Labour slammed over free speech caveat on IHRA antisemitism definition


Jewish groups said the caveat would "undermine the entire IHRA definition" (Source: Getty)

The Labour Party has accepted the international definition of antisemitism but it was slammed by members and Jewish groups for adding a freedom of speech "caveat" .

The party's National Executive Committee (NEC) has agreed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition, with an added clarification over freedom of expression on Israel and Palestine.

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In July, Labour announced it would not accept all of the 11 examples given of antisemitic behaviour under the IHRA definition due to concerns it may limit criticism of Israel. 

Following weeks of turmoil in the party the NEC announced yesterday it would accept the examples of antisemitism, but also agreed to a statement to "ensure this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians."

Jewish groups criticised the decision and said it will "undermine the entire IHRA definition."

"The 'free speech caveat' drives a coach and horses through the IHRA definition," the Jewish Leadership Council said.

"It will do nothing to stop antisemitism within the party. It will do nothing to spot the vitriol being poured at those who put their heads above the parapet to condemn the party for antisemitism, which the leader has done nothing to stop.

"The IHRA definition is there to protect the Jewish community. Now that the NEC has undermined the definition, it is clearly more important to the Labour leader to protect the free speech of those who hate Israel than it is to protect the Jewish community from the real threats that it faces."

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who clashed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over his approach to antisemitism in the party, said: "Two steps forward and one step back. Why dilute the welcome adoption in full of the IHRA definition of antisemitism with an unnecessary qualification?"

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