UK Labour Party apologizes after banning pro-Palestinian group from conference

Written by on September 4, 2021

The Labour Party apologized after banning Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) pro-Palestinian group from speaking at an annual conference on Friday. According to the Middle East Monitor, this came amid a “crackdown on pro-Palestine activism.”

Jess Bernard, chair of the party’s youth wing Young Labour, announced on Twitter, “The most concrete information I have been given is that anyone from Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be refused as a speaker, as will Jeremy Corbyn,” the Middle East Monitor reported.

“Appalled that PSC who have had a space at the conference for years would be silenced,” Bernard added.

The most concrete information I have been given is that anyone from Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be refused as a speaker, as will Jeremy Corbyn. I’ve requested this in writing with reasoning. Appalled that PSC who have had a space at conference for years would be silenced.

— Jess Barnard (@JessicaLBarnard) August 31, 2021

According to the Middle East Eye, PSC stated that it was informed by Labour officials that previous statements about the group being banned from speaking at the conference had been a “mistake” and that they would be invited.

The statement added that concerns had been voiced that “PSC’s support for the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) might violate the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of antisemitism,” but that the decision to forbid the group from speaking had been in error, the Middle East Eye reported.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, gives a speech at the EEF National Manufacturing conference, in London, Britain, February 19, 2019 (credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, gives a speech at the EEF National Manufacturing conference, in London, Britain, February 19, 2019 (credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)

In recent years, pro-Palestinian activists within the Labour Party, including Jeremy Corbyn, who served as party leader from 2015 to 2010, have been heavily criticized for inadequately responding to alleged antisemitism within the party, leading to the expulsion of party members.

The PSC had expressed frustration with pressures for the Labour Party to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, according to the Middle East Eye.

The IHRA defines antisemitism on its website as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Examples of antisemitism listed on the website include “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

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