Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP for Leeds North East, took to Twitter last night to say:
“I am wholly opposed to Israel Apartheid Week making its way into our academic institutions and have written to the Universities Minister to ask him to ensure that the [sic] any breaches of the IHRA definition of antisemitism are dealt with swiftly by the relevant authorities… Leeds University must fully investigate any allegations of antisemitism at these events and I urge anybody that sees antisemitism to report it. Supporting a Palestinian state should not go hand in hand with this week of hate.”
Last summer, Zionist opponents of Jeremy Corbyn mounted a concerted effort to force the party to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. As we argued at the time, the purpose of this definition is to gag legitimate criticism of Israel. Just a few months later we see a Labour MP using the IHRA definition to intimidate supporters of the Palestinian struggle.
This highlights the double standard with regards to free speech on university campuses: one set of rules for the right and another for Palestinian solidarity campaigners.
The issue of free speech on campus is a permanent moral panic news item in the mainstream press who claim that universities are safe space bubbles where challenging views are not permitted, and former Higher Education Minister Jo Jonson threatened to fine universities where students chose to no-platform far-right speakers.
That a Labour MP should appeal to the same Tory government to clamp down on Palestine Solidarity activists for having the courage to expose the apartheid nature of the Zionist state is shameful.
The apartheid character of Israel’s colonial occupation and oppression of the Palestinians is not simply the view of anti-Zionists; a 2017 report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) concluded “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
By smearing student activists before any crime has been alleged, Fabian Hamilton is trying to silence free speech on Israel, and lining up behind the Zionist campaign to present all critics of Israel’s crimes as anti-Semites.
We call on members of Leeds North East CLP to condemn Hamilton in the strongest terms and extend their support to Leeds University students championing the just cause of the Palestinians.
Israel Apartheid Week, which exists to draw attention to Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights, has spread to more than 200 universities since it originated in Toronto in 2005, and has taken place at the University of Leeds for several years.
You can find out about IAW events taking place at Leeds University here.