The proposed change would enshrine in party statutes the idea that harbouring critical thoughts about Israel is equivalent to hating Jews, says Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi; and Lynette Gribble on the rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine
As an active member of the Labour party who happens to be Jewish, I found your piece about the party rules and antisemitism laughable and alarming in equal measure (Report, 18 September). You quote Mike Katz saying it “could be a big, healing moment for the party” if conference next week approves a rule change that the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), of which he is vice-chair, has been pushing for over a year now. This change would enshrine in party statutes the idea that harbouring critical thoughts about the state of Israel is equivalent to hating Jews. The same idea has been behind a two-year wave of unjust disciplinary action against pro-Corbyn activists who support justice for Palestine, driving a vitriolic factional onslaught against the left. It has nothing to do with combating racism against Jews.
Far from healing rifts in the party, adopting the JLM rule change would empower those opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to drive out more of his supporters. Katz and his backers on the Labour right stand in opposition to Jewish members of the Labour party who have formed a new organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour, which offers an alternative to the JLM’s pro-Israel agenda. JVL is supporting an alternative resolution from Hastings and Rye constituency Labour party which a) makes clear that legitimate political discourse on Israel is not evidence of antisemitism; and b) would ensure that any proven antisemitism – which of course we are totally opposed to – is sanctioned through a process that is consistent with natural justice.