Jackie Walker was recently suspended from the Labour Party (and removed from her role of vice chair of the radical-left pro-Corbyn group Momentum) after she falsely claimed, during a meeting about antisemitism organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, that Holocaust Memorial Day did not honor victims of other genocides.
Walker had previously been suspended from the party (and then readmitted) after she accused Jews of being the chief “financiers of the slave trade”.
On Oct. 4th, the Guardian published a letter by “Jewish members and supporters of Momentum” defending Walker. The letter, signed by (among others) Tony Greenstein and Ilan Pappe, included the following claims:
The Jewish Labour Movement, which ran the event, states that the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism’s [EUMC] working definition of antisemitism is the standard definition, despite the fact that its successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency [FRA], has junked this definition, which equates criticism of the Israeli state with antisemitism
First, it’s misleading to claim that the FRA “junked” the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism. Whilst it’s narrowly true that the FRA doesn’t include the definition on its new website due to the fact that its mandate differs from EUMC, FRA certainly did not in any way repudiate the definition. Further, the definition is still used by major government bodies in the US and the UK (including the US State Department and the UK Police Hate Crime Operation Guide.)
More importantly, the claim in the Guardian letter that the EUMC definition “equates criticism of the Israeli state with antisemitism” is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.
Here’s the relevant section of the Working Definition as it pertains to Israel:
The Working Definition makes a clear distinction – as do most pro-Israel activists and campaigners against antisemitism – between criticism of Israel which crosses the line to antisemitism (per the bullet points above) and that criticism (when leveled in a manner similar to criticism of any other country) which “cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.
Whilst Jewish supporters of Jackie Walker are of course entitled to their own opinion on the current antisemitism row, Guardian editors have a responsibility to ensure that all letters published on its site do not contain claims which are clearly inaccurate.