On 15 November Southwark NUT agreed a motion proposed by a member or sympathiser of the Weekly Worker grouplet. The motion (attached) passed with ten votes in favour, to my vote against, and a couple of abstentions. It will be submitted by Southwark NUT to our annual conference.
The WW leaders – notorious liars with malleable politics - are currently positioning themselves as the go-to people for ‘left’ antisemites, defending Livingstone - amongst others - against justifiable charges of antisemitism.
These people organised a provocation at the recent Labour Party conference when they leafleted a large meeting of the Labour right with a leaflet that quoted Reinhard Heydrich, a leading Nazi architect of the Holocaust, to ‘prove’ a supportive Nazi-Zionist link.
As if Heydrich could be quoted as an honest source of facts on the Jews. And as if it was normal for a socialist to bring the views of a Nazi mass murderer into an argument to support their position. The problem with the motion is – firstly - that it an amalgam. It appears, initially, as a motion in support of the Palestinians, castigating Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinian children, for example. However it is nothing of the sort. The proposals at the end of the motion have nothing to say about the Palestinian cause. In fact real Palestinian suffering and oppression are being used rally support for something very different.
These people want “free speech on Israel” and want “recognition of Palestine” (naturally, with borders unspecified, because the authors are a little coy about saying they want to see Israel abolished). They complain that their right to free speech is being curtailed by official support for a widely used International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which, they claim, labels critics of Israel as antisemites.
The motion states that “[I]f valid criticism of Israel is labelled as anti-Semitic then the term is debased.” By avoiding the question of what constitutes valid criticism the authors dodge the issue: in fact much of what is considered as “valid” criticism of Israel, on the British left, is antisemitic. Demonisation of “Zionists”, demands for Palestinian freedom “From the River to the Sea”, placards supporting Hezbollah and a boycott campaign as all symptoms of a disease on the UK left.
Seemingly those that voted for the motion can’t read. The IHRA definition contains this sentence: “[C]riticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
“Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include …. Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
The IHRA statement is measured, calm, balanced and perfectly reasonable. The IHRA simply demand that Israel be measured against the same standards as other states.
Unions which take a stand against the IHRA definition will discredit themselves.
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