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.”
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.
Last week an unprecedented intervention occurred into the debate in the UK over the definition of antisemitism. Over 80 community, professional and rights-based organisations representing black, minority ethnic and diaspora peoples decried what they say is the framing of antisemitism in a way to ‘silence’ Palestinians, and other migrant groups, from speaking about their history.
In a piece in the New York Review of Books on the Labour anti-semitism controversy, Matt Seaton lumps anti-Zionism with anti-Jewish bigotry. The unspoken assumption of the article is that Palestinians have no right to be anti-Zionist and that anti-Zionism is a form of vitriolic zealotry and can never be a principled human rights position.
The illegal West Bank settlement of Ariel is marking is marking its 40th birthday. In the span of a few decades it has grown into one of the largest Israeli communities in the West Bank with a theater, a university and plans to increase its population to the size of a formidable city of 100,000.
We seem to be hearing a lot these days about an “antisemitism problem” on the Left – and accusations of “antisemitism” are almost sure to arise whenever Israel is criticized. Peter Cohen writes that what we really should be concerned about is racism in all of its forms – including, but by no means limited to – anti-Jewish racism. “Keeping our focus on racism rather than only antisemitism also makes it easier to see the shocking prevalence of racism in the discourse of Zionists themselves,” Cohen says.
The Jewish establishment in the UK has only one issue: Israel, and how best to protect it from criticism. On this basis they are willing to brand the main opposition party in Britain as irredeemably antisemitic under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. And that’s what makes Robert Cohen fear where we could be heading.
Israel’s military has used Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem as a rehearsal venue for urban action in entranceways, crowded alleys, and hills. Yesterday it killed 15-year-old Arkan Mezher there. And it is seeking international immunity for such crimes by seeking to equate Israel with Jewry, making any criticism of Israel anti-Semitism.