'Former Labour MP Clare Short got right to the heart of the antisemitism smear campaign against the Jeremy Corbyn-led movement on 28 May.
“Widening of the definition”
Short, who resigned from Tony Blair’s front bench over the invasion of Iraq, told Newsnight host Emma Barnett:
What’s happened is there’s been a widening of the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel. Then, anyone who’s sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians is called antisemitic. That is what’s happened.
Indeed, on 4 September 2018, Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) caved into pressure and adopted the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition in full. This decision came despite the evidence that some of the examples given alongside the definition could be used to smear critics of Israel. Examples such as “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour” risk blurring the line between criticism of Israel and antisemitism. As such, the definition has been used to shut down events exposing Israeli apartheid at UK universities.
Although the NEC fully adopted the definition, however, Channel 4 claimed on 29 May 2019 that there is still “no mention” of the IHRA definition or its examples in Labour’s 2019 rule book.
On Newsnight, Short continued:
All the research evidence… shows that there is not a lot of antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Indeed, studies into antisemitism put the matter into perspective. A 2017 report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, for example, emphasised that antisemitism is prevalent across society, including on the left. But the renowned Jewish thinktank also concluded that:
On the political spectrum, levels of antisemitism are found to be highest among the far-right
Antisemitism exists in Labour, but reportedly relates to around 0.1% of the 540,000-strong membership. Corbyn’s political opponents, however, have exaggerated the issue beyond all recognition.'
Read more: Ex Labour MP breaks open the heart of the antisemitism smear campaign on BBC Newsnight