I am writing to you in your capacity as Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I am writing on my own behalf and do not represent any group or organisation.
I understand that the EHRC is now investigating allegations of antisemitism within the Labour Party. I read that the EHRC will investigate among other things 'whether unlawful acts have been committed by the Party or its employees or agents.' That being so, may I hope that it bases its inquiry on the historical definition of antisemitism which is a hatred of all Jews and of the whole of Jewish religion and culture, a definition which does not concern itself with any one state and does not discriminate between the different denominations or branches of the Jewish people?
I point this out because the allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party are being made by certain of its members who wish to protect Israel from the criticisms which have followed on from its actions in Palestine. These see fit to associate in the public mind the contemporary and specific criticisms of the modern state of Israel with the long tradition of antisemitism which I have described above.
It was to ensure that this equation was regularised that the IHRA definition of antisemitism was formulated. I feel therefore it is vital that the EHRC ignores the IHRA definition of antisemitism in this context as being politically-motivated, permitting the suppression of criticism of Israel and diverting attention away from the genuine problems many Jews face as they have always faced regardless of their allegiance or lack of it to Israel.
I am myself a Jew, and feel this strongly.
All this being said, then may I also hope that the EHRC asks the following questions in the course of its investigation, questions inspired by the kinds of actions historically taken against Jews by those who oppose them simply because they are Jews, i.e. by genuine antisemites?
1. Have any Jews been required to identify themselves as Jews in their application to join the Party?
2. Have any Jews been excluded from the Party on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
3. Have any Jews been required by the Party to carry or wear something which specifically identifies them as being Jewish?
4. Have any Jews been denied access to meetings, committees or conferences on the sole grounds that they are Jews?
5. Have any Jews been denied the right to stand as officers for, speak at, or in any other way contribute to meetings, committees or conferences, on the sole grounds they are Jews?
6. Have any Jewish officers been denied promotion within the Labour Party on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
7. Have any Jews been denied membership of the NEC on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
8. Have any Jews been denied the right to stand as Parliamentary candidates on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
9. Have any Jews been denied the right to cabinet status on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
10. Have any Jews ever been denied the right to stand for the Party leadership on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
11. Is there any part of the Party's constitution which includes Jews among those social classes of which the Labour Party is critical?
12. Are there any rules in the Party's rule-book which are specific to Jews, both regarding how they must or must not behave and what kinds of discriminatory actions should be taken against them?
13. Have any representatives of the Party been permitted by the Party to speak or write against Jews in any public forum, or in so doing have claimed that they are speaking on the Party's behalf?
I am strongly of the opinion that these questions must be asked and answered if the desire of the EHRC is genuinely one of establishing whether or not there is real antisemitism in the Party, as against anti-Zionism, which relates only to the state of Israel, does not reflect on the Jewish people as a whole, and is the accepted position of many Jews, including Jewish members of the Labour Party.
Thank you for your consideration,
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