Third union boss calls on Labour to adopt anti-Semitism text in full
The intervention came as Jeremy Corbyn faced questions over his visit to a cemetery containing the graves of Palestinian terrorists.
The leader of a third major trade union has called on Labour to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.
The call from the general secretary of shopworkers’ union Usdaw, Paddy Lillis, comes after similar interventions by Unison and the GMB and intensifies pressure for a revision of Labour’s anti-Semitism code of conduct, currently subject to consultation with Jewish groups.
Jeremy Corbyn was also facing fresh questions about a 2014 visit to a Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia, after claims that photographs showed him holding a wreath near the graves of those responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The visit hit the headlines during last year’s general election campaign, when Labour said Mr Corbyn had been paying his respects at a memorial to those killed by an Israeli air strike on Palestine Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis in 1985.
But the Daily Mail said that its own visit to the Martyrs Cemetery had shown the memorial was 15 yards away from the spot where Mr Corbyn was pictured in photographs held in the Palestinian Embassy website archive.
The newspaper said the pictures were taken in front of a plaque honouring three men, including the founder of the Black September organisation which carried out the Munich atrocity and yards from the grave of PLO intelligence chief Atef Bseiso.
The director of Labour Friends of Israel, Jennifer Gerber, told the Mail: “It beggars belief that anyone would wish to honour the terrorists behind the brutal massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at Munich.
“However, it is sadly utterly unsurprising that Jeremy Corbyn appears to have done so.”
But Labour sources insisted Mr Corbyn had already provided a full answer about his presence in the cemetery, when he said last year: “I was in Tunisia at a Palestinian conference and I spoke at that Palestinian conference and I laid a wreath to all those that had died in the air attack that took place on Tunis, on the headquarters of the Palestinian organisations there.
“And I was accompanied by very many other people who were at a conference searching for peace.”
The pictures emerged amid continuing controversy over Labour’s refusal to adopt the IHRA text in full, including its list of examples of anti-Semitic behaviour.
Mr Lillis, who is a member of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, told the Jewish News he was “shocked” to find the party mired in allegations of racism.
EXCLUSIVE: Third Union boss urges Labour to adopt full IHRA definition@PaddyLillisGS of @UsdawUnion follows @DavePrentis of @unisontweets and @Tim_Roache of @GMB_union in demanding a reversal of the @UKLabour’s position on defining anti-Semitism— Jewish News (@JewishNewsUK) August 11, 2018
“Jeremy Corbyn has clearly stated that there is a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and he is right in his determination to tackle it,” said the Usdaw boss.
“If we are to do that, it is essential that the Party regains the trust of Jewish communities. As a first step we should immediately amend the Code of Conduct to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, including the examples.”
Calls for the full adoption of the IHRA text have also been made in the past few days by GMB general secretary Tim Roache and Unison’s Dave Prentis.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “The code of conduct adopts the IHRA definition and expands on and contextualises its examples to produce robust, legally sound guidelines that a political party can apply to disciplinary cases.
“The NEC upheld the adoption of the code of conduct on anti-Semitism, but in recognition of the serious concerns expressed, agreed to re-open the development of the code, in consultation with Jewish community organisations and groups, in order to better reflect their views.”