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JNP Call to the Leader of the Labour Party

Defend Chris Williamson MP against the pro-Israel racist agenda

Jewish Network for Palestine is deeply disturbed by the way the Labour Party has treated Chris Williamson MP over the last few weeks.

It is dishonest to imply that his comments were antisemitic.  In fact he rightly said: 
“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party is partly responsible for that. In my opinion we have backed off far too much; we have given too much ground; we’ve been too apologetic. We’ve done more to address the scourge of antisemitism than any other party”. 
Williamson was accurately describing the situation whereby the party caved in to the pro-Israel Lobby's pressures, suspended him and started an unjustified inquiry, which found no evidence of antisemitic behaviour. After few hours,  again under mass media and Lobby pressure, Williamson was again suspended. This is unjust behaviour, denying Williamson (and other MPs) natural justice and a proper process. 

Chris Williamson’s case illustrates how accusations about antisemitism have silenced criticism of Israel.  This silencing has been normalised and enforced through the so-called IHRA definition of antisemitism, whose examples falsely equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.  The IHRA definition serves a doubly racist agenda: it links Jews' self-determination with a racist state, prohibits calling it a 'racist endeavour', and thus censors Palestinians' national narrative of their racist-colonialist dispossession.  The same racist agenda is served by false allegations of antisemitism against pro-Palestine activists, as well as by long suspensions of Labour Party members beyond due process. 

Everyone has a right (even a duty) to oppose illegal and immoral behaviour wherever they find it. The right to criticise governments or political organisations is part of the right to freedom of expression, enshrined in the  United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A). The declaration clearly states:
Article 18.       
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.       
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This right is also enshrined in British and European law. Yet the Labour Party is shamefully persecuting its MPs courageous enough to defy the Israel Lobby's racist agenda. Jewish Network for Palestine calls upon the Labour Party to end the suspension immediately and apologise to Chris Williamson MP.

Jewish Network for Palestine, 4 July 2019

David Cannon, Chair and Linda Anne Speight, Vice Chair for the JNP Steering Group

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