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We are fighting this attempt to censor us

15 November, 2018

• SOLIDARITY with Palestine will not be censored by Camden Council! On September 21 London Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) branches held a meeting at the King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Centre to discuss the recent adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which spuriously labels criticism of the existence of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic.

Prior to the meeting there was a concerted attempt by Zionist agitators to stop it taking place. But, as reported on by John Gulliver (Were they ‘spooks’ sitting at the back of the hall? September 27), they were not successful. Camden Council nonetheless sent Prevent officers to monitor the meeting and presumably report back on any alleged anti-Semitism which they witnessed.

Following the meeting we submitted a freedom of information (FOI) request, asking for the minutes and emails between council personnel and others involved in determining whether to ban the meeting or not, and then to send Prevent officers to observe it. On November 8 the council refused this request, relying on Section 36 (2) B and C of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This exemption allows public bodies to refuse to release information which is deemed “prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs”. Camden states that its discussion included “frank” advice from a “number of sources”, and that if this information were made public such a frank exchange would not be possible in future.

The council claims that “the use of public buildings by those expressing extremist views” is “a matter of significant public interest”, but that this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that frank discussion about such meetings is held behind closed doors.

The very claim that our meeting was expressing “extremist” views shows the impact of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and its adoption by the Labour Party and by the council. The RCG has a long history of anti-racist campaigning in Camden and deplores this attempt to censor us.

We are appealing against the refusal of the FOI request and will continue to campaign against Camden Council’s policing of free speech on Palestine. We call on all supporters of Palestine to complain to the council about its refusal of this FOI request, its use of Prevent spies, and its use of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism to deny free speech.



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