Signs calling Israel a 'racist endeavour' appear across London
A series of posters calling Israel a "racist endeavour" appeared across London on Wednesday following the UK Labour Party's decision to adopt the International Holocaust Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
The signs appeared a day after the Labour party accepted the IHRA definition in full, including all 11 of the examples of anti-Semitism listed.
Social media users posted pictures of the signs, with some appearing in bus stops in iconic locations across London. The adoption of the IHRA came as Palestinian civil society groups raised concerns over the adoption of the controversial definition on anti-semitism by Labour.
Pictures of the posters appeared on the social media accounts of the pro-Palestinian group London Palestine Action who have done similar stunts in the past.
"We don't stop speaking the truth," the group said, adding that "Israel was created by ethnic cleansing, maintained by ethnic exclusion."
The action, however, split social media users. While many applauded the posters, some user described the posters as intimidating. One user claimed that “this kind of action is frightening Jewish people in this country”.
In August, a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups condemned proposals for Labour to adopt the IHRA definition, saying it would "silence criticism of Israeli policies that violate Palestinian human rights."
Earlier this year, a coalition of Jewish groups put out a statement opposing equating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel. The joint statement that comes from 40 Jewish groups from 15 different countries claims that false accusations of anti-Semitism dangerously conflates anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and apartheid.
The statement reflects the broader debate on the issue and the branding of critics of Israel or its policies as anti-Semitic.
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was incorporated into the Labour code of conduct two months ago, although the party left out four examples of anti-Semitic behaviour. The party will now include all 11 cases of anti-Semitic behaviour in its definition.
The day after the party’s ruling body adopted the IHRA definition in full; a secret ballot took place where Labour MPs voted in a majority of 205 to eight to approve the full version of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism into their standing orders.
Transport for London said it did not authorise the posters and that they have instructed their contractors to remove them.
The London Metropolitan Police has also tweeted to inform people that police in Lambeth have received reports of the fly posting in the Waterloo area and are investigating the case.
Numerous tweets have also emerged reaffirming the sentiments displayed on the posters, saying that Israel's creation came after the expulsion of thousands of people from their homes.
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, stated on BBC Politics Live that it is not at all anti-Semitic to describe a state racist and that he described the British state as a racist during the Windrush issue. MP Layla Moran responded by stating that it is blatantly anti-Semitic and that to say that an entire country is racist is entirely wrong.
Social media users have reacted to the posters with altered images, “correcting” them. The altered images state “Labour is a racist endeavour”.
The decision to adopt the IHRA’s definition came after a months' long row over anti-semitism within the party.