ANDREW McKie's article on the ongoing issue of alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party seeks to attack the party and its leader on the grounds of so-called intolerance and derides them as "lefty Liberals" (“Why are self-styled lefty liberals often so intolerant?”, The Herald July 24).

Mr McKie's diatribe affects the moral high ground by accusing Mr Corbyn of adopting double standards in matters of foreign affairs which somewhat misses the point.

Rather than recommending the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism wholesale, the Labour Party National Executive Committee has sensibly chosen to insist that criticism of the state of Israel or its policies should not, by its very nature, be viewed as anti- Semitic.

It is profoundly wrong to label the Labour Party as being anti-Semitic for refraining from adopting IHRA guidelines in their entirety. The party has cherry picked the IHRA's definition to select an interpretation of anti-Semitism that it feels is fair, informed and morally defensible.

Following the widespread denunciation that the Labour Party and its leader have had to endure regarding the alleged presence of anti- Semitism in the Labour Party in recent times, it would have been much easier, and possibly more pragmatic politically, to adopt the definition of the IHRA and move on.

However, the party has decided that questioning the validity of or debating the ethical merits of the political strategies employed by the state of Israel (democracy or not) internally and externally must be " a legitimate part of modern political discourse".

It is difficult to reasonably disagree with this view at the end of a month that has witnessed Israeli forces begin a forcible demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan-al-Ahman, near East Jerusalem, as the extension of Israeli settlements continue apace. In addition, 134 Palestinian women were injured along with a number of journalists, as they continue their protests in the Gaza Strip against Israeli occupation of their historical homes. This followed the shooting of a number of young Palestinians in Gaza and the death of an 11-year-old boy.

Surely no government should be exempt from scrutiny regarding its policies involving human rights, moral principles and the dignity of peoples or individuals. An acceptance of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by the Labour Party without introspection would be a political expedient and a moral fudge.

Owen Kelly,

8 Dunvegan Drive, Stirling.

ANDREW McKie’s article is a depressing recycling of the usual prejudices and distortions about the Labour Party and anti-Semitism without any attempt to seriously consider the issues involved. Here are a few facts. His assertion that the Labour Party is dominated by anti-Semites is undermined by evidence supplied by the very group that organised the demonstration against Jeremy Corbyn. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism commissioned a YouGov survey that found Labour supporters less likely than Conservatives to agree with anti-Semitic statements. Both groups showed a significant fall in anti-Semitic attitudes over the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 years which coincide with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, but this fall was greatest among Labour supporters.

However, that is not the worst of Mr McKie’s distortions. He obfuscates the key issue that is causing conflict inside the Labour Party. The definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which he wants adopted unchanged, is controversial because, as it is currently framed it could be used to inhibit criticism of the state of Israel and this in the context of the recent brutal treatment of protestors in Gaza and the “nation-state” law passed by the Israeli Knesset that stipulates: “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”

It is no good to claim that no-one could be convicted of anti-Semitism of the basis of reasonable criticism of Israel because that is precisely what some people are campaigning for: in March of this year a petition was handed into 10 Downing Street that called for the IHRA text, as is, to be given legal force and for campaigns drawing parallels between Israeli government policy and apartheid to be criminalised.

We need clarity on this important issue, not ignorant anti-Labour point scoring.

Vince Mills,

Flat 2, 49 Partickhill Road, Glasgow.