Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Ms Wood’s actions and statements amount to breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualify as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.
The claim that Israel is ultimately responsible for the racist killing of George Floyd by American police has been shared in both the USA and the UK despite having been debunked and extensively scrutinised by journalists. It is reminiscent of repeated libels against the Jewish people, who have been blamed throughout history for contemporaneous atrocities. By apparently defending those who had promoted this claim, through the rhetorical device of disingenuously asking whether “criticism of Israel’s government is antisemitism” (whereas the International Definition of Antisemitism, which Plaid Cymru has adopted, specifically states that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”), and posting an article which was intended to support the notion of Israel’s supposed guilt in the matter of having trained US police , she was “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective…”, where Israel is “conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” We note that Ms Wood, as a Welsh Assembly Member and former leader of her party would be expected to have a robust understanding of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Given that Jewish groups and individuals have been prominent amongst those making well-founded claims of antisemitism both against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, by sharing comments in which accusations of antisemitism against Mr Corbyn were characterised as “[smears]” which had been deployed in a “flagrant, repellent and cynical” way in order to “defeat him” , she was endorsing the deployment of the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring or having deceitful motives in doing so, when there is clear evidence that there have been breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism. This further constitutes “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…” under the definition.
We further note that the report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) following its statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, includes a section entitled “Types of antisemitic conduct that amounted to unlawful harassment” with a subsection entitled “Suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fake or smears”. This subsection states that: “Labour Party agents denied antisemitism in the Party and made comments dismissing complaints as ‘smears’ and ‘fake’. This conduct may target Jewish members as deliberately making up antisemitism complaints to undermine the Labour Party, and ignores legitimate and genuine complaints of antisemitism in the Party. These comments went beyond simply describing the agents’ own personal experience of antisemitism in the Party.”
Additionally, in its report, the EHRC made clear that its judgements apply to all political parties and emphasised that the European Convention on Human Rights does not protect racist speech, which may include antisemitic speech.
On this basis, the EHRC found that denying antisemitism in the Labour Party and making comments dismissing complaints as “smears” or “fake” — such as allegations that complaints of antisemitism are “part of a smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby’ to stigmatise critics of Israel as antisemitic, and … intended to undermine and disrupt the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn MP” — are not protected by the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In other words, such comments are not protected as freedom of speech at all, but amount to unlawful harassment of Jewish people.
Furthermore, the EHRC specified certain examples of antisemitic conduct which would be unlawful on the same basis within the relevant context.
Ms Wood’s actions in which she endorsed and disseminated material deploying the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, as described above, are therefore not protected speech, and may constitute unlawful harassment as defined above.
Moreover, by deploying the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’ as described above, Ms Wood, as an agent of her party, may therefore have caused Plaid Cymru to breach equality legislation.