Rhea Wolfson: "zero room for anti-Semitism" in Labour
In an article for Commonspace, Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish NEC member and parliamentary candidate for Livingstone, defended the progress that has been made within Labour on combating anti-Semitism and racism, and defended Jeremy Corbyn's efforts to strengthen Labour's stance against anti-Semitism.
In her piece, she wrote that "I have never been in any doubt that the Labour Party and its leadership is committed to tackling anti-Semitism in our own party and in society but our internal processes have - up until recently - not been fit for purpose."
"Cases were dealt with too slowly and victims lost faith in the system. Our new General Secretary Jennie Formby was tasked with ensuring the party was able to deal with anti-Semitism properly and at the last NEC meeting I commended her in the work she has already put in." she said.
"Unfortunately we have seen too many cases of anti-Semitism in recent months. Some cases are clear and there is no need for discussion however, some are more complicated and there was recognition that we needed guidance to ensure continuity in our processes. The IHRA definition was adopted and a Code of Conduct was created to build on the IHRA’s illustrative examples."
Wolfson also denied that Labour had been attempting to rewrite the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism, saying "We did not create a new definition of anti-Semitism and did not seek to redefine anti-Semitism."
"I have been a victim of anti-Semitism, both in its most traditional and obvious forms through to being singled out as a Jewish woman and held to a different standard. I was very clear that we need a Code of Conduct robust enough to deal with anti-Semitism in all its forms.
"I believe that Labour’s Code of Conduct by accepting and building on the IHRA definition provides a strong set of guidelines that does just that."
She continued: "it now falls on our party to improve our processes, engage more meaningfully and ensure we once again have the trust and confidence from the Jewish community."
Labour's decision to integrate a definition of anti-Semitism into its Code of Conduct has come under fire from several backbench MPs and Jewish newspapers, although the report's defenders have pointed out that Labour's Code actually goes further in many cases than the original IHRA text.