Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Cllr Collings’ actions and statements amount to breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualify as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.
The assertion that Jews are ‘white’ or ‘European’ is often made in order to cast them as alien ‘colonialists’ in Israel without a true connection to the land, and the Israel-Palestine conflict as based on racial oppression, whereas the majority of Jews in Israel are actually of Middle Eastern or North African descent. Moreover, by designating Jews as ‘white’ (with its inherent implication of privilege and power), according to the hierarchical understanding of disadvantage conceived within the framework of intersectional or identity politics to which Cllr Collings appears to subscribe, they can be cast as a group who do not suffer discrimination, but are, rather, more likely to occupy the role of oppressors. Thus, by characterising Jewish Israelis as “white [men]” engaged in “white supremacism”, and the creation of the State of Israel as an act of “imperial colonialism” , Cllr Collings was “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)”.
Given that Jewish groups and individuals have been prominent among those who have claimed there is antisemitism in the Labour Party, by characterising such allegations as part of a “witch hunt” ; by endorsing the suggestion that an individual with a history of antisemitic discourse was being criticised simply for being a critic of Israel [3a]; by endorsing the assertion that allegations of antisemitism made against Jeremy Corbyn were “a pack of lies” intended to discredit him [3b]; by endorsing the assertion that there was a conspiracy to “go after” Plaid Cymru representatives with accusations of antisemitism in order to “stop criticism of the Israeli government”, characterised as a “witch hunt” [3c]; and by endorsing a statement which characterised those who made claims of antisemitism in the Labour Party (which necessarily includes Jews) as “Israeli apologists” who were making false claims [3d], he was both deploying and 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, 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.
Cllr Collings’ comments in which he deploys or endorses the deployment of the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’ as described above do not, therefore, constitute protected speech under our analysis of the EHRC’s report.
Moreover, by deploying the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’ as described above, Cllr Collings, as an agent of his Party, may therefore have caused Plaid Cymru to breach equality legislation.