Britain’s main opponent Labour Party was embroiled in a fresh row today over anti-Semitism within its ranks after its new code of conduct designed to address the issue was denounced by Jewish groups and MPs.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been involved of allowing anti-Semitism to spread in the left-wing party.
Labour MP John Woodcock, a prominent critic of Corbyn, said he was quitting the party over the matter.
Matters came to a head in March when British Jewish leaders wrote a joint letter claiming “enough is enough”, and protests were kept outside parliament.
The letter declared a “repeated institutional failure” within Labour to tackle the problem and involved Corbyn of siding with anti-Semites “again and again”.
In response, Labour drew up a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism, which was supported by its governing body on Monday — in the face of intense criticism from the Jewish community.
(United Kingdom’s Labour Party hit by new anti-Semitism row)
The code says explicitly that “anti-Semitism is racism” and it is “unacceptable”.
However, it stops short of signing up in full to the definition drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Many British institutions use the complete IHRA definition.
In a mutual statement, the leaders of the main British Jewish organisations declared the “watered-down definition” would be regarded with “incredulity and outrage by the overwhelming majority of the UK’s Jews.”
The “distorted and diluted” definition of anti-Semitism seems pointed at protecting “those who are part of the problem”, they said.
According to the Huffington Post, Labour MP Margaret Hodge faced Corbyn in parliament, calling him an “anti-Semite and a racist”.
“You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party,” she was quoted by the news website as saying Corbyn.
The new code supports the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism and has parts of it copied word-for-word.
But it omits four examples from the IHRA list: — Blaming Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country; — Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour; — Requiring higher standards of response from Israel than other nations; and — Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.
The Labour Against Anti-Semitism group condemned the choice of the new guidelines.
Spokesman Euan Philipps said: “The Labour movement has lost its moral compass, appears to have an institutional anti-Semitism problem and can no longer claim to represent the values of solidarity, justice and equality.”
The Jewish Labour Movement said: “The Labour Party has acted in a deliberate and offensive reckless behaviour in believing it understands the needs of a minority community safer than the community itself.”
Accusations of anti-Semitism have been a problem for veteran socialist Corbyn ever since his improbable management win in 2015.
(United Kingdom’s Labour Party hit by new anti-Semitism row )