Open letter from trade unionists on the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and examples
We are deeply concerned by the accelerating pressure on the labour movement to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and the associated examples and urge our fellow trade unionists to stand firm in opposition to this divisive move.

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 UCU
Mary Adossides President Brent Trades Council
Ian Allinson Former EC member, Branch chair and NISC member Unite
Andy Bain, ex-President, TSSA
Professor Harriet Bradley Chair, South West Region UCU UWE
Mandy Brown NEC member - London Regional Secretary - Lambeth College UCU
Mike Calvert Unison - Deputy Branch Secretary Islington (PC)* Unison
Nicholas Cimini EIS-ULA President EIS Edinburgh Napier University
Jane Doolan NEC member (PC) Unison
Jon Gamble BEC DfT London & South East Branch PCS
Janice Godrich, National President, PCS
Elane Heffernan NEC member UCU
Ian Hodson National President, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union BFAWU
Zita Holbourne, Vice-President, PCS
Pete Jackson Midlands region vice chair PCS
Diana James Assistant Branch Secretary - Islington (Unison) (PC) Unison
Chris Jones NEC member UCU
Jennifer Kidman Vice Chair East London branch Unite Community
Councillor Mike Langley South west political committee Unite Bristol city council
Rhiannon Lockley UCU NEC -Dudley South CLP UCU
Dorothy Macedo Deputy chair South Coast Unite Community Unite Community
Lisa Mahoney-Pearce, Joint Division Secretary, Dudley NEU
Toby Mallinson, Joint Division Secretary, NEU SHEFFIELD Division
Richard McEwan UCU National Negotiator UCU
Merilyn Moos Chair, UCU London Retired branch (in personal capacity) UCU Retired
Carlo Morelli NEC member UCU
Dave Muritu NEC member UCU
Simon Murch, National Executive (South Yorkshire), NEU (NUT Section)
Tim Nicholls Branch Secretary, DWP Dorset PCS PCS Weymouth JC
Christina Paine NEC member UCU
Eric Parker Branch Financial Officer CWU Royal Mail
Tony Phillips Branch secretary, London Fire Brigade Unison (PC) Unison
David Radford International Officer (PC) UNISON Oxford City Council
Julia Roberts NEC member UCU
Nita Sanghera UCU Vice president UCU
Stefan Simms, National Executive, NEU
John Sullivan NEC member UCU
Andy Summers Executive Media spokesman NEU (NUT) Warwickshire
Dr Andy Thompson West Mids Regional Cttee, F&GP, PC Unite
Sean Vernell NEC member UCU
Sean 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.

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