I recently posted on the question whether Zionism and Judaism were the same: they aren’t see Is Zionism Judaism.

We now hear that the UK government (speech by Theresa May to the Conservative Friends of Israel) is to introduce an official definition of anti-Semitism. Sounds like a good idea? So it would be, except this definition goes beyond defining and into describing, and the problem there is what’s described. Here’s the ‘working definition’:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Why not – we may ask – a simple statement such as ” antisemitism is hatred of Jews however expressed because they are Jewish”? Or to re-phrase or paraphrase an earlier post of mine:  “antisemitism is hatred of Jews because they are Jews;  Islamophobia is hatred of Muslims simply because they are Muslim and … Hatred …  of a person because of (their)  race, culture, creed, is quite simply, stupid. Criticism of people (of whatever race, creed or culture) because of what they believe or what they do is a totally other matter.” see https://dave1meec.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/flying-saucers-antisemitisim-the-labour-party/

The ‘working definition’ comes from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) who provide this press release,  which provides ‘examples’ as to how to apply the definition. So, for bullet 2,  pointing out that published media in US and UK is substantially  owned by Jews (which is accurate), is antisemitism.  Bullet 3 states ‘Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.’, which sounds OK until we speak about ‘real wrongdoing’ committed by a Jewish group, the Israeli government, who claim to speak on behalf of all Jews worldwide. By this definition the repeated bleats of UK & US governments that ‘settlement building is an obstacle to peace’ may now be construed as ‘antisemitism’. Dear Theresa, is this another issue you haven’t thought through?

point 6 is ‘Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.’ But what if it is true? Are there certain truths we cannot tell because they are ‘antisemitic’? Will we arrive at the stage where we cannot criticize Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, not to mention ‘toryism’ or socialism….?

And point 7, ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ which seems to my simple mind to be an exercise in extreme intellectual acrobatics. It is a matter of historical (and logical) record that the State of Israel is based on ethnic, therefore racial and racist, claims. Also historically,  the Jewish right to self-determination was delivered by denying that right to the indigenous people, the Palestinians.  Racism is alive and well in Israel, as many Jews are at pains to point out.

Freedom of speech is under attack, but as much to the point, truth is under threat. I shall continue to speak out and I pray that people of good conscience, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, humanist and other will do the same.

 

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