LONDON — The U.K. Labour party’s ruling body on Tuesday adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s anti-Semitism examples in full, but also issued a statement emphasizing freedom of expression when discussing Middle Eastern politics.
In a move it hopes will draw a line under a summer of in-fighting over accusations of anti-Semitism within the party, the National Executive Committee bowed to pressure from some Labour MPs by accepting the definition — which includes contemporary examples of Jewish hatred — but issued the free speech compromise statement in parallel.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced sustained pressure for what some Jewish groups and Labour MPs see as his failure to get rid of anti-Semitism in the party. But Corbyn supporters, some of whom protested outside Tuesday’s NEC meeting, argue the full definition restricts freedom of speech, and in particular the freedom to criticize the Israeli government.
A Labour spokesperson said: “The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.
“The NEC welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s statement to the meeting about action against anti-Semitism, solidarity with the Jewish community and protection of Palestinian rights, as an important contribution to the consultation on Labour’s Code of Conduct.”
However, the campaign group Labour Against Anti-Semitism said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the decision to attach the additional statement, which it said “risks giving racists in the party a get out of jail card.”
“There can be no caveats, no conditions and no compromises with racism, and it is an ongoing disgrace that the Labour party appears incapable of simply doing the right thing. Until it does, this crisis will continue to destroy the fundamental integrity of the whole Labour movement,” the statement said.