A prominent member of Jewish Voice for Labour – the official network for Jewish members of the Labour Party – has just completely blown the lid off the latest antisemitism row by suggesting that the likes of Margaret Hodge and the pro-Israel Labour right-wing were not genuinely concerned with real antisemitism and were simply using the row as a proxy to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
In recent weeks, Labour’s decision to amend the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in their rulebook has come in for criticism from numerous pro-Israel Labour MPs, activists and media commentators.
However, many in the media and political sphere have chosen to ignore significant facts about the IHRA working definition that make the NEC’s decision to amend the document completely understandable and entirely legitimate.
The biggest of the facts to be conveniently ignored is that the man who literally drafted the text, Kenneth Stern, has himself voiced similar concerns to Labour’s governing body about how the text severely curtails legitimate criticism of the highly controversial actions of the Israeli government.
However, despite the media doing their level best to only put forward one side of the story and ignore inconvenient facts that legitimise Labour’s decision, one prominent Jewish activist has seemingly slipped through the net to deliver some much-needed truthbombs live on the BBC.
Naomi Wimborne-Idriss is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour – the Labour Party’s official network for Jewish members – and her incredible destruction of the lies behind current Labour antisemitism scandal truly puts the blatantly agenda-based opinions of the vast majority of mainstream media pundits and commentators to shame.
Below is a full transcript of the questions asked by the BBC interviewer, and Ms Wimborne-Idrissi’s utterly immaculate refutation of them:
“BBC Interviewer Norman Smith: I’m joined now by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi who’s a member of the Jewish Voice for Labour.
Why not just resolve this whole controversy over the code by doing as so many other organisations have and simply accepting the international code?
Wimborne-Idrissi: Okay, let’s be very clear about what that code is. There is no such thing as an agreed international code – there’s a document that has been pushed for many years now by pro-Israel organisations. And the problem with it is that it includes in its provisions elements that are designed to prevent certain kinds of criticism of Israel and of Zionism. It’s designed to do that.
And the danger that this presents has been identified by many Jewish commentators. We in Jewish Voice for Labour, and many of our friends, really resent the fact that it is presented as if there’s one internationally recognised definition and all Jews want it. We don’t! The harshest critics – the most coherent critics – have been leading Jewish intellectuals, such as Anthony Lerman, the former head of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, Brian Klug, a leading expert on antisemitism, and even – this is significant – Kenneth Stern, an American academic – who drafted the original document which has morphed into this IHRA thing, because it represses freedom of speech!
And, why do people adopt it with such alacrity? Well let’s face it – if you go to a local authority or a governmental body and you say “we’ve got this thing which is going to get rid of antisemitism!”, people will go “Oh my god! We all hate antisemitism! Tick!”.
I have been at council meetings, I’ve been in council chambers, where the document is presented, there’s no discussion, no debate, everybody just puts their hand up! It’s a fake, Norman. It is a fake and we are being snowed with this thing.
What Labour has done is to really coherently take on board everything that is good about it – everything – I mean, you can look at it line by line. What they’ve done, where it’s dubious, where it endangers freedom of speech, they have expanded it, they have discussed it. Is it antisemitic to say Israel is a racist state? Maybe it is sometimes, but often it is not, and we have to be free to say that when it is not antisemitic.
Norman Smith: Okay, well let me put this to you. Most Jewish organisations, pretty much every strand of religious opinion within the Jewish community, has been critical of Labour for not adopting the whole set.
Wimborne-Idrissi: Because they’ve been told Labour is an antisemitic [inaudible] it’s simply not true!
Norman Smith: But is the point not this. If someone sees something as racist – they feel it as racist – you should give regard to them and accept what they say, rather than assuming you know better?
Wimborne-Idrissi: No, okay. Of course you should give regard to them, and that’s what Lord Macpherson said in his inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence – that you should have *regard* to the perception of the victim. He did not say – and this is absolutely critical – he did not say that that alleged victim has the absolute right to decide and pass judgement on the person they allege is guilty of race hate – that’s a completely different thing.
And these people from the Jewish community, I’m afraid, are doing all of us a terrible disservice by saying that only Jews may say if they are a victim of antisemitism.
If someone says to me “I don’t like what Israel is doing – I don’t like the Jewish Nation State bill that’s just come out” – which is deeply racist – if I say “that person is an antisemite” I don’t expect the law to believe me, I expect the law to look into it, and that’s what the Labour Party is trying to juggle.
Norman Smith: Politically, you will know that this row has now been going on for months and months and months in different guises. Can Jeremy Corbyn actually draw a line under it?
Wimborne-Idrissi: This is very difficult, because – and I know it’s controversial to say this: the reason for the row is *not* genuine concern for real antisemitism. There’s lots of that around – in Poland, on the streets of Westminster – it’s becoming terrifying that we really are facing a rise of the right – the white-supremacist right.
But all Jeremy Corbyn can do to satisfy his critics, to be absolutely honest, Norman, would be to resign. And then it would all stop.
Norman Smith: Do you think this is all a proxy for attacking Mr Corbyn’s leadership?
Wimborne-Idrissi: The way it’s being manipulated – I mean, look at where we are now: the Tory government’s in meltdown, Brexit’s chaos – what’s the Parliamentary Labour Party doing? Instead of sitting down in a collegic fashion, discussing strategy for how to deal with, you know, the situation in Parliament, they’re attacking Labour as the greatest threat to Jews in this country! The trouble is nobody out there believes them. Your viewers are going to be thinking “what is all this about?” – are Jews really concerned to shut us up about Palestine and nothing else matters? It’s dangerous for us.”
You can watch the interview in full below: