Huge list of BAME orgs challenge Labour to defend all rights equally by resisting IHRA ‘suppression’

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Right-wing groups continue to attempt to pressurise the Labour Party into amending its ‘gold standard’ Code of Conduct by fully incorporating examples in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism.

Many – including the definition’s creator, UK legal experts and a retired judge – believe the examples that Labour clarified and/or caveated can, without such caveats, be abused to suppress free speech and to deprive Palestinians of the right to fully discuss their own oppression by the Israeli government.

Shamefully, a number of more right-leaning union leaders have added their voice to those calls for the examples to be fully incorporated without the clarifications, even though the official position of their unions is to support the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign – a position that at least one council has outlawed by misapplying the IHRA examples.

But now a huge list of organisations representing BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) citizens have pushed back, telling Labour that the adoption of the examples will suppress their free speech and perpetuate injustices perpetrated on them.

The push-back comes in the form of an open letter to the Independent – one that represents a challenge to the party to defend the rights of BAME groups, including Palestinians, with the same vigour that is being exercised on the issue of antisemitism.

In key passages the eighty-four groups, including Black Lives Matter, Justice for Grenfell and a host of others, tell the country and politicians to protect the rights of all UK citizens and residents equally:

We are deeply worried about current attempts to silence a public discussion of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948, when the majority of its people were forcibly expelled. These facts are well established and accessible, are part of the British historical record, as well as the direct experience of the Palestinian people themselves. The Palestinian community in the UK has raised the disturbing absence of key information about these past and current injustices, and highlighted the racism it exposes then and now.

Public discussion of these facts, and a description of these injustices, would be prohibited under the IHRA’s guidelines, and therefore withholds vital knowledge from the public…

We urgently remind politicians and public bodies of their responsibilities to uphold the principles of the Human Rights Act for every British citizen and resident in the UK equally, especially the direct victims of colonialism, racism, and discrimination. As migrant and BAME communities we stand as one, united against all attempts to suppress our voices and our calls for justice, freedom and equality.

Will unions and the NEC answer their challenge and defend Labour’s ‘gold standard’ Code of Conduct against attempts to force change?

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  1. Absolutely!!. Adoption of the IHRA code would be a massive retrograde step, serving only to obscure the vile acts of a racist colonial regime. But perhaps even more importantly, it would be dangerously undemocratic, forcing silence on those who suffer racial oppression both in Britain and abroad.

    I’m hoping that the open letter will mark a sea-change in the Labour Party’s orientation and that it will serve the cause of open debate, ending the absurd witch-hunt of people like Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker.

  2. Extremely persuasive argument for a thorough re-examination of anti-racism and freedom of speech from basic principles to legislation – equality being anathema to Conservatism it’s our clear duty to drive this forward, ensure the effectiveness of legislation and institutions by avoiding the inevitable Tory fudge-upping.

    Ironic that the AS-mongers’ last option – and hopefully their last stand – will be their fight against the strengthening of anti-racist legislation.

  3. Brilliant and very moving and inspiring.
    Diverse working people of the World Unite!

  4. Is the full IHRA code open to legal action within UK law? I believe it is, if so, the Labour party cannot adopt it without caveat as they would open themselves to legal action.

  5. The BAME community from which these groups derive is about 8 million citizens, their concerns are supported by 40 International Jewish groups, legal experts, academics and the author himself, Kenneth Stern. I hope the Labour HQ and media will give them all as much attention as to the self-proclaimed right-wing Jewish community leaders claiming to represent the views of most of the 270 000 Jewish citizens.

  6. It’s evident now that the IHRA definition itself even without the examples, is a travesty and was knitted together as a fishing net to ensnare anyone who attempts to highlight the fallacy that a group of European colonists with zero connections to Palestine had the right to take upon themselves the authority to establish a mono religious State in someone else’s territory. Of course, they didn’t have any such right or authority and proceeded to pursue their objective using the most extreme terrorism.

    This is the elephant in the room which the Zionists, under no circumstances want discussed. To do so would throw light on how Israel was formed and the violence used to drive the Palestinians, who many geneticists believe are the decedents of the original Hebrews, off their land.

    Even President Trueman recognised the injustice of such an enterprise. When he was asked to sign his approval of the Israeli declaration of independence as a ‘Jewish’ state, he took out his pen and crossed out the word JEWISH.

    1. The definition was written as an aid to collecting statistics on the incidence of antisemitism. “According to Stern it had originally been designed as a ”working definition” for the purpose of trying to standardise data collection about the incidence of antisemitic hate crime in different countries. It had never been intended that it be used as legal or regulatory device to curb academic or political free speech. Yet that is how it has now come to be used. In the same document Stern specifically condemns as inappropriate the use of the definition for such purposes”

      1. Liz3321, thanks for the link. I just wonder if even for the purposes of academic research the net had been opened too wide.

  7. Thanks Maria. Jonathan Cook has a unique way of getting directly to the core in a way that few others have. I do hope that Jeremy Corbyn reads the piece in that link.

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