Tag Archives: IHRA

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?

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Labour’s first post-‘IHRA’ anti-Semitism accusations have been made – and they abuse the new rules

Remember when right-wing Labour MPs were screaming for the party to adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism with all its examples, including those that make it almost impossible to criticise the Israeli government?

Remember how those people swore blind that adopting these examples would not lay party members open to false accusations by those abusing the new rules?

Well, they lied.

(Or at least, they have been proved wrong.)

The first accusations under the new system are starting to come to light, and they are damning.

Consider the case of Eleanor Penny, a correspondent for Novara Media, who happens to be Jewish.

It seems – and please correct me if I’m mistaken – that parts of this video in which Ms Penny states that it isn’t anti-Semitic to criticise Israel, holding it to the same standard as other countries, are being used as the evidence against her.

Fortunately there are those among the rest of us who are not willing to lie down and put up with this nonsense:

For what my word is worth (not much at the moment, owing to my own suspension by Labour after allegations of anti-Semitism – a suspension that is now in its 16th disgraceful month), Labour should not just dismiss the complaint.

The party needs to make a sincere apology for allowing such an abuse of its complaints system to take place – as it should with other false complaints such as that against me.

And does the complaint itself count as anti-Semitism, as it is intended to create discrimination against a Jew?

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Israel’s Arab MPs back Corbyn – and oppose IHRA definition – in antisemitism row

In a Knesset session, Arab MPs protest against recent legislation that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

If your knee-jerk reaction to the headline is, “They would, wouldn’t they?” then you need to read what follows.

You see, the letter from the Joint List MPs in the Israeli Knesset – who include one Jewish representative – could really put the cat among the pigeons.

It highlights the double-standard of a UK organisation setting Jews above all other minorities – giving them protections available to nobody else – when the self-defined “nation-state of the Jewish people” has just stolen rights from all minorities in Israel.

It highlights the fact that the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism – which the Labour Party in the UK is under extreme pressure to adopt in full – prohibits opposition to Zionism, which is not a characteristic of Judaism but a political philosophy that, as characterised by the government of Israel, is racist.

Where does this put those in the UK who are demanding that Labour adopt the IHRA definition?

Where does it put Gordon Brown, who has put pressure on Labour’s NEC to adopt IHRA in full, “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately”, saying Labour is all about equality and solidarity?

IHRA would grant Jewish people more privileges than any other minority in the UK. That’s not equality. The demand that Labour supports Zionism is not solidarity.

It would be collusion in racism, as the Joint List letter makes clear.

Where does it put Margaret Hodge, who has admitted that the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party is about right-wingers like herself and Mr Brown trying to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party?

She said: “The problem is that he is the problem.”

It puts them on particularly weak territory.

And where does it put Labour’s National Executive Committee, which is due to vote in a meeting on Tuesday, on whether to adopt the full IHRA definition, with all its examples including support for Zionism with all the implications of support for racism that it entails?

If it supports the change, the NEC will be deliberately provoking constituency party units that have supported the current code of conduct, which supports the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism but omits some examples in favour of explanations that improve on those put forward by the IHRA – removing ambiguities that prohibit criticism of Zionism and/or policies of the Israeli government?

It leaves them up to their necks in the… soup.

If they support a move to describe criticism of racist Israeli policies as anti-Semitic; if they support demands to prohibit criticism of the racist, land-grabbing and genocidal political philosophy that supports such policies; if they support self-determination for Jewish people but not for Palestinians…

They will be worse than those who are demanding it of them – because they will be silencing international condemnation that may be the only way to prevent the name of Palestine becoming just another entry in a history book – and the Palestinian people being the victims of another avoidable genocide.

A political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel’s parliament have broken ranks with fellow legislators to announce their support for Jeremy Corbyn.

In a letter to the Guardian, the Knesset members said they commended the Labour leader for “his long-standing solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people”.

They added: “We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”

“As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support,” said the group, which includes the deputy speaker, Ahmad Tibi. But they added that the definition of antisemitism “goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism”.

Arab and other minorities in Israel have felt under threat after the Knesset passed a law in July declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination, encouraging Jewish settlement, and downgrading the status of the Arabic language.

The Joint List letter said Palestinian citizens of Israel have “yet to experience a single day of equality”, adding that millions more in the West Bank live under occupation and “under siege in the Gaza Strip”.

“Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight,” it said. “With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever.”

Source: Israel’s Arab MPs back Corbyn in antisemitism row | World news | The Guardian

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QC criticises IHRA definition of anti-Semitism as ‘not fit for purpose’

“A particular problem with the IHRA definition is that it is likely in practice to chill free speech, by raising expectations of pro-Israeli groups that they can successfully object to legitimate criticism of Israel and correspondingly arouse fears in NGO’s and student bodies that they will have events banned, or else will have to incur considerable expense to protect them by taking legal action. Either way, they may not organise such events.”

The definition of antisemitism adopted by the government is not fit for the purpose of decision making, declares Geoffrey Robertson QC in an opinion published today.

The opinion, which was produced to advise the Palestinian Return Centre, states that the definition does not cover the most insidious forms of hostility to Jewish people and the looseness of the definition is liable to chill legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel and coverage of human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Mr Robertson, an expert on freedom of speech and human rights, who has lectured on genocide at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has criticised Theresa May for adopting a definition which was not intended to be binding and which was not drafted as a comprehensible definition. By pivoting on expression that arouses hatred (a “very strong word”) it does not cover speech that arouses hostility, or which “politely spreads the poison of prejudice” against Jews as a race. He evinces surprise that Jewish organisations are advocating acceptance of the full definition by the Labour Party and other organisations have not realised that it fails to protect Jews from many prevalent kinds of antisemitism.

Source: Eminent QC Criticises IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism as “Not fit for purpose” in Opinion Published Today

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Even full acceptance of the IHRA examples of anti-Semitism won’t stop Labour’s backstabbers from attacking Jeremy Corbyn

Joan Ryan MP: This shot is taken from the Al-Jazeera documentary series The Lobby, in which Ms Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, is told by Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy’s then-political officer, that his government was providing a one million pound slush fund for her organisation to undermine people considered to be enemies of that country’s administration. Mr Masot was shipped back to Israel after the documentary series revealed that he was conspiring with Britons to undermine the UK government.

Why are Labour’s leaders agonising over this? We have an admission that the row over the party’s definition of anti-Semitism is artificial, courtesy of The Jewish Chronicle.

For weeks, supporters of the Israeli government have been pressuring the Labour leadership to accept the full IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism, with all the examples including those that forbid any criticism of Israel and Zionism (I’m paraphrasing for brevity; you can look them up for yourself).

But now we see Labour MP and Israeli government poodle Joan Ryan (she is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, so I believe the implied criticism is justified) saying attacks on Mr Corbyn will not stop, even if Labour adopts the full IHRA definition with examples.

So Labour has nothing to gain from doing so.

The definition and examples of anti-Semitism in Labour’s code of conduct are better than those put forward by the IHRA. The only people suggesting otherwise are those who have a vested interest in silencing criticism of the Israeli government and its genocidal ongoing eradication of the Palestinian people (and those who have been duped by their claims).

And let’s face it: The attacks on Mr Corbyn have been pathetically ridiculous. He was at a wreath-laying ceremony in a cemetery where none of the terrorists involved in the Munich attack on Israelis were buried; he was at the wedding of a man who said something anti-Semitic four years later, and had no way of knowing.

Other party members have been attacked with equally specious, unevidenced claims.

I’m one of them! To help me take legal action against those who have made false claims against me, please visit my JustGiving page.

See for yourself what Ms Ryan has said:

Even after all that has happened over the past four weeks, the leadership appears to be desperately trying to wriggle out of accepting IHRA. Instead it seems determined to protect the rights of those who wish to call the Jewish people’s right to self-determination a “racist endeavour”.

That some have decided to put this right over the express wishes of Britain’s Jews is beyond arrogant and insensitive. IHRA needs no additions, deletions or qualifications.

Nor should we pretend that even full acceptance of IHRA ends the battle against antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Ms Ryan’s article could have been written by an Israeli government propagandist.

Particularly offensive is her statement that Mr Corbyn claims to be willing to talk with anyone who wishes to bring about peace, and her outraged assertion that he will not talk with Israelis.

Of course, we have only her word for that. But if true, doesn’t that indicate that the representatives of the Israeli government have no interest in peace – at least until they have wiped all traces of Palestine off the world map?

Source: Jeremy Corbyn appals me – and his behaviour will get no better – The Jewish Chronicle

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‘Universally-accepted’ definition of anti-Semitism isn’t even accepted by its author

Kenneth Stern: The author of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism opposes its use as demanded by the groups that have been attacking the Labour Party.

I have mentioned in previous articles on the Labour anti-Semitism row that the author of the IHRA working definition of it is on the record as having rejected the use to which organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews are putting it.

His name is Kenneth Stern and he know better than the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, Labour Friends of Israel, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, any right-wing Labour MP and the Israeli government. If you don’t accept that, your opinion is not worth our time.

Here are his reasons:

According to the latest hysterical criteria of the Israel lobby* and their camp followers, the original drafter of the so-called IHRA definition of antisemitism, an avowed Zionist, should himself be categorised as an antisemite, or perhaps a “kapo”. For that is the conclusion one must reach if one accepts the assertion that anyone who challenges any aspect of the holy writ that the IHRA definition has become is an antisemite.

The drafter of what later became popularly known as the EUMC or IHRA definition of antisemitism,including its associated examples, was the U.S. attorney Kenneth S. Stern. However, in written evidence submitted to the US congress last year, Stern charged that his original definition had been used for an entirely different purpose to that for which it had been designed. According to Stern it had originally been designed as a ”working definition” for the purpose of trying to standardise data collection about the incidence of antisemitic hate crime in different countries. It had never been intended that it be used as legal or regulatory device to curb academic or political free speech. Yet that is how it has now come to be used. In the same document Stern specifically condemns as inappropriate the use of the definition for such purposes, mentioning in particular the curbing of free speech in UK universities, and referencing Manchester and Bristol universities as examples. Here is what he writes:

“The EUMC “working definition” was recently adopted in the United Kingdom, and applied to campus. An “Israel Apartheid Week” event was cancelled as violating the definition. A Holocaust survivor was required to change the title of a campus talk, and the university [Manchester] mandated it be recorded, after an Israeli diplomat [ambassador Regev] complained that the title violated the definition.[See here]. Perhaps most egregious, an off-campus group citing the definition called on a university to conduct an inquiry of a professor (who received her PhD from Columbia) for antisemitism, based on an article she had written years before. The university [Bristol] then conducted the inquiry. And while it ultimately found no basis to discipline the professor, the exercise itself was chilling and McCarthy-like. [square brackets added]”

Of course the groups which were behind this “McCarthy-like” repression of free speech condemned by Stern are the very same ones which are now engaged in the current vendetta against Corbyn. For example in the case of the Bristol University lecturer who was subjected to an inquiry into false accusations of antisemitism, it was the misnamed Campaign Against Antisemitism, in reality an aggressively pro-Israel lobby group, which had called for her to be sacked unless she recanted.

* I use the term “Israel Lobby” as a shorthand for those who use false or wildly exaggerated charges of antisemitism against the Labour party as a cover for their real goals which are (a) to make pro-Palestinian activism impossible within the Labour Party, and (b) to ensure that Corbyn is removed as leader of the Labour party. In reality, as Moshe Machover has repeatedly pointed out, this is a loose coalition of rather different political groups from the centre-right to the far right, some of which are connected to pro-Israel and rightwing Jewish organisations, but some of which have no particular connection or interest in either Judaism or the Israel-Palestine conflict, but are simply using the antisemitism hysteria as a means to attack the Corbyn political project. Some have suggested that the term “anti-Palestinian Lobby” might be a more appropriate terminology.

Oh, it had to be the CAA behind an aggressive attempt at censorship of free speech!

Mr Stern continues:

Imagine a definition designed for Palestinians. If “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist” is antisemitism, then shouldn’t “Denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination, and denying Palestine the right to exist” be anti-Palestinianism? Would they then ask administrators to police and possibly punish campus events by pro-Israel groups who oppose the two state solution, or claim the Palestinian people are a myth?

The full article is well worth reading and may be found here: Why the man who drafted the IHRA definition condemns its use :: Jewish Voice for Labour

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Slavishly adopting the IHRA examples of anti-Semitism won’t help Labour

Left-wing Labour NEC candidate Huda Elmi makes good points in the Independent article quoted below – although it is sad that some received wisdom is still being regurgitated unquestioned.

For example, we are told that there is “a real sense of alarm” in many parts of the Jewish community in the UK.

Isn’t that because of mass media attempts to stir up such alarm – with hardly any hard evidence to support them?

It is only days since Jewish businesswoman Mandy Blumenthal had her feet metaphorically swept out from under her by Victoria Derbyshire, who pointed out that there is hardly any evidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but a wealth of proof that the party has tightened its procedures for fighting it in any case.

And this provides us with what should be our main reason for rejecting calls to adopt all the examples that support the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism: It will increase false accusations, rather than supporting the fight against real hatred of Jews because they are Jews.

Instead, Labour needs to stop looking for ways to find innocent people guilty, and try instead to exercise some sense in examining the claims that are being made – and the people making them.

If you have to twist somebody’s words to make them look bad, then they don’t have any charge to answer and the integrity of their accuser is to be questioned.

Likewise if you have to shoehorn behaviour into one of the IHRA examples in order to make them seem guilty. If it isn’t obviously an expression of hatred towards Jews for being Jews, then it probably isn’t actually one.

Here’s Huda Elmi:

The biggest contention that my fellow critics of the IHRA examples have is with a particular one that focuses on calling the state of Israel a racist endeavour. IHRA’s defenders like to say that it allows for criticism of the policies of Israel, but not of the endeavour of building the Israeli state per se (that is to say, Zionism).

But this is an impossible distinction to maintain in practice. Allowing criticism of policies but not allowing a discussion of the ideologies or political movements that are behind those policies is nonsensical. It is like saying you are allowed to criticise privatisation, because it is a policy, but you aren’t allowed to link that to neoliberalism as the ideology that upholds it.

Adopting a formal position that carries with it well documented ambiguity over key questions of free speech on Israel will only raise tensions further, create uproar and mayhem in many sections of the party and provide a never ending supply of rows and media stories that will only erode the trust of the Jewish community further.

Even Kenneth Stern, who helped author the IHRA definition, opposes its accession to concrete legal definition and a framework for tackling antisemitism. Lawyers across the political spectrum, academics and institutions see no legal merit or status to the document. In the Labour Party, it would do nothing to help clear the backlog of cases, which would only be confused further by such an unclear and imprecise set of examples.

Whether we adopt the full definition or not, intense disagreement on Israel and on Zionism will continue to exist at all levels of the party. Any proposal that does not recognise that fact will not be compatible with the need to detoxify spaces infused with the bitter atmosphere that make Jewish Labour Party members feel unsafe in the first place.

Source: Accepting the full IHRA definition is not the answer to Labour’s antisemitism crisis – here’s what the party should do next | The Independent

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Jonathan Freedland is my useful idiot

Useful idiot: Jonathan Freedland.

As propogandists for the pro-Israeli government, pro-Zionist, anti-Jew lobby go, Jonathan Freedland is actually quite handy.

His latest article certainly does its bit in trying to set British Jews apart from the rest of our society and increase hatred against them, under a headline that claims an attitude for all British Jews that they do not have, and a response from the Labour Party that it did not make.

But in fact all he really achieves is the provision of useful information for commentators like me.

He’s my useful idiot – a propagandist for my side of the anti-Semitism argument who doesn’t understand what he is doing.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons his article is wrong-headed. I’ve got what I wanted from it and don’t need to, because someone else has done it for me.

Here’s Tony Greenstein: Like me, he has been smeared as an anti-Semite – probably because he makes very good points about the people for whom Mr Freedland works.

Here, he makes very good points about Mr Freedland’s … claims:

  1. Yes Zion is an integral part of the Jewish religion. However it has never had, until the late colonial period, any political significance. That was why when Zionism arose in the late 19th Century its fiercest opponents were Orthodox Jews.
  2. If the idea of Israel/Zion had more than a spiritual significance why was it when the great emigration of two and a half million Jews from Czarist Russia occurred from the mid 19th century to 1914, barely one percent went to Palestine?  There were no borders stopping them. The religious significance of Zion is not and never has been a justification for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.  Palestine was not a land without a people for a people without a land.  That is a colonial myth.
  3. Jews in Britain are not an ethnic minority, they are a religious minority and part of white British society.  They are not in any way an oppressed group.
  4. Nowhere does Freedland explain why the Oxford English Dictionary definition of anti-Semitism, ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews’ is not sufficient to deal with genuine 24 carat anti-Semites. This six word definition is more than adequate to deal with those who talk about a ‘hook-nosed, bloodthirsty Jew’. There is also the definition drawn up by Brian Klug of Oxford University, in his lecture ‘What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Antisemitsm’? Echoes of shattering glass at the Jewish Museum in Berlin on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.  Klug’s defined anti-Semitism as ‘a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.’  Is 21 words.
  5. Nowhere does Freedland explain why the IHRA definition, 500+ words, including 11 ‘examples’ of anti-Semitism, 7 related to Israel, is necessary.
  6. Freedland says that the IHRA definition is near universally accepted’. This is untrue. The IHRA definition is rejected by anti-racist, Muslim, Palestinian and civil society groups such as Liberty and the University College Union. It is though universally accepted by state bodies and governments, including the anti-Semitic governments of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria. Yes, anti-Semites have no problems with a definition of anti-Semitism that is based on support for Israel. Today the favourite refrain of anti-Semites and neo-Nazis such as the founder of the Alt-Right Richard Spencer, who defines himself as a White Zionist, is that however much they dislike Jews they love Israel.
  7. Surely Freedland cannot be unaware that the Trump administration, which combines anti-Semitism and ultra-Zionism, also supports the IHRA?  An administration that contained anti-Semites such as Steve Bannon, who objected to his children attending school with whiny Jewish brats’ and Sebastian Gorka with his membership of the neo-Nazi Vitezi Rend?
  8. Even leaving the aforementioned aside, why does Freedland feels the need to insult the intelligence of Guardian’s readers?  Does Freedland really have such contempt for their intelligence that he treats them like the Daily Mail treats their readership? Leaving aside Freedland’s cheap reference to Thereisienstadt concentration camp or the gauche picture of the Warsaw Ghetto, although we know that comparisons with Nazi Germany, when made by Israel’s critics, even if they are Jewish, are ‘anti-Semitic’ according to the IHRA.
  9. Freedland states that ‘the IHRA text explicitly says that if you criticise Israel the way you criticise other countries, it “cannot be regarded as antisemitic”. Most readers will not check the IHRA’s wording and will trust that what Freedland says is accurate. After all senior editors of the Guardian don’t lie, or do they?
  10. In fact the IHRA contains two references to criticism of Israel. The first states that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’. The only problem is that Israel is a unique ethno nationalist state which is a state of the ‘Jewish people’ wherever they may reside but not of its own citizens. This is entrenched in the Jewish Nation State Bill.
  11. The second reference states that anti-Semitism consists of ‘Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’ I fail to understand why, even if someone did expect higher standards of Israel (e.g. because it claims the Holocaust as its moral legacy) that that would be anti-Semitic. Racism is about people not states.
  12. Israel is not a democratic nation, indeed it is not a nation. There is no Israeli nationality. It maintains a military dictatorship over 5+ million Palestinians and when they protest it guns them down. Israel is a state that uses torture, imprisons and abuses young children and locks people up without trial. Arabs are effectively tolerated guests not even second class citizens of Israel. A situation where Arab Israelis do not have access to 93% of the land, where Israeli Jews demonstrate against an Arab family moving into the Jewish city of Afula is not a democracy.
  13. The IHRA has, according to Hugh Tomlinson QC, a ‘potential chilling effect’ on freedom of speech . No less a person that Kenneth Stern, the author of the IHRA, in a written deposition to the House of Representatives in November 2017 described how the IHRA had been used to ‘restrict academic freedom and punish political speech’ and that it had‘chilled pro-Palestinian expression.’ How strange that Freedland omitted the above in is heart wrenching tale of Jewish suburbia.

If you really want to read some of Freedland’s screed, the link is below. Then, I expect, you’ll be able to think of your own objections to his claims.

Personally, I looked up The Guardian‘s page on Facebook and reported the article as fake news.

It’s also anti-Semitic – claiming that Jews as a people have responsibility for the offensive behaviour of a small group.

And it is offensive to try to force the rest of us into supporting a policy that forbids criticism of a foreign government’s homicidal – if not genocidal – activities. Just ask the United Nations.

Source: Yes, Jews are angry – because Labour hasn’t listened or shown any empathy | Jonathan Freedland | Opinion | The Guardian

Another Labour MP falls foul of her local party members – this time over anti-Semitism

Louise Ellman: Where do her loyalties lie – with her party, with her constituents, or with the Tory-run Board of Deputies of British Jews?

This is self-explanatory, courtesy of Skwawkbox:

Earlier this week, Louise Ellman was one of two Labour MPs expected to propose a motion at the weekly PLP (parliamentary Labour party) meeting. The motion was ultimately deferred until early September, but constitutes an attempt to manoeuvre Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) into abandoning Labour’s Code of Conduct.

That code endorses the IHRA’s (International Holocaust Remembrance Association) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism – which describes itself as not legally binding, making it unusable as a party rule without clarifications – but, as the ‘working’ title invites, it builds on, clarifies and reinforces it by elaborating on some of the ‘examples’ that experts, including the working definition’s original creator, agree can be used to inhibit legitimate criticism of the behaviour of the Israeli government.

Ms Ellman has also appeared on national television this week to attack the code, saying that many MPs “referred to their own constituents” when voicing their objections during the PLP meeting.

Some of those constituents, including Jewish members, had their say tonight on Labour’s Code of Conduct at the monthly meeting of the Liverpool Riverside CLP (constituency Labour party) of which Ms Ellman is the MP, where a motion supporting Labour’s Code of Conduct had been tabled.

Members voted by more than three to one in support of the motion and therefore in support of Labour’s code.

Source: IHRA-motion MP’s CLP votes overwhelmingly to support Labour code | The SKWAWKBOX

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