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Labour ruling body to consider adopting anti-Semitism definition

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Labour’s ruling body will decide whether to fully adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism as the row over the party’s response to the problem continued to simmer.

Splits within Labour were further exposed by the re-election to the party’s National Executive Committee of a controversial activist who called some members of the Jewish community “Trump fanatics” and accused them of making up allegations of anti-Semitism.

Peter Willsman was elected to serve another two-year term on the NEC on Monday and the body of senior party representatives will be in the spotlight again as it considers the issue of anti-Semitism on Tuesday.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell became the most senior Labour figure to call for the party to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Mr McDonnell acknowledged the party should have moved more quickly to resolve a row which has dominated headlines over the summer and sparked warnings of a deep rift with Britain’s Jewish community.

The NEC will consider whether to reverse its decision to omit some examples of anti-Semitic behaviour in the definition from its code of conduct for party members.

Critics of the IHRA approach have claimed it could restrict their ability to criticise the Israeli government’s actions against Palestinians and protests are expected outside Labour’s London HQ urging the NEC to reject the examples.

Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, Mr McDonnell said he wanted “an acceptance of the IHRA definition and examples” but also “freedom of speech so people are free to criticise Israel and its policies, free to advocate the rights of the Palestinians, but at the same time make sure it’s done in language that’s acceptable”.

He acknowledged the row had “dragged on and I think we should have addressed it much sooner”.

Mr Willsman’s election to the NEC – one of a slate of nine supporters of Jeremy Corbyn to win posts on the body – led to further unease about the party’s response to anti-Semitism.

Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Mr Willsman’s election following his “reprehensible comments” was “deeply concerning”.

She said the NEC must adopt the full IHRA definition and all its examples “and then begin taking firm disciplinary action against all those who commit anti-Semitic acts and bring the party into disrepute by denying the problem”.

Mr Willsman said his job on the NEC was to support his “friend for 41 years” Mr Corbyn – who he called “Jerry”.

He said critics were trying to undermine the Labour leader and “some MPs, elected by Labour voters, seem willing to help the rich and powerful”.

https://www.geezgo.com/sps/37794

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