British Labour Party to adopt new anti-Semitism rules

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned party must solve anti-Semitism problem or be unable to win elections.

Gary Willig,

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Britain's Labour Party announced Tuesday that it will adopt new rules to combat anti-Semitism within its ranks.

The rules add a commitment to act on “incidents involving racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harrassment, bullying or any form of intimidation”

The decision follows a heated debate within the party over its hosting of a speaker who said that Holocaust denial should be allowed.

The Labour Party has faced accusations of anti-Semitism since its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was elected. Corbyn has called the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations his 'friends,' compared Israel to ISIS, and has maintained a long-standing relationship with Holocaust denier Paul Eisen.

The new rules to combat anti-Semitism were proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) following a speech by radical anti-Israel activist Miko Peled, himself Israeli-born, at a Labour event in which Peled said that there should be no limits on people's ability to question whether the Holocaust actually happened.

Delegate Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who chaired the event at which Peled spoke Monday night and who founded the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Labour, accused the JLM of acting like thought-police, The Guardian reported.

"Holding them? That’s thought crime, comrades, and we can’t be having it,” she said.

Other anti-Israel activists attempted to insert a change to the rules to allow describing atii-Zionism as "legitimate political discourse" unrelated to anti-Semitism.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn supported the new rules after a narrowly defeated Labour candidate and JLM member Mike Katz warned him that the party could not win elections as long as Jewish voters fled to other parties because they feel that Labour is anti-Semitic.

"This spirit of our rule change is that it is outrageous there is nothing in our rule book that explicitly makes bullying, discrimination and harassment of ethnic minorities an offence. If you support another party, you are out. If you engage in hate speech, it is not so clear,” Katz said.

“This rule change puts it right. Repairing the once-strong relationship between our party and the Jewish community, with so many shared values, is a political imperative as well as a moral one.

“Some people say we are trying to weaponise anti-Semitism or stifle criticism of Israel. Let’s be clear: there is nothing wrong with legitimate criticism of the Israeli government and illegal settlements. JLM members do it all the time, in strident debate. But you do not need anti-Semitic language and stereotypes to engage in those debates. That is what we need to deal with.”

Some party activists felt that the new rules do not go far enough in combating anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

Zach Murrell-Dowson, a delegate from Bristol North West, said: “Jewish members have seen Labour party members share anti-Semitic cartoons or talk about an all-powerful Jewish lobby. Those who say they have been silenced merely for criticism of the Israeli government are simply wrong. We can and should have free speech on Israel, but we must confront anti-Semitism in our party.”