Members of ICAHD UK will be well aware of the extent to which allegations of anti-Semitism are commanding much attention at the moment. These are just part of the campaign to label any criticism of Israel or any concern about Zionism as anti-Semitic.
We have sent our members copies of the memorandum which we sent to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in connection with its enquiries into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. We have also put on our website our memorandum to the German Bundestag about its resolution equating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] with anti-Semitism.
A matter of much concern at the moment is the treatment by the Labour Party of Chris Williamson, MP. He was suspended by the party in February 2019 after allegations of anti-Semitism. After an investigation by a tribunal drawn from the National Executive Committee, he was given a formal warning but was reinstated. The correct rules and procedures were followed in the investigation. However his reinstatement was followed immediately by a barrage of complaints within the Parliamentary Labour Party and amongst some Jewish organisations that Chris Williamson had been too apologetic about anti-Semitism, and within 48 hours his suspension was re-imposed.
To the best of our knowledge at no point have the critics of the lifting of the suspension or the mainstream media sought to consider why the tribunal might have come to the conclusion which it did, or to look at what Chris Williamson actually said. This was in a speech to Sheffield Momentum in February 2019:
“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion [two or three words indistinct] we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic. What have we got to apologise for, for being an anti-Semitic party, and we’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party. And yet we are being traduced.”
Surely Now it is Chris Williamson who is being traduced. What every report in the media has said was that he had said that the party had been too apologetic about anti-Semitism. It is clear however that what he said was quite different, namely “that the party had been too apologetic when dealing with allegations of anti-Semitism and that it had too willingly accepted suggestions that the party condoned racism”.
Chris Williamson is on the left of the Labour party and an ally of Jeremy Corbyn. It is unclear to what extent Chris Williamson has been caught up in the campaign to show that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to be Prime Minister (on which ICAHD UK has no view). What is clear however is that Chris’ treatment shows that we are getting very close to the position in which to criticise Israel is treated as criticising Jews. It follows that, if this view prevails, anyone, Jew or non Jew, who is critical of Israel or is anti-Zionist should at best be ignored or, if not, be denounced.
Incidentally any member who is in the area may be interested to know that Chris Williamson will be speaking on “Will the next Labour Government deliver?” at Hebden Bridge Town Hall at 1 pm on Saturday 3 August. Further details may be obtained by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.