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Palestinian groups call to reject IHRA definition of anti-semitism

PALESTINIAN civil society groups called on the Labour Party and trade unions today to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism because it would silence criticism of Israel’s policies.

A collection of 24 trade unions, campaign groups and refugee networks issued a statement against the adoption of the definition, saying that it “conflates anti-semitism with criticism of Israel.”

The signatories include the General Union of Palestinian Workers, General Union of Palestinian Teachers, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, Palestinian Camps Boycott Movement (Lebanon) and Women Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products.

They entered the row over Labour’s decision not to adopt all accompanying examples to the IHRA definition on anti-semitism, circulating the statement online with the hashtag #DontSilencePalestine.

ITV reported today that three members of Labour’s national executive committee said the party would adopt the IHRA definition at its next full meeting on September 4.

The Palestinian organisations’ letter says the IHRA guidelines “deliberately conflate hostility to or prejudice or discrimination against Jews on the one hand with legitimate critiques of Israel’s policies and system of injustice on the other.”

The IHRA definition “attempts to erase Palestinian history, demonise solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, suppress freedom of expression, and shield Israel’s far-right regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid from effective measures of accountability in accordance to international law,” it adds.

Britain-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal called the statement a “hugely significant intervention.”

He said: “We share these concerns about how the IHRA is being used to suppress discussion of the realities of Palestinian dispossession and the ongoing denial of their rights as well as a tool to quash the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

“Labour and the trade union movement must heed Palestinian voices.”

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