BY CALUM FRASER
A Jewish lobby group has criticised Labour politicians for amending a definition of anti-semitism.
Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) urged Lambeth council leader Lib Peck not to adopt an amended version of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism.
The Lambeth Labour definition omits five sentences from the IHRA definition, this includes the line: “Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-semitic.”
This blocks free speech and puts a barrier in the way of people criticising the Israeli Government, according to JVL. JVL’s deputation leader Mike Cushman said, “We told the council that leading QCs specialising in human rights had warned against the threats to free speech posed by the definition and that use of it could breach Human Rights law.
“We even told the council that the original lead author of the definition had told the US Congress about how the definition had been used to suppress debate.
“We are beyond furious that while insisting the definition allowed debate on Palestine and Israel she was, without telling anyone, stripping out even the limited protection guaranteed by the definition’s authors.”
Councillor Lib Peck said: “I’m proud that Lambeth council has agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism.
“This an important signal about our opposition to anti-semitism and determination to support Lambeth’s Jewish communities.
“As a long-time campaigner for human rights and vocal critic of the Israeli Government, there is no evidence that this definition in any way restricts free speech on the issue of Israel-Palestine.
“Sadly, Jewish Voice for Labour have engaged in a consistent campaign against the definition and against tackling anti-semitism and wanted to put caveats on the commitments to tackling anti-semitism.”