Confirmed: existing Code of Conduct protections still apply until strengthened one agreed

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Senior Labour insiders have confirmed that the protections of the existing Code of Conduct still apply and govern the application of the additional IHRA examples that were adopted yesterday by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

With regard to free speech on the subjects of Israel and Palestine, the key paragraphs from the Code are below – and note that the provisions of the European Court of Human Rights are specifically acknowledged:

7. An area of particular difficulty, and the subject of much academic and legal debate around the IHRA definition, is the relationship between antisemitism and criticism of the State of Israel in the context of the long-running and complex dispute about political relations in the region.
This is a dispute about which people have widely diverging and deeply held opinions, which can be closely bound with questions of personal identity. The expression of opinions on this topic can easily offend or upset people holding an opposite opinion. The European Court of Human Rights has long recognised that the principle of freedom of expression protects views which “offend, shock or disturb” society or a section of it. But the Court has also emphasised that the principle does not protect the expression of racist views or “hate speech”. Nor, as Chakrabarti made clear, should the party tolerate the expression of views in a manner simply
intended to upset or offend. A “civility of discourse” is essential. In general terms, the expression of even contentious views in this area will not be treated as antisemitism unless accompanied by specific antisemitic content (such as the use of antisemitic tropes) or by other evidence of antisemitic intent. In short, the Party will encourage considered and respectful debate on these difficult topics, but will not tolerate name-calling and abuse.

12. Article 1(2) of the 1948 UN Charter refers to “respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. The Party is clear that the Jewish people have the same right to self-determination as any other people. To deny that right is to treat the Jewish people unequally and is therefore a form of antisemitism. That does not, of course, preclude considered debate and discourse about the nature or content of the right of peoples to self-determination.
13. In contrast, discussion of the circumstances of the foundation of the Israeli State (for example, in the context of its impact on the Palestinian people) forms a legitimate part of modern political discourse. So does discussion of – including critical comment on – differential impact of Israeli laws or policies on different people within its population or that of neighbouring territories. It is not racist to assess the conduct of Israel – or indeed of any other particular State or government – against the requirements of international law or the standards of behaviour expected of democratic States (bearing in mind that these requirements and standards may themselves be contentious).
14. However, care must be taken when dealing with these topics. The fact of Israel’s description as a Jewish State does not make it permissible to hold Jewish people or institutions in general responsible for alleged misconduct on the part of that State (see paragraph 9.g.). In addition, it is wrong to apply double standards by requiring more vociferous condemnation of such actions from Jewish people or organisations than from others – a form of racist treatment also all too common in other contexts, eg. holding Muslims or Muslim organisations to a higher standard than others as regards condemnation of illegal or violent acts by self-defining “Islamic” organisations or States (such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan). It is also wrong to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
15. The term “Zionism” is intimately bound up in the history of Israel’s foundation as a State and in its role in international relations more generally. It is inevitable that the expressions “Zionism” and “Zionist” will feature in political discourse about these topics. The meaning of these expressions is itself debated. It is not antisemitism to refer to “Zionism” and “Zionists” as part of a considered discussion about the Israeli State. However, as the ChakrabartiReport
advised, it is not permissible to use “Zionist” (and still less any pejorative abbreviation such as ‘zio’ which the Chakrabarti report said should have no place in Labour Party discourse) as a code word for “Jew”. Chakrabarti recommended that Labour Party members should only use “the term `Zionist’ advisedly, carefully and never euphemistically or as part of personal abuse”. Such language may otherwise provide evidence of antisemitic intent.
16. Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent. Chakrabarti recommended that Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular. In this sensitive area, such language carries a strong risk of being regarded as prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Party within Clause 2.I.8.

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13 responses to “Confirmed: existing Code of Conduct protections still apply until strengthened one agreed

  1. I hope Margaret Hodge understands and accepts these protections in particular with regard to the requirements outlined by the Court of Human Rights.

  2. All fine and dandy, but “it is also wrong to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel……”
    But what if they demonstrably are, as a matter of revealed fact? Are we not allowed to say so?

    • Indeed. If a member of the British Jewish community is caught spying for Israel we won’t be allowed to say that he is more loyal to Israel than to the UK, because that would be anti-Semitic!
      The (much better worded) Jewish Socialist Group’s definition uses the phrase “accusing all Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel….”, which is much better, IMO.
      The precise wording on this matters!

      http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/we-must-define-antisemitism-to-fight-it-effectively

    • Perhaps you make the mistake of using “they” as though “they” are an homogenous group when plenty of the Left in Israel and here protest at the actions of the Right Wing Israeli Coalition Govt. there, perhaps “some” would be much better.
      By the way I worked out I think Netanyahu’s party out of the total population got only about 16% and depends on tiny Right and some Far Right parties.
      The most important word in this whole issue is ‘homogenous’ treating a group as though they are all the same and we need to be wary of those who claim to speak for all like some of the Conservative Jewish Groups here when they really mean they speak for some of the wonderfully diverse Jewish community or at least a significant number.
      But of course Labour members (unlike Tories and perhaps Conservative Jewish Groups) are being held to very rigorous academic standards.

  3. So in the aftermath of the NEC meeting yesterday we have the usual suspects finding fault with the outcome, but as we ALL know, THEY have an agenda. And as we ALL know, they work in concert with each-other and furnish the MSM with their phony and contrived criticisms and faux outrage, and one of the main platitudes they were dissembling yesterday – as they have repeatedly in recent months in relation to the LP and the IHRA definition – is that the Jewish community knows best. In one of his tweets yesterday, Richard Angell, for example, repeats the platitude pontificating that:

    ‘Today’s decision is an insult. Labour does not know better than Jewish people about anti-semitism.’

    But WHO, if anyone, IS best qualified to make a judgement about the IHRA definition. The person who drafted it of course – ie the author – and as all these pretenders and fakers and phonies are undoubtedly well aware HE, U.S. attorney Kenneth S. Stern, has grave misgivings about the definition AND its misuse to curb free speech, as he expressed in a written testimony to Congress on November 7th last year:

    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/why-the-man-who-drafted-the-ihra-definition-condemns-its-use/

    Please share and circulate the article as far and wide as possible and expose these anti-democratic, black propaganda saboteurs for the disgrace to humanity that they are.

    • But it could be argued that Angell falls into the trap of treating the Jewish Community as homogenous when we know Jewish socialists and progresive groups for example have a different perspective to the Conservatives. But Labour has listened to diverse opinion from a wonderfully diverse community and has tried to do the best it can.
      What Angell means in you have listened to the one perspective that I agree with so damn you!
      But academically this would be a fail, bit like their NEC bid really.

  4. It is much better and IMO your excellent comment exemplifies how the NEC might have engaged with a “working document”, before they got derailed that is.

      • And a great submission to The NEC from the Jewish Socialists’ Group – just published and available on JVL – thanks for drawing attention to this.

  5. Apologies for changing the subject, but I had been wondering – since it was widely reported on July 19th that suspects had been identified in the Sergei and Yulia Skripal (alleged) poisoning – why we hadn’t heard anything more about it in the days and weeks that followed. But today, some seven weeks later, it suddenly all kicked off again. And THEN it occured to me that the Summer recess must be over, and so I checked online, and it finished yesterday. And my point is this:

    The PTB broke the news JUST prior to the Summer recess, but have waited until NOW to follow it up so that Theresa May et al can make a big issue of it in the House of Commons. In other words, it’s ALL theatre, as was the staged poisoning itself of course. As if it would take 250 investigators SIX months anyway to check passenger flight lists from Moscow and back to Moscow and check CCTV etc. It’s totally absurd of course. And I had to laugh when I read today that Neil Basu, the head of UK counter terrorism policing, described the (alleged) assassination attempt as a “remarkably sophisticated” attack. I mean if it really HAD happened, it would go down as the most shambolic assassination attempt EVER!

  6. The right wingers within the Labour Party don’t want us to talk about things like this:

    ://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/israeli-court-rules-demolish-khan-al-ahmar-village-180905173023743.html

    How would Margaret Hodge et al defend this I wonder…

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