Chief Rabbi Vs. Labour Party
Reported by Gilad Atzmon
The BBC reports this morning that Britan’s chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said Labour will be "on the wrong side" of the fight against racism unless it toughens up its anti-Semitism code of conduct.
Rabbi Mirvis said Labour's new anti-Semitism definition sent "an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community".
Apparently the Chief Rabbi is not alone. The J Post reports this morning that “Sixty-eight British rabbis signed an open letter decrying antisemitism in the country’s labor Party and calling on the party to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.”
Labour has defended its new code as the most "comprehensive" of any party.
But one may wonder, why do we need a special definition for antisemitsm? Is a general and universal denouncement of racism, bigotry and discrimination of all kinds not sufficient? Are Jews somehow special?
The new Labour code does endorse the IHRA's working definition of anti-Semitism and includes behaviours it lists as likely to be regarded as anti-Semitic – yet Jewish critics point out that it leaves out four examples from that definition:
* Accusing 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 behaviour from Israel than other nations
* Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis
Far from being surprising, Corbyn’s Labour see Israeli criminality as a problem and insists upon the right to criticise the actions of the Jewish State and its lobbies in political, cultural and historical contexts.
Rabbi Mirvis attacked the omission of these examples by the Labour and said it was "astonishing that the Labour Party presumes it is more qualified" to define anti-Semitism than the Jewish community.
The Rabbi could be slightly confused here. Jews are more than welcome to define antisemitsm, as they like, but the labour party has the duty to define what it regards as an anti Jewish bigotry in accordance to its own alleged universal values.
Mirvis said Labour risked being on the "wrong side of the fight" against racism and intolerance
I would argue however that the Labour party, Rabbi Mirvis and most British Jewish institutions are on the wrong side of history here. If racism and Bigotry are defined as the discrimination of X for being X (X=woman, Jew, Black, Muslim, Gay, White etc.), then for Britain to move forward and to sustain the spirit of the common law, it must oppose all forms of racism and bigotry all together and equally.
To fight racism we need to follow one simple universal guideline rather than looking for the specific demands of one group or another.