Trade unions and the Labour Party must be at the heart of building a movement against racism and fascism, and there is no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia or any other kind of racism in our ranks. In an era when the far-right is growing in confidence it is more important than ever to stand against Holocaust denial, anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and any other forms of antisemitic prejudice and hatred.
However, the examples which accompany the IHRA definition systematically conflate opposition to Israel with antisemitism, threatening to undermine many years of practical solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of decades of dispossession and occupation. We believe it is vitally important that trade unionists can speak out to challenge Israel’s history of racism towards the Palestinians without being labelled as antisemitic.
The IHRA definition and its examples also pose a serious threat to academic freedom. Specifically, there is a wide body of scholarly research and teaching that locates the origins of the state of Israel within the framework of a European colonial settler project. This draws on historical evidence of widely-held racist ideas about the ‘indigenous population’ among Israel’s founders and acts of ethnic cleansing and exclusion in building the new state. Historical interpretations are of course subject to challenge, but the very principles of scholarly research will be under threat if legitimate interpretations of Israel’s founding as “a racist endeavour” are falsely conflated with antisemitism.
We note that the general secretaries of several major trade unions urged Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party to adopt the IHRA definition in full. We do not share their view that compromising over this issue is necessary in order to boost Labour’s chances at the polls.
We pledge to continue the campaign against the adoption of the IHRA definition and examples within our own trade unions, and urge others to do the same in their institutions. What we need is to build unity across the labour movement in the face of the growing threat from the far-right, while remaining uncompromising in our opposition to all forms of racism, and steadfast in our solidarity with the Palestinian people.
See the full list of signatories as of 850am 07/09/18 here: https://tinyurl.com/IHRAtradeunionletterfullsigs Initial signatories include:
Mark Abel NEC member UCUMary Adossides President Brent Trades Council Ian Allinson Former EC member, Branch chair and NISC member UniteAndy Bain, ex-President, TSSAProfessor Harriet Bradley Chair, South West Region UCU UWEMandy Brown NEC member - London Regional Secretary - Lambeth College UCUMike Calvert Unison - Deputy Branch Secretary Islington (PC)* UnisonNicholas Cimini EIS-ULA President EIS Edinburgh Napier UniversityJane Doolan NEC member (PC) Unison Jon Gamble BEC DfT London & South East Branch PCSJanice Godrich, National President, PCS Elane Heffernan NEC member UCUIan Hodson National President, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union BFAWUZita Holbourne, Vice-President, PCS Pete Jackson Midlands region vice chair PCS Diana James Assistant Branch Secretary - Islington (Unison) (PC) UnisonChris Jones NEC member UCUJennifer Kidman Vice Chair East London branch Unite CommunityCouncillor Mike Langley South west political committee Unite Bristol city council Rhiannon Lockley UCU NEC -Dudley South CLP UCUDorothy Macedo Deputy chair South Coast Unite Community Unite Community Lisa Mahoney-Pearce, Joint Division Secretary, Dudley NEUToby Mallinson, Joint Division Secretary, NEU SHEFFIELD Division Richard McEwan UCU National Negotiator UCUMerilyn Moos Chair, UCU London Retired branch (in personal capacity) UCU RetiredCarlo Morelli NEC member UCUDave Muritu NEC member UCUSimon Murch, National Executive (South Yorkshire), NEU (NUT Section) Tim Nicholls Branch Secretary, DWP Dorset PCS PCS Weymouth JCChristina Paine NEC member UCUEric Parker Branch Financial Officer CWU Royal MailTony Phillips Branch secretary, London Fire Brigade Unison (PC) UnisonDavid Radford International Officer (PC) UNISON Oxford City CouncilJulia Roberts NEC member UCUNita Sanghera UCU Vice president UCUStefan Simms, National Executive, NEU John Sullivan NEC member UCUAndy Summers Executive Media spokesman NEU (NUT) WarwickshireDr Andy Thompson West Mids Regional Cttee, F&GP, PC UniteSean Vernell NEC member UCUSean Wallis NEC member UCU
*Personal capacity See the full list as of 9am 07/09/18 here: https://tinyurl.com/IHRAtradeunionletterfullsigs
Signatures will be circulated online and via social media - the letter organisers intend to also offer the letter to the media for publication. Please leave an email address if you would like to be updated on progress with this campaign.