EHRC is a discredited organisation which has not addressed many aspects of racism which afflict British society. The Tory government is happy to let it investigate the Labour Party so long as it doesn’t stray into any investigation of its racist policies

  • Kuhnberg says:

    [Two corrections made to the post below at the request of the author]

    I am afraid that we are seeing the imposition of a blanket form of censorship on any speech in support of targets unpopular with the establishment, not just the Palestinians or black people, but left-wingers who have not wholly surrendered to the blackmail and blandishments of the establishment. The Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPS may think they are safe for the moment, so long as they avoid voicing any direct support for Corbyn or his observation that the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party has been willfully exaggerated by those who wish, for whatever reason, to attack it. They are wrong; what has been done to Corbyn will be done to them in due course, unless they toe the line and renounce any interest in true socialist policies like wealth distribution.

    This morning I attempted to post a comment below the line on the Guardian website to the effect that Corbyn’s only crime was to voice an inconvenient truth. The comment was moderated within seconds. There are things that one is simply not allowed to say. And yet the most vicious, disgusting and menacing attacks on left-wingers — Corbyn’s wife, for example — go unmoderated and unchallenged. This is as bad a situation as I have ever witnessed in my seventy six years of life, and I fear it is about to get much worse. The few brave and truthful sites like the Squawkbox and the Canary are essentially preaching to the converted. It may be several decades before the truth about this ugly time is widely recognised — and yet for those who can see it, it is as plain as day.

  • DO says:

    Look at the way Miliband was treat by Labour, disgusting vocal attacks in the Jewish Chronicle from John Mann MP etc. Backstabbing remarks and insults from the same MP’s who straight away did the same with Corbyn. No, we need to look with better eyes and at a bigger picture, when the recent report was primarily instigated by the CAA. In my eyes the EHRC should have shown a little caution in taking their word as totally valid. The EHRC should be asked to comment on the CAA’s celebratory ‘We have killed the beast’ video on Youtube. That in itself paints a very ugly picture.

  • Alan Maddison says:

    In a zoom meeting John McDonnell said the number of antisemites in Labour does not matter. Though I agree one is too many, the fact that there is no evidence to support the relentless claims of a widespread problem (‘infested with Jew haters’ or ‘ a cess-pit of antisemitism’ ) is crucial.

    Otherwise why was Labour singled out?

    Jeremy was right to clarify the disgraceful political exaggerations influencing voter perceptions, and that complaints were made against only 0.24% of members.
    What he didn’t say was that very few complaints came from victims, the vast majority from internet trawls going back to 2014.

    So the question that is who exaggerated the ‘ Labour antisemitism problem’ and why.

    And why do Jeremy’s PLP supporters never dare ask?

  • RC says:

    The absence of Palestinians in particular is grotesquely in the ‘Israel history’ section of No Place for antiSemitism. The nakba is completely absent (wiped out?) from this section, as of course is the massive and increasing history of oppression and discrimination..
    The difference between holocaust denial and nakba denial is that the nakba is still ongoing at the same hands who started it in (before) 1947.

  • Eileen McKnight-Smith says:

    Hi, I think I’m bit dim: could anyone of a more scholarly bent who has read the report in detail please tell me how many Labour people in North East England were accused of antisemitism in 2017? Or if the research wasn’t reduced to a year-by-year basis, could they tell me how many in the NE were accused during the whole 60-month period? Is there a map and a timeline or a graph/chart of the NE details – showing the hotspots of a/s in our area for targeting and training sessions etc? Sorry for being so obtuse, but it just doesn’t read like a report to me – I can’t find any statistical analysis or figures anywhere. I’m not the only one – my friend in Scotland is having problems with it as well. Thanks.

  • Edward Hill says:

    In the last week we have seen the end result of organisations collecting and submitting dodgy dossiers. I hope JVL is keeping a (genuine) file of cases determined by the IHRA definition-with-examples that have limited the rights of Palestinians (see the linked Open Letter). To this will need to be added the actions of Keir Starmer, if he fails to rein in his pro-Israel bias. It would be difficult to ultimately establish a charge of racial discrimination by the Labour Party against Palestinians, but a body known to be acting as a watchdog within the party might have some influence.
    I recommend reading David Hearst’s article ‘Suspension of Corbyn will define Starmer as Iraq defined Blair’ in ‘Middle East Eye’. (Editor, if JVL is not republishing, can you link?)

  • Infera Pound says:

    Please don’t conflate racial hatred (e.g. antisemitism) with religious hatred (e.g. islamophobia). It undermines your arguement.
    Most religions are based on racial inclusivity.

  • Graeme Wilson says:

    Disability rights are missing from EHRC report as Labour party under Corbyn and unison ensured fraud, negligence deliberately misleading public with their public exclaimations and private deals with unison.
    Ensuring hate crime against Disabled people, also have no voice in NHS and bullying in the workplace is positively promoted by Labour party and Prentis Unison

  • By insisting on ‘zero-tolerance’ of antisemitism, Corbyn and his supporters have to some extent hoisted themselves by their own petard. It sets a target that no political party could achieve, as one cannot eliminate every last prejudiced person. Alan Maddison put his finger on this problem by indicating that the bar should be set at antisemitism being a widespread, i.e. rampant, problem in relation to society at large and the other parties. Given the statistical evidence available, Labour passes this test with flying colours.

    But why do I, a non-Labour supporter, need to point out the obvious. It is time to go on the front foot and call out this unprofessional and dishonest EHRC report.

  • Michael Levine says:

    Crucial to this whole debate is the definition of anti-Semitism.
    The conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is actually very
    dangerous for Jews in general. To maintain that all Jews support
    the actions of the Israeli government can lead to hostility to all Jews
    and is therefore a contributory cause of anti-semitism.

  • Linda says:

    “This morning I attempted to post a comment below the line on the Guardian website to the effect that Corbyn’s only crime was to voice an inconvenient truth. The comment was moderated within seconds”.

    Hi … yes that’s been my experience too. “Antisemitism” posts that have instantly disappeared have included:-

    – mentions of (and links to) the leaked Labour report when comparatively few people knew of it
    – mentions of the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s disputed status as a charity (a post pointing out that the Charities Commission had been considering this point long before the EHRC report came out disappeared at the same time)
    – mentions of academic research examining the degrees of racism, antisemitism etc within the UK’s mainstream political parties

    The “Guardian” is overseen by a Board of Trustees (I think). I’ve lacked the energy to appeal to that Board and to ask the Trustees to rule whether the “Guardian” is living up to its own principles by what seems like partisan censorship of any contrary views however well-evidenced and however politely expressed.

  • DJ says:

    The other glaring omission from the EHRC report is any meaningful analysis of the degree of antisemitism in the Labour Party. No assessment of the number of complaints. How many were actually made against Labour Party members?How many were simply made by people trawling social media to find pro Palestinian statements they found offensive? How many complaints were made by individuals who were actually victims of antisemitism. The lack of real evidence and facts is astonishing. What was the point of this so called investigation?

  • Allan Howard says:

    The reason Jeremy’s PLP supporters don’t ask Alan – let alone ‘dare ask’ – is because they know of course. How could they not. I mean if just about everyone on the left knows it, then it goes without saying that they do too.

    And as for what Kuhnberg said about the Socialist Campaign group of MPs, they will of COURSE be wary about backing up Jeremy’s observation that the extent of anti-semitism in the party has been grossly exaggerated given that he was just suspended for doing so, and I’m not quite sure what s/he means by ‘direct support’ for Jeremy. As reported in a BBC News article on the day Jeremy was supported it says the folowing:

    But groups on the left of the Labour movement attacked the decision to suspend him.

    The Socialist Campaign Group said it “firmly” opposed the move, adding: “We will work tirelessly for his reinstatement.”

    And Momentum, among Mr Corbyn’s strongest backers, said: “It is a massive attack on the left by the new leadership and should be immediately lifted in the interests of party unity.”

    Seems pretty direct and unambiguous to me!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54730425

  • Nigel Haines says:

    You can imagine how pleased I feel that are some people such as yourselves in the Jewish community who continue to uphold the long standing, honourable tradition of those in your community who have fought tooth and nail for socialist ideas and social justice for ALL, against those who join with the likes of the “Daily Mail” and others to besmirch Jeremy. Well done.

  • Jacob Butler says:

    What else is missing from the EHRC report?
    The evidence that there were thousands of complaints does not seem to have been looked at closely but just taken for granted. The focus has been on how these were dealt with, not on the nature and origin of the complaints themselves.
    Surely an enquiry should start with the evidence?

  • You say no Labour party journal would print a British Palestinian statement. Name them and publish any explanation or failure to respond. It’s about time we took the fight to them.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Jonathan Coulter said:

    ‘By insisting on ‘zero-tolerance’ of antisemitism, Corbyn and his supporters have to some extent hoisted themselves by their own petard. It sets a target that no political party could achieve….’

    I’m sure Jeremy is well aware that zero tolerance – ie eradicating anti-semitism from the party completely – is unachievable, as do his detractors of course, but it was obviously for public consumption – and he has of course said it on more than a few occasions in the past – and it sends out a positive message, and I don’t think anyone is going to criticise him for it, and ESPECIALLY his detractors.

    That said, ‘zero tolerance’ is one thing, and setting a goal of completely eradicating A/S from the party is another. I mean Jeremy was hardly going to say ‘2% tolerance’ was he! What he is saying – and the message he is sending out – is that it will not be tolerated whenever it arises in the LP, and he does so to counter the propagandists who would have people believe that he IS tolerant of anti-semitism.

  • Starmer should find some decency, and resign.

  • Ray says:

    It’s going to be virtually impossible to find any independent body without any bias, or political leaning to one ,or other agenda ..
    Left or right. We deserve a true and honest assessment of what has really pushed this witch-hunt .
    We deserve the whole truth about who, and why, our very democracy is being so crudely dismissed ,or undermined ..

  • Deborah Darnes says:

    I am pleased to see JVL raising the subject of the need to examine the whole subject of Racism in the Labour Party and for that matter the Conservative Party, rather than focus solely on antisemitism.

  • Mary Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for such an insightful and informative website.

  • Valerie Hey says:

    Thank you for your response- respect to all
    I am not exactly looking forward to reading it but I have,as a non- Jew, been very troubled by the reductive nature of the case against Jeremy Corbyn and the absolute relentless nature of the way the matter of as in the party has been posited and attached to those who seek a fair politics and resolution for Palestinians

  • RC says:

    Philip Wagstaffe asks for instances of Labour movement censorship of British Palestinian declarations. Neither ‘LabourList’ nor the New Statesman would publish either the many-signatures letter (text elsewhere on this website, JVL comment on ‘who is left out?’) or even acknowledge the letter or explain their refusal.
    JVL members should press these two publications to give up their exclusionary practice – even the GS calls for an inclusive party(circular to branch officers!)
    Do not forget 1944 Conference ethnic cleansing of Palestinians resolution – such a great success.

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