Haringey Council has adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism amid threats and heckling from the public gallery. Council Leader Claire Kober, a Labour Party councillor, proposed a motion to adopt the definition, and the motion was seconded by Gail Engert of the Liberal Democrats, with the support of both parties. The motion appears to have been passed unanimously, however activists interrupted proceedings repeatedly by shouting from the public gallery, with one voice heard shouting: “We will see you at your Constituency Labour Party.” Labour Councillor Joe Goldberg tweeted that he was threatened by fellow Labour Party members.
Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomes the fact that the motion was carried with cross-party cooperation, and commends those who proposed it. Nevertheless, it is concerning that local members of Labour’s Momentum faction organised a lobbying event on the specious basis that the definition supposedly suppresses criticism of the State of Israel and stifles support for Palestinians. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the definition clearly states that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”, a point which was also made during the debate at Haringey Council.
It has also been reported that a number of Labour councillors were excused from voting after they indicated they would refuse to back the motion.
We commend the councillors who proposed and supported this motion. The opposition to the motion took the form of a menacing rabble and we call on the Labour Party in particular to discipline any of its members who took part in heckling and threats. Regrettably we hold out little hope that they will take any action at all.
The debate follows the publication on Sunday by Campaign Against Antisemitism of expert legal guidance on the definition which finds that “The Definition is a clear, meaningful and workable definition” which “should be used by public bodies on the basis that it will ensure that the identification of antisemitism is clear, fair and accurate.”
Tonight I sat in Full Council threatened by Labour Party members for voting for motion on anti-semitism while speakers were shouted down
— Joe Goldberg (@joedgoldberg) July 24, 2017