SWU statement in solidarity with Palestine and on not endorsing the IHRA definition of antisemitism

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Our commitment to social justice encompasses both the fight against the oppression of Palestinians and the fight against antisemitism

The Social Workers Union (SWU) is an independent Trade Union dedicated to social work professionals and a member of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU). As social workers and trade unionists we are committed to defending human rights and advocating for social justice, equality, fairness, and dignity for all people.

SWU members have expressed concern about the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, and the purpose of this statement is to offer assurance and clarity regarding SWU’s position on this issue.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism itself is helpful. However, the examples added to guide this definition have been regularly used to conflate criticisms of Israel with antisemitism and to frame defending Palestinian rights as antisemitic. SWU does not endorse the IHRA definition due to the way it has been applied, interpreted, and employed in this way regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Challenging oppression is at the heart of SWU’s commitment to social justice and we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in the necessary struggle against antisemitism. SWU is committed to challenging social conditions that contribute to oppression, social exclusion, stigma, and subjugation both in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.

In 2019 SWU’s Annual General Meeting Motion committed to raising awareness of the continuing ill-treatment of Palestinian children by Israeli military forces. This has included supporting the Child Prisoners Campaign organised by the Palestine-UK Social Work Network, encouraging members to sign the campaign petition, and supporting members to join organised visits to Palestine. SWU’s decision to not endorse the IHRA definition is in line with our solidarity with the Palestinian people who are being subjected to systematic fragmentation, segregation, discrimination, and deprivation.

It is the union’s position that antisemitism must be fought at every turn, and that the fight against antisemitism should not be used to delegitimise the fight against the oppression of Palestinians by Israel’s apartheid system.