Labour Party Anti-Semitism

By | August 6, 2018

The Labour Party and anti-Semitism is in the news a lot so I thought I would have a look at the ‘international definition of anti-Semitism’ here. I thought this would be generated by an independent organisation such as the UN but it is from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The definition is fine and adds 11 examples. It appears the definition is adopted by the Labour Party but not all of the examples. Most of the examples seem fine but I have issues with some.

6. 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.

In the UK there are a few Islamic fundamentalists who make it clear they have little affiliation to the UK, some went to Syria to be with IS. It is clear it is possible to have greater affiliation to a state other than where you are a citizen.
After Israel was formed some Jews migrated from various countries to Israel (Aliyah). It seems to me that before they left these people had more affinity/loyalty to Israel than their own country. In some countries this may well have been justified due to their persecution. It also seems possible that some with the same loyalties chose to stay in their country and lobby for the interests of Jews and Israel. Jews born latter could generate the same sensibilities. However, for any Jews for whom this is true, saying so is anti-Semitic by the example (6) above. I don’t see how anything that is truthful can be considered anti-Semitic. The example considers that it is never possible for a non-Israeli Jew to give priority to Israel. It is impossible for the IHRA to know that.

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 endeavour.

This seems a fraught area to tread. There are different definitions of self-determination, e.g. Cambridge English Dictionary: the ability or power to make decisions for yourself, especially the power of a nation to decide how it will be governed. In this one the nation already exists and so does not include nation formation. However, self-determination is a principle of international law and in this article appears to include nation formation. My problem with this example is that the self-determination of the Jewish people in the formation of Israel denied the Palestinian people their self-determination. So the question becomes is denying a people their right to self-determination a racist endeavour or alternatively does the state of Israel undertake racist actions?
It seems some Jewish people may consider the answer is yes! See here.
Recent changes to the law support segregation/apartheid. Various laws could be considered racist as outlined here.
There is evidence of racism in/by Israel.
This example (7) appears to be more about the existence of Israel and deflecting charges of racism against Israel rather than anti-Semitism. If the creation of a state denies a people self-determination it may be considered a racist endeavour. If the resulting state has laws/actions that are racist then its creation may be considered racist endeavour.
Hence it should not be an example as it stands.

10. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
An even more fraught area. The UN reports that Israeli actions against Palestinians result in an excessive number of civilian casualties. There have been a high number of Palestinian child casualties. Together with the laws/actions that may be considered racist (see 7 above) it can be argued that Israel has no care for the lives of Palestinians. Nazis showed no care for the lives of Jews. Is there a similarity here? If you answer yes then apparently you are anti-Semitic even though the proposal may be true.
This is not to deny that most ways in which such comparisons are made are anti-Semitic.

The problem is the all encompassing nature of examples 6 & 10. For the IHRA there can be no exceptions. Where there is evidence for the truth of exceptions, that must be denied.
I think these examples need redrafting.
I do not endorse the examples in the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism code of conduct, which may well change.
I think organisations should examine the IHRA examples and consider whether they are all appropriate. However, it is clear from the example of the Labour Party that any organisation that does not adopt them will be hounded until they do!


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