Next week the UK Labour Party’s governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), will be voting on whether to adopt examples of antisemitism put forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in its definition of antisemitism. Pete Gregson wrote to all 26 NEC candidates to seek their views on the vote. Of the 12 responses that came back, 5 were for adopting the full IHRA definition and examples, 6 were for no change, and 1 was unsure. Of those in favor, he posed the question “If it’s passed and I said Israel is a racist state, would I get expelled?”
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In a few days Britain’s Labour Party will decide if it will adopt a controversial definition of anti-Semitism. Norman Finkelstein writes, “If the Labour Party adopts these taboos, respected scholarship will be suppressed while Israel will become the beneficiary of a pernicious double standard.”
Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine writes, “We call on everyone to see that creating a largely-mythical anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ in the Labour Party is one of the few tools left to ailing and desperate establishment hacks wanting to smear Corbyn and maintain UK support for Israel, no matter how many Palestinians the Israeli army slaughters, or how many houses, schools, and hospitals Israeli jets destroy in Gaza. In the face of this, Zionist groups with a history of uncritical support for Israel claim that Corbyn presents an existential threat to British Jews? This is obscene, hypocritical scaremongering.”
Members of the Liberal Democrat party in the UK publish an open letter to party leaders, opposing their definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel, which led to suspension of a party organization for social media posts. “Israel deserves same treatment as China, Russia or other violators of human rights,” the letter-writers say.
The “vast majority of world Jewry” perceive Roger Waters, Marc Lamont Hill, and Linda Sarsour to be anti-Semites because they have called for democracy in Israel and Palestine, say 80 groups trying to end UMass’s sponsorship of a May 4 forum on– the quashing of speech on Palestinian human rights. The letter is classic McCarthyism, says organizer Jeremy Earp.
Last week, the German organization Jewish Voice for a Just peace in the Middle East received a peace prize from the city of Göttingen. The mayor promptly revoked the prize because the group supports BDS. Iris Hefets explains why it is so important that Jews say things about Israel other Germans cannot.
The charges of anti-Semitism in the UK Labour Party reflect a program by Israel supporters to smear those who bear witness to apartheid in Palestine who are slowly changing the country’s global reputation. Today a growing number of Jews support Palestinian rights, while Israel is forging a strange alliance with Islamophobes and nationalists.
Jonathan Cook says that elites in the U.S. and Europe have moved on from their once-defensive posture that Zionism is not racism. Now, they are on the attack. Their presumption is that anti-Zionism is synonymous with racism and across the West there are efforts to codify this into law. Nowhere is this clearer than in France where Emmanuel Macron recently threatened to outlaw anti-Zionism.
That Israel’s own mouthpieces, including AIPAC, openly admit to using campaign cash to push pro-Israel legislation, should end any ambiguity: Ilhan Omar and all sensible citizens were being gaslit in the name of preserving the status quo and its decades of silencing Israel’s victims. This was especially clear in the liberal Zionist attacks on Omar, which sought reduce her criticisms of the lobby to little more than an anti-Semitic fantasy.
Two issues have dominated the UK over the last twelve months: Brexit and antisemitism in the Labour Party. Robert Cohen says the politics of both debates turn out to have much in common.
WoMen4All, a bizarre rip-off of the Women’s March, has set up an alternate network of “sister marches” to split the Women’s March. It is dedicated largely to condemning Palestinian rights and promoting Zionism by mixing naked Israeli war propaganda with standard feminist causes, such as enacting the Equal Rights Amendment.
On occasion of a conference of the Austrian government in the context of its Presidency of the European Union entitled “Europe Beyond Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism – Securing Jewish Life in Europe”, some of Israel’s leading Intellectuals have written an open letter titled “To Europe We Say: Don’t conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism” to the European public.
“If denying Jews the ‘right of self-determination’ is evidence of anti-Semitism, then what should we call denying the same right to those indigenes who have lived in Palestine for centuries?” Joel Doerfler on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Jaap C. Bosma considers a definition of anti-Palestinian racism and how it can be used by activists for Palestinian rights.
There are lots of good reasons to think the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, now adopted “in full” by Labour’s national committee and by Labour MPs, is, well, a bit rubbish, writes Robert Cohen: “The truth of the matter is, the Jewish community can no longer define ‘Zionism,’ or indeed ‘anti-Semitism,’ without the help of Palestinians.”
The Department of Education’s new anti-Semitism standard that bars calling Israel a racist endeavor shows the sheer arrogance of the Trump-Netanyahu axis. They are going for broke. And the liberals who obsess about Putin’s supposed control seem unable to spot which groups really have influence on Trump.
Pete Gregson on the fallout in the UK Labour Party after the vote adopting the full IHRA definition of antisemitism: “What we are seeing is a Party in fear of the media, allowing Zionists to undermine freedom of speech. What we need to do is show those in fear of bad press that the NEC cannot pay lip service to a thing that it does not believe in. For who can argue that Israel is not a racist state? It’s as if we’re allowing Theresa May and Netanyahu to write our rule book here.”
On Friday, Israeli soldiers killed 17-year-old Bilal Mustafa Khaffaja and injured at least 210 others, during the Great Return March protests in several parts of the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The New York Times says that Jeremy Corbyn brought the “anti-Semitism crisis” on himself by fixating on Israel and says not a word about Palestinian human rights, thereby demonstrating a law of western politics: The instant Palestinians start getting support from someone who might have real power, the anti-Semite accusation is wheeled out, everyone remembers Who The Real Victims Are, and Palestinians are shoved under the bus.
The British Labour Party adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which states that criticism of Israel is criticism of the Jewish people. Thus Israel frames Jews everywhere for the crime it knows that it has committed. But that’s anti-Semitic!
The UK Jewish establishment war on Jeremy Corbyn continues with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks likening him to British pol Enoch Powell, infamous for a bigoted speech. British Jewry is weakening its battle against real anti-Semitism, and weakening its connection to minority communities that face harsh discrimination.
Netanyahu’s speech on the strong surviving and weak crumbling echoes Hitler in 1923, but pointing out the resonance of Israel and Nazi Germany meets the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, Norman Finkelstein notes. And whose fault is that?
Josh Glancy writes in the New York Times that Jeremy Corbyn is guilty of “classic anti-Semitism” for saying that British Zionists lack irony, but Glancy himself has written that Zionism is “at the heart” of British Jewish identity, and most British Jews are “culturally Israeli.” Thus do Zionists conflate Jews and Israel.
A coalition of 24 Palestinian civil society groups, including the largest trade unions, professional associations and refugee networks, released a statement urging the UK Labour Party and trade unions to reject the “biased, anti-Palestinian” IHRA definition of antisemitism which seeks to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. The definition they say, “aims to silence criticism of Israeli policies that clearly violate Palestinian human rights.”
In May the benign-sounding Anti-Semitism Awareness Act appeared before the U.S Congress “to provide for consideration a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.” Sheldon Richman writes that if the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passes and is signed into law, it would threaten free speech in the academy and beyond.