Recorder letters: Antisemitism, animal testing and summer saftey online

PUBLISHED: 12:57 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:57 07 August 2018

From left: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking. Pictures: PA

From left: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking. Pictures: PA


Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Antisemitism row ‘misrepresented’

Ian Sinclair, McGrath Road, Stratford, writes:

The row about antisemitism and the Labour Party has been repeatedly misrepresented and misreported, which should be of interest to Newham Labour Party members and the wider public.

For example, the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland recently referred to the “near universally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism” (‘Jewish anger is about Labour’s failure to listen with empathy’, Guardian, July 28).

In contrast, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi from Jewish Voices For Labour explained on BBC News on July 23, 2018 that “There is no such thing as an agreed international code”.

For example, earlier this month 41 Jewish organisations across the world urged organizations “to reject the IHRA definition” as it is “worded in such a way as to be easily adopted or considered by western governments to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel... with antisemitism”.

In May the respected civil liberties NGO Liberty endorsed a resolution at its AGM warning public bodies not to adopt the IHRA definition.

Last year, 244 academics signed a letter published in the Guardian that noted the IHRA definition “can be and is being read as extending to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights… as prima facie evidence of antisemitism.”

In 2016 the cross-party House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, including Cuka Umunna MP, suggested amendments to the IHRA definition similar to what the Labour Party are now proposing.

And importantly, Kenneth Stern, the US academic who drafted the original document that has morphed into the IHRA definition, testified to the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary in November, arguing the definition “can only help to chill, if not suppress… political speech” on Israel-Palestine.

‘Horrific’ scale of animal tests

Mark Dawes, Green Party, writes:

The Home Office released the annual statistics on experiments on living animals last week and they reveal the horrific scale of animal experimentation in the UK

In 2017, 3,721,744 animals were used for the first time, including monkeys, dogs, cats, horses, mice, rats and rabbits.

The figures show the industrial scale of animal experiments which inflict pain, suffering or lasting harm at a time when there are more accurate alternatives to vivisection including using human cells and tissues and computer modeling. Animal experimentation is often inaccurate because of the vast differences between non-human-animals and humans anatomically, physiologically and pathologically.

More than a quarter of animals – 26 per cent – underwent “moderate” suffering during experimental procedures and one in 20 animals – 5pc – underwent “severe” suffering during experimental procedures.

Vivisection causes great suffering to animals and is likely to get worse under Brexit as hard-fought EU regulations on animal experiments are rolled back in the UK by a government concerned more with free market dogma rather than compassion for all living beings.

The Green Party has the strongest policies on animal protection of the major political parties and is the only party committed to stopping the obscene cruelty of animal testing.

Stay safe online this summer

Lynn Gradwell, director, Barnardo’s London region, writes:

As we start the summer holidays, I would like to make your readers aware of the risks that our children face as they potentially spend more time online - and offer some tips on how to keep them safe.

Sadly, we know that many children are seeing inappropriate content online. It is a deeply disturbing fact that children can stumble across pornography, and the ease with which children can live-stream themselves online is something that all parents should be aware of. We know that this can leave them open to grooming and abuse and can have an effect on their emotional health and wellbeing.

Back in 2015, in a Barnardo’s report some of our practitioners told us that referrals for internet related child sexual abuse support services ranged up to 75 per cent of their work. Barnardo’s has called for greater oversight of the internet industry, including a real need for an independent regulator. We are also calling on government for better information and education for parents, social workers and teachers regarding online safety.

We urge parents to try and understand the online world their child is using. Learn about the games and apps they are using and make sure that parental controls, privacy setting and online filters are being used. Internet Matters has some great parental guides on everything from live-streaming to the sites, apps and games your children might want to use.

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