The Corbyn memorandum

Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering.

“My sight is failing,” she said finally. “Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?”

Robert Peston reports that Corbyn wanted a lengthy caveat appended to the NEC’s (qualified) adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.  He identifies this as the most inflammatory passage:

Here’s a transcription of the key sentence:

Nor should it be regarded as antisemitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact, or to support another settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

What’s really striking here is the separation of ‘Israel’ from ‘its policies’ or ‘the circumstances around its foundation’.  It’s not enough for Corbyn that it should be possible to describe Israel’s policies as racist or particular elements in the struggle for its foundation.  By treating ‘Israel’ as a separate third component it seems as though Corbyn wants people to be able to say that Israel as an idea, Israel in its entirety, is racist.  Or, to put this another way, he wanted to make sure people could say ‘the State of Israel is a racist endeavour.’

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