Divisions on the Corbynite left over Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism are deepening. According to a Jewish News report – which has not been denied – Momentum’s Jon Lansman has for weeks been lobbying the Labour leadership to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, with all 11 of its examples.
“Like many other leading party members close to the leadership, he recognises the necessity of agreeing that definition in order to be able to begin to rebuild trust with the Jewish community, whatever concerns we may have about the application of some examples,” a source close to Lansman who is a Jewish member of Labour’s ruling national executive tells the paper.
In an explicit criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s response in a much-criticised Guardian article last week, they add that despite standing by the party’s code of conduct, he “regretted” the leader had made no “firm commitment” to adopt all of the IHRA definition’s examples.
The intervention speaks to Labour’s defining division on the issue. As Stephen Bush writes in his column for this week’s New Statesman, Lansman’s view is that the party should do it all it can to reassure British Jews, and with it reclaim the ability to set the agenda on other issues like the economy. Others, chief among them Corbyn and his strategy chief Seumas Milne, see the row as a foreign policy issue.
It is abundantly clear at this point that the only thing the Labour leadership can do to reassure the Jewish community and regain its trust is to adopt the IHRA definition and its examples in full. And in that sense, the most significant aspect of the JN’s story isn’t that Lansman is lobbying to that effect. His doing so is entirely consistent with his approach to the row to date.
No, the most telling fact is that those calls have been ignored for so long, even as the party’s standing in the Jewish community plumbs new nadir after new nadir. That the story still is one of Lansman lobbying unsuccessfully for compromise rather than an actual compromise confirms that this row is a long way from resolution. Corbynites still can’t agree what the problem is, let alone how to solve it. And by now, that almost certainly means they have missed their opportunity to fulfill Lansman’s aim of reassuring the Jewish community.