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Jeremy Corbyn condemned for anti-Semitism definition 're-write'

By Pete Madeley | Politics | Published:

Ian Austin has condemned Jeremy Corbyn for attempting to re-write the accepted definition of anti-Semitism before it was adopted by the Labour party.

Ian Austin has criticised Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of the Labour anti-Semitism row

The Labour leader asked the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to endorse a statement saying is not ‘anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist’.

It came as the NEC agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and accompanying examples – alongside a controversial caveat the party said would protect free speech.

Mr Corbyn's statement – which appeared to contravene one of the key examples of the IHRA definition – was withdrawn by the Labour leader after it became clear it would be rejected by the NEC.

The NEC's decision to include a so called 'free speech clause' has angered Jewish groups, with Labour Against Anti-Semitism saying it appeared to be about 'protecting the freedom of racists to present vile views'.

Dudley North MP Mr Austin today described the NEC ruling as a 'missed opportunity' to earn the confidence of the Jewish community.

And he said the blame lies squarely at the door of Mr Corbyn, who he accused of failing to properly respond to the concerns over anti-Semitism.

"The entire Jewish community have been pleading with the Labour party for months to adopt the full standard, internationally accepted definition with all the examples," Mr Austin said.

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"Yet the Labour party seems to think it knows best.

"This was a missed opportunity. It is going to take a lot more than this to earn the confidence of the Jewish community and the wider public.

"The job of a political leader is to listen to people's concerns and bring people together. Yet even after all the problems of the last few months, Jeremy wanted to re-write the definition.

"The leadership have got to respond properly to the very reasonable requests that the mainstream Jewish organisations made back in the Spring.

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"Jeremy has got to address his role and his responsibility in the development of this crisis. He has got to explain properly his actions over the last 30 years, when he has been meeting and defending all sorts of extremists and in some cases, terrorists.

"They have got to start kicking racists out of the Labour party without any further delay."

Labour Friends of Israel said the freedom of expression on Israel clause was 'unnecessary and totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted'.

Meanwhile, Mr Austin has also criticised the re-election to the NEC of hard left activist Peter Willsman.

He had been dropped by Momentum from its list of recommended candidates after he claimed Jewish 'Trump fanatics' were inventing allegations of anti-Semitism in the party.

Mr Austin said: "How people can vote for Peter Willsman after what he said is beyond me. He deliberately went out of his way to cause huge offence to one of Britain's minority communities. It is really shocking.

"He should not be in the Labour party let alone on the NEC."

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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