Wednesday, 25 April 2018

More comments on Antisemitism

Before you read on just let me state that BelperStuff (well me actually) is against all forms of racism including antisemitism. My ancestors left Africa 500,000 years ago and ---- well you can see where I'm coming from?

There has been no backlash from the last blog post relating to antisemitism in the Labour Party (yet) so here I am, once again, foolishly (I initially typed fearlessly) making further comments. I am prompted by remarks made on the BBC by the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush on BBC Newsnight speaking after he had attended the meeting with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss antisemitism in the Labour Party (link to it here). The BBC reported in another article,"Corbyn meeting disappointing say Jewish leaders" and these specific points were said to have been rejected by the Labour leader:
  • A fixed timetable to deal with anti-Semitism cases
  • Expedite the long-standing cases involving Mr Livingstone and suspended party activist Jackie Walker
  • No MP should share a platform with somebody expelled or suspended for anti-Semitism
  • Adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism
  • Transparent oversight of the disciplinary process

I get the impression that nothing would have satisfied Jonathan Arkush. Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree that charges of antisemitism should be dealt with swiftly but a fixed timetable could hinder a proper process that contained the right to defend oneself and possibly to appeal against suspension or expulsion. The cases of Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker do fall into this category and apparently will be dealt with by July.

The transparent oversight of the disciplinary process is rather vague. As shown in the last BelperStuff post the Labour Party Rule Book is freely available on line and clearly states the process involved. Perhaps what is being asked for here is something above and beyond. I do wonder if such requests are made of other political parties.

That no MP should share a platform with somebody expelled or suspended for antisemitism is something I totally agree with and we should expect self discipline from MP's on this point. Just how you deal with an MP who does share a platform with such a person is perhaps something that the party should address (or is it dealt with in the rule book or a matter referenced in the Chakrabarty report ........... must check).

Turning to the idea that the Labour Party should adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism I am confused. The Labour Party has already adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism (IDoA) alongside other UK political parties and many governments. Does the Board of Deputies of British Jews find fault in all these other institutions? Delving further into this I find that many have problems with this definition; some saying it stifles genuine criticism whilst others claim that it does not go far enough. The issue seems to revolve around the perception that adverse comments about Israel can be construed as antisemitic which I think is the crux of the matter. The IHRA has further clarified that this could include criticisms which target Israel, if this was “conceived as a Jewish collectivity”. It added: “However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” I don't find the Jewish collectivity element too difficult as I know that  the State of Israel is a multi-ethnic democracy. Of course the acceptance that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic" is a welcome definition. Here to I have to ask if the British Jewish establishment is critiscising other adopters of the IDoA for not accepting further IHRA wording?

Other points of interest 

  • Jonathan Arkush claimed on Newsnight that the majority of British Jews would not vote Labour. Not much change there then as a poll carried out prior to the 2015 general election found that 69% of the Jewish electorate would vote Tory with around 73 per cent of Jews saying the political parties’ attitudes to Israel were “very” or “quite” important in influencing how they would vote. link here to Jewish Chronicle 
Who pays for all this Photograph: Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Images

  • The British Board of British Deputies pulled out of a further "round table" meeting with Labour today as they objected to some of the Jewish groups that would be attending. link here to a Guardian article . We are back to the wrong type of Jew scenario.
  • The Jewish Chronicle is today running an article claiming that Jeremy Corbyn has backtracked on Labour adopting the international definition of antisemitism see here. I don't think he as an individual, even one as influential as leader of the party, can unilaterally make such a decision. We await clarification. The NEC make the rules following a democratic process.
  • The British Board of Deputies of British Jews sent a message of congratulation to Donald Trump when he became US President. Some find that interesting though I couldn't possibly comment.

Just out of interest

THE INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH POLICY RESEARCH  carried out a survey in 2010 to discover the POLITICAL LEANINGS OF BRITAIN’S JEWS link to it here


1. Among the Jewish population, leanings towards Conservative and Labour are evenly split, yet many people are undecided. 

2. Younger respondents are more likely to be undecided, and less likely to support the Conservatives, than older respondents. Support for Labour does not vary with age. 

3. Jewish men are considerably more likely than Jewish women to prefer the Conservatives. 4. Jews who are married are more likely to prefer the Conservative Party; single Jews are more likely to prefer Labour. 

5. The self-employed are more likely to prefer the Conservatives (39% Conservative versus 29% Labour), whereas full-time employees prefer Labour (38% Labour versus 25% Conservative). 

6. Jews demonstrate very different political preferences depending upon which part of the country they live in. 

7. Jews with a ‘Secular’ outlook prefer Labour; those with a ‘Religious’ outlook prefer the Conservatives. 

8. Political preferences among Jews vary significantly depending upon which synagogue denomination they belong to. (56.3% of Jewish households have one or more persons attending a synagogue - gleaned from the BDoDoBJ website).

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