Tag Archives: Declaration

Is the Jerusalem Declaration the definition of anti-Semitism that IHRA should have been?

Interesting Twitter thread from David Rosenberg today – for all those of us who have been affected by false – IHRA definition-based – accusations of anti-Semitism.

He tweeted:

From This Writer’s point of view it is too early to say whether the new definition will do any good but I certainly hope it is a step in the right direction. The preamble to the Jerusalem Declaration makes its contrast with the IHRA working definition clear:

The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism responds to “the IHRA Definition,” the document that was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016. Because the IHRA Definition is unclear in key respects and widely open to different interpretations, it has caused confusion and generated controversy, hence weakening the fight against antisemitism. Noting that it calls itself “a working definition,” we have sought to improve on it by offering (a) a clearer core definition and (b) a coherent set of guidelines. We hope this will be helpful for monitoring and combating antisemitism, as well as for educational purposes. We propose our non-legally binding Declaration as an alternative to the IHRA Definition. Institutions that have already adopted the IHRA Definition can use our text as a tool for interpreting it.

The IHRA Definition includes 11 “examples” of antisemitism, 7 of which focus on the State of Israel. While this puts undue emphasis on one arena, there is a widely-felt need for clarity on the limits of legitimate political speech and action concerning Zionism, Israel, and Palestine. Our aim is twofold: (1) to strengthen the fight against antisemitism by clarifying what it is and how it is manifested, (2) to protect a space for an open debate about the vexed question of the future of Israel/Palestine. We do not all share the same political views and we are not seeking to promote a partisan political agenda. Determining that a controversial view or action is not antisemitic implies neither that we endorse it nor that we do not.

The guidelines that focus on Israel-Palestine (numbers 6 to 15) should be taken together. In general, when applying the guidelines each should be read in the light of the others and always with a view to context. Context can include the intention behind an utterance, or a pattern of speech over time, or even the identity of the speaker, especially when the subject is Israel or Zionism. So, for example, hostility to Israel could be an expression of an antisemitic animus, or it could be a reaction to a human rights violation, or it could be the emotion that a Palestinian person feels on account of their experience at the hands of the State. In short, judgement and sensitivity are needed in applying these guidelines to concrete situations.

The definition itself is short and sweet – and corresponds with one that This Site has been using for many years:

Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).

That is to say, anti-Semitism is discrimination etc against Jews for no other reason than because they are Jewish.

Taken in conjunction with the comments about the IHRA definition, we can see that efforts are being made to avoid any suggestion that criticising the activities of – or demanded by – the government of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic purely because it is criticism of a nation’s government. This is something that IHRA blurs and that has been misused by some of our favourite “bad faith actors”.

The Jerusalem Declaration goes further. Like the IHRA working definition, it also supplies guidelines – both general and with regard to Israel and Palestine. Here they are in full:

Guidelines

A. General

  1. It is racist to essentialize (treat a character trait as inherent) or to make sweeping negative generalizations about a given population. What is true of racism in general is true of antisemitism in particular.
  2. What is particular in classic antisemitism is the idea that Jews are linked to the forces of evil. This stands at the core of many anti-Jewish fantasies, such as the idea of a Jewish conspiracy in which “the Jews” possess hidden power that they use to promote their own collective agenda at the expense of other people. This linkage between Jews and evil continues in the present: in the fantasy that “the Jews” control governments with a “hidden hand,” that they own the banks, control the media, act as “a state within a state,” and are responsible for spreading disease (such as Covid-19). All these features can be instrumentalized by different (and even antagonistic) political causes.
  3. Antisemitism can be manifested in words, visual images, and deeds. Examples of antisemitic words include utterances that all Jews are wealthy, inherently stingy, or unpatriotic. In antisemitic caricatures, Jews are often depicted as grotesque, with big noses and associated with wealth. Examples of antisemitic deeds are: assaulting someone because she or he is Jewish, attacking a synagogue, daubing swastikas on Jewish graves, or refusing to hire or promote people because they are Jewish.
  4. Antisemitism can be direct or indirect, explicit or coded. For example, “The Rothschilds control the world” is a coded statement about the alleged power of “the Jews” over banks and international finance. Similarly, portraying Israel as the ultimate evil or grossly exaggerating its actual influence can be a coded way of racializing and stigmatizing Jews. In many cases, identifying coded speech is a matter of context and judgement, taking account of these guidelines.
  5. Denying or minimizing the Holocaust by claiming that the deliberate Nazi genocide of the Jews did not take place, or that there were no extermination camps or gas chambers, or that the number of victims was a fraction of the actual total, is antisemitic.

B. Israel and Palestine: examples that, on the face of it, are antisemitic

  1. Applying the symbols, images and negative stereotypes of classical antisemitism (see guidelines 2 and 3) to the State of Israel.
  2. Holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s conduct or treating Jews, simply because they are Jewish, as agents of Israel.
  3. Requiring people, because they are Jewish, publicly to condemn Israel or Zionism (for example, at a political meeting).
  4. Assuming that non-Israeli Jews, simply because they are Jews, are necessarily more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.
  5. Denying the right of Jews in the State of Israel to exist and flourish, collectively and individually, as Jews, in accordance with the principle of equality.

C. Israel and Palestine: examples that, on the face of it, are not antisemitic

(whether or not one approves of the view or action)

  1. Supporting the Palestinian demand for justice and the full grant of their political, national, civil and human rights, as encapsulated in international law.
  2. Criticizing or opposing Zionism as a form of nationalism, or arguing for a variety of constitutional arrangements for Jews and Palestinians in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. It is not antisemitic to support arrangements that accord full equality to all inhabitants “between the river and the sea,” whether in two states, a binational state, unitary democratic state, federal state, or in whatever form.
  3. Evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state. This includes its institutions and founding principles. It also includes its policies and practices, domestic and abroad, such as the conduct of Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, the role Israel plays in the region, or any other way in which, as a state, it influences events in the world. It is not antisemitic to point out systematic racial discrimination. In general, the same norms of debate that apply to other states and to other conflicts over national self-determination apply in the case of Israel and Palestine. Thus, even if contentious, it is not antisemitic, in and of itself, to compare Israel with other historical cases, including settler-colonialism or apartheid.
  4. Boycott, divestment and sanctions are commonplace, non-violent forms of political protest against states. In the Israeli case they are not, in and of themselves, antisemitic.
  5. Political speech does not have to be measured, proportional, tempered, or reasonable to be protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and other human rights instruments. Criticism that some may see as excessive or contentious, or as reflecting a “double standard,” is not, in and of itself, antisemitic. In general, the line between antisemitic and non-antisemitic speech is different from the line between unreasonable and reasonable speech.

The paragraph on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has already provoked squawks from the usual suspects, and I’m sure the paragraph saying it is not anti-Semitic to mention Israel in connection with apartheid either has or will.

I think they are entirely justified and that the Jerusalem Declaration is a step in the right direction.

It is a step that could not have been taken without the IHRA definition, though. Many of the guidelines seem, to This Writer, to be responses to events that have taken place since IHRA was published and adopted by so many people/organisations – and to the false accusations to which these have led.

It seems to be a necessary response to years of abuse by that faction of the pro-Zionist, pro-Israel movement that has smeared innocents (like This Writer) with false accusations for many years.

But, as I said close to the top, it’s too early to know whether this will do any good.

Those are just my opinions. What are your thoughts?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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On Human Rights Day, let’s take a moment to think about the UK Conservative government’s staggering hypocrisy


What a gang of unmitigatedly hypocritical gangsters we have in the UK’s Conservative government!

Today is Human Rights Day, with many organisations publicising the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what it means.

The UK government is among those with a message to put out, including this – which is notable for coming from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

How hypocritical.

Perhaps we should remind the Conservative government that the UK has failed to support 133 of the UN Human Rights Council’s 229 recommendations, on subjects ranging from the rights of children to the international law on abortion.

Among the recommendations that the government has declined to back, a number outline the need for the UK to limit how long someone can be held in an immigration detention centre. The UK is the only European country without such a time limit and Amber Rudd has fallen foul of the courts on several occasions for detaining people for far too long.

Britain has also declined to support recommendations on the detention of children in immigration centres.

Of a total of 229 recommendations by UN members, the government will confirm that it is supporting just 96 – 42% of the total. The government has chosen simply to “note” the remainder [Information from The Guardian].

And of course the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities found that the UK had committed “grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities” in the pursuit of the Conservative government’s so-called “welfare reforms”, as follows:

“Several measures have disproportionally and adversely affected the rights of persons with disabilities.

“Measures resulting in reduction of support provided to meet the extra cost of disability, denial of reasonable accommodation in assessment procedures and realization of the right to employment have had a discriminatory effect on persons with disabilities.

“The core elements of the rights to independent living and being included in the community, an adequate standard of living and social protection and their right to employment have been affected: persons with disabilities affected by policy changes have had their freedom of choice and control over their daily activities restricted, the extra cost of disability has been set aside and income protection has been curtailed as a result of benefit cuts, while the expected policy goal of achieving decent and stable employment is far from being attained.

“Evidence gathered nationally by the Parliament, the independent monitoring framework, universities and research institutes and centres and independent experts, has documented adverse and disproportionate effects of measures on persons with disabilities.

“The State party has not conducted a comprehensive human rights-based cumulative impact assessment even though reliable sources have indicated it is feasible.

“There is evidence that a large number of persons with disabilities have been affected (e.g. 13,900 persons with disabilities have lost their Motability schemes and therefore their adapted cars, upon implementation of Personal Independence Payment up to February 2016; 492,180 had been placed in the Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group by end of 2015; 41,792 Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group sanctions were handed out up to March 2014).”

Perhaps most damning of all:

“The impact assessments conducted by the State party prior to the implementation of several measures of its welfare reform expressly foresaw an adverse impact on persons with disabilities.”

And:

“The State party continues its policy of reducing social benefits of persons with disabilities as reflected in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.”

Finally: The UK’s Conservative government very recently voted to remove EU legislation on human rights from the UK statute book.

So let us accept no preaching from the vicar’s daughter and her Tories on human rights…

They don’t want you to have any rights at all.


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Why arguments for ‘Consent of the Governed’ are dangerous in today’s United Kingdom

Rude awakening: Try committing a crime and then telling the police you do not consent to be governed by the law you broke. This is what you'll get.

Rude awakening: Try committing a crime and then telling the police you do not consent to be governed by the law you broke. This is what you’ll get.

“This is not a law, it’s an act, so is only giving the power of law with the consent of the governed.”

That’s what Paul Young wrote in response to the Vox Political article Sleepwalking further into police state Britain as law offers new powers of repression.

His words were echoed by another commenter described only as ‘Squiggle Diggle’, who said: “Legislation only has the power of Law when consent is given by the governed… You need to know the difference between Legislation and Law, if you do not, then you are consenting to all Legislation. If you know the difference, then you can remove your consent by not allowing the powers that be to have jurisdiction over you. I really recommend you read up on this, as so good as this article is, you really don’t seem to know what the difference between Law and Legislation is, which is one of the most empowering things you can ever realise.”

My reply was that legislation is the act of making law; law is a rule or guideline set up by government to control behaviour. Consent is not implied, other than that of the electorate in voting in a government that enacts and enforces these laws. I said there is absolutely no leeway in UK law for a citizen to remove his or her consent to be governed by the laws of the land.

That was where we left it – until today, when Mike Colbourne (his name as used on Facebook – commenting here, he just used a bunch of capital letters) raised the subject again. He said: “If a Statute Act is given the force of Law by the Consent of the governed and we don’t consent then it does not apply to you! When injustice becomes Law rebellion becomes duty!”

In a nutshell, all three have been saying that if you don’t want to accept that a law applies to you, the government can’t make it apply to you.

In the United Kingdom this is not only nonsense; it is dangerous nonsense. What if somebody hears it, believes it, acts on it and gets arrested? They could be in prison for a long time because someone else didn’t understand the difference between a political theory that informed the US Declaration of Independence in an entirely separate country – and the laws of the United Kingdom.

Let’s make the law of the United Kingdom perfectly clear: There is no option which allows members of the public to choose which laws they wish to apply to them or to obey.

Those are not my words but an official response from the Ministry of Justice, to an inquiry about Consent of the Governed in 2010.

That response also states: “If you wish to ask whether all members of the public must obey the law, then that is certainly the case.”

There is no room for manoeuvre; the law is the law.

Mike’s comment suggested that he thinks statute law has less validity than, perhaps, common law. If so, he’s got it the wrong way around, as this response to a Freedom of Information request of 2009 clarifies: “Statutes can amend or replace common law in a particular area, but the common law cannot overrule or change statutes. A statute can only be overruled or amended by another, later piece of legislation. This reflects the legal and political doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty – the recognition and acceptance that Parliament is the supreme law-making authority.”

If anyone reading this thinks the situation detailed above is morally wrong or otherwise iniquitous, you need to look at ways of getting Parliament to change the law. Good luck with that. Simply saying that the law doesn’t apply to you without your consent isn’t worth the time you spend doing so.

Let that be the end of the matter.

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