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May 3, 2016 4:44 pm

British Watchdog Calls Labour Antisemitism Probe Into Question Over Stance of Vice Chairman

avatar by Lea Speyer

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The neutrality of Professor David Feldman, vice chairman of an independent Labour Party probe into antisemitism, is being called into question. Photo: Pears Foundation.

The neutrality of Professor David Feldman, vice chairman of an independent Labour Party probe into antisemitism, is being called into question. Photo: Pears Foundation.

The vice chairman of an independent probe on antisemitism in Britain’s Labour Party is known for his attacks against the widely accepted definition of antisemitism used by many international governments, an official from a British charity that also serves as a watchdog told The Algemeiner on Tuesday, calling into question Labour’s pick on whom it chose to lead the investigation. 

In response to a Jewish Chronicle report about Professor David Feldman’s affiliation with Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), commented, “Professor Feldman is a fierce critic of the only definition of antisemitism that is widely used by the UK College of Policing, the British Government, the EU Parliament and the US State Department — the EUMC definition of antisemitism. This is the definition we have adopted at CAA and is one we urge Labour to adopt immediately, to help it resolve the antisemitism problem it has.”

According to the report, IJV — self-described as a “network of individuals who wish to have a platform for critical debate on major political questions, and the situation in the Middle East in particular” — said many of the accusations against Labour are “politically motivated” and aimed at discrediting critics of Israel and party leader Jeremy Corbyn. “Some of these allegations against individuals are, in our view, baseless and disingenuous; in other cases, ill-chosen language has been employed,” IJV said in a statement. 

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Feldman, who is the director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, is also a signatory of the IJV Declaration, which states in part, “The battle against antisemitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as antisemitic.”

Feldman defended his ties with IJV, telling the Jewish Chronicle, “It is my view that all allegations of antisemitism require investigation. My starting point is that the rules and norms applied to identify racism for other minorities in British society should be applied consistently, and that means to Jews.” IJV, according to Feldman, supports human rights, opposes all forms of racism and views the battle against antisemitism as a “vital” cause. “It is hard to see what is controversial about these points,” he said.  

Feldman said his initial working assumption during the independent Labour inquiry will be that “people are speaking and writing in good faith and are engaged in an honest disagreement. Allegations of disingenuousness, which come from many sides of this debate, can rarely be proven.” He added that there is “an urgent need for dispassionate consideration and constructive proposals.”

Sacerdoti told The Algemeiner, howeverthat the “Labour Party inquiry is not reviewing Corbyn’s handling of the crisis or existing cases, which suggests that its usefulness will be limited.” He added that “many are worried it will be no more than symbolic.”

Labour’s investigation, Sacerdoti said, “must look at the root causes of why people in the party have such extreme views and unearth any underlying issues which cause them, and then work to fix those. This is an enormous job and not one that seems possible in a short period.”

Also raising issue with Feldman’s criticism of the EUMC definition of antisemitism is a Change.org petition calling on Corbyn to make sure Labour’s investigation is “not a whitewash.”

“We are very concerned about the shocking resurgence of antisemitism in the UK and express the hope that Labour’s inquiry can help to ensure zero tolerance in the Party,” the petition page states. “But we consider that there is little chance of achieving this with a Deputy Chairman who does not accept the EUMC definition. We therefore ask that Professor Feldman is replaced with someone who does accept the EUMC definition.”

Shami Chakrabarti, former director of the human rights campaign group Liberty, has been appointed by Corbyn to lead the investigation.

On Monday, Labour’s antisemitism scandal widened when it was reported by the Telegraph that in the course of two months, Labour had secretly suspended 50 party members for antisemitic and racist comments. Approximately 20 of these suspensions took place over the last two weeks. On Thursday, the UK will head to the polls in key elections and, according to political experts cited by British media, Labour could lose 150 or more council seats.

Corbyn insisted on Tuesday that Labour will strengthen, telling reporters, “We are not going to lose seats, we are looking to gain seats where we can.”

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  • HALF-BREED

    The Labor Party should lose 150 votes. It should lose every single Jewish vote, because the antisemites will vote for Labor (See the above post by Paul Renan) just because it is allowing anti-semitism to flourish. Obviously there are plenty of them. These so-called “investigations” are worthless because the foxes are in charge of the hen house. What will it take for you to realize what’s happening and, more importantly, do something about it? How do you think this would be dealt with if Muslims were on the receiving end of this kind of public abuse?

    Please wake up people. Read your history: the Jews have been thrown out of England before. They were there from 1070 until the Edict of Expulsion in 1290. They were not allowed back in until around 1830, though a few “secret Jews” remained. They were finally allowed to sit in Parliament in 1858. There has been a period of relative tolerance for Jews in England, although antisemitism certainly never went away. With the influx from the Middle East of people who unabashedly spew their hatred for Jews, and now have a public platform to do it from, things have changed. You need to use whatever political clout you have right now, or start making plans to emigrate—somewhere.

    Don’t think it can’t happen there. It already has.

  • Kudos to CAA, Jonathan Hoffman and all who grow weary from the British Left’s and Labour’s stealth antisemitism. Please sign the above petition to remove David Feldman as head of an institution whose mission was to stem antisemitism–not promote it. Anti-Zionists of the World, go unite somewhere else.

  • Malcolm Jackson

    The British Labour party is now the party of Islam. There are about 4 million Muslim voters in the UK and around 240,000 British Jews. By birthrate alone, in 20 years, the Muslims will be the largest voting block in the UK. By being anti-semitic the Labour Party has won the Muslim vote. The Mosques tell all Muslims to vote Labour, and also to bring postal votes to the mosques to be signed for Labour. Democracy is on its last legs in the UK. We are fast on the way to becoming slaves of Islam.

  • Stein

    Heh.

    “Feldman, who is the director of the Pear[shaped] Institute for the Study of Antisemitism …”

  • Martin
  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    Feldman is not to be trusted at all – he is a vicious,nasty anti-Israel campaigner of the first order and has associated himself with openly anti-semitic groups sheltering under the banner of “anti-Zionism”.Labour has now become the comfortable home not only of Muslim Jew-hating voters but also of traditional British anti-semites.Whatever Feldman may claim to the contrary the fact is that anti-Zionism = anti-semitism! This “inquiry” is going to be nothing but a whitewash of Corbyn and his horde of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel followers.

  • nat cheiman

    Why even bother with the enquiry? Soon, Labour will be overrun by these extremists and then the British can decide whether to vote in this type of iniquitous government

  • I very much hope that the antisemitism within the ranks of Labour is not indicative of a more general situation in the United Kingdom. If this is the case,allegations against the Labour Party that it is antisemitic are likely to increase it’s popularity and the number of votes it receives in upcoming elections.

  • Jay Lavine

    Separating out criticism of Israeli policies or activities from anti-Semitism per se is a valid thing to do in theory, but I doubt that most of those who do so are delving deeply enough into the motivations of Israel’s most fervent critics. For example, how does the prejudicial perception of Jews as people who are always trying to take or grab what is not theirs fit into the mindset of those critics? It can often be a difficult question to answer. Many people are unaware that they even harbor such preconceived notions in their subconscious minds.

    Compounding the problem is ideology, a kind of idol that its adherents worship; it becomes their religion. The ideology exerts a kind of mind control over them, constantly urging them to accept its assumptions and seek their validation. I think this is how Judaism differs from secular ideologies. It promotes seeking the truth through an impartial and evenhanded search that employs respect for educated opinion and legitimate authority.

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