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Labour must adopt internationally agreed definition of anti-Semitism – Brown

Gordon Brown said the definition, which has been signed by 31 countries, states that criticism of Israel cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

Gordon Brown has called for the Labour Party to “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately” adopt the internationally agreed definition of anti-Semitism.

The former prime minister made the plea ahead of a meeting this week of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) on whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) declaration.

Mr Brown said it is not simply about a change in policy but was “about the soul of the Labour Party”.

He told the Jewish Labour Movement conference in Finchley, north London: “I believe that the Labour Party will change the policy.

“I believe that the Labour Party must and should change the policy.

“And I believe this problem must be solved within the Labour Party now.”

Mr Brown’s speech received a standing ovation as he outlined growing anti-Semitism among not only the “jack-booted” right, but also the “conspiracy theorist” left.

“This is a problem that is real and present and something that’s got to be dealt with now,” he said.

“I want to say to you very clearly today that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is something we should support unanimously, unequivocally and immediately.”

Mr Brown said the definition, which has been signed by 31 countries, states that criticism of Israel cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

He added: “The declaration is about this and this only: to condemn and root out, as they state, anti-Semitism, which ‘is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews’.

“And this declaration is needed now, urgently. Not as some sort of abstract document of philosophy.

“It is needed now to deal with practical threats to confront gathering dangers and on-the-ground realities of very real week-by-week threats to Jewish communities that demand an unequivocal response and unqualified resolve.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said he expects the party to adopt the definition on Wednesday referring to the NEC meeting as a “defining moment” for Labour.

He warned a failure to change the policy would “plunge the party into the worst political crisis we have seen since 1981”.

Dame Louise Ellman said she also expected the definition to be fully adopted at the meeting, but predicted the party leadership may water it down in the following days.

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