May 27, 2011

The Anti-Definition League?

Things seem to be hotting up over the former European Union Monitoring Centre (EUMC) on Racism and Xenophobia's (now called the Fundamental Rights Agency) so-called working definition of antisemitism. I reported earlier on the motion being presented at the Universities and Colleges Union to reject the EUMC working definition. Well now the Jewish Chronicle is reporting on a "fightback" by various zionist groups to defend their attempt at stifling criticism of the State of Israel.

In a tough statement, a spokesman for the Board [of Deputies of British Jews], the JLC [Jewish Leadership Council] and the CST [Community Security Trust] said: "After several years of promoting discriminatory boycotts and ignoring the resignation of dozens of Jewish members, UCU has never taken claims of antisemitism in the union seriously. Now, in a final insult to its Jewish members, UCU is cynically redefining the meaning of 'antisemitism' so it never has to face up to its own deep-rooted prejudices and problems.
"The joint representations by senior communal leaders to the leaders of UCU, the EHRC and the TUC send a clear signal that our community will not sit back and allow further red lines to be crossed as the boycotters unleash moves designed to curtail the rights of British Jews on our campuses."
Let's just have another little look at the section of the working definition that troubles Palestine solidarity types:

• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

• Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

• Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (for example claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.

• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

• Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

The EUMC Definition goes on to state that criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Now I have always understood antisemitism to be racism against Jews so clearly point 3 could be considered antisemitic if there was some agreement as to the symbols. And point 5 is definitely antisemitic in that all Jews cannot be held responsible for anything. But points 1, 2 and 4 are definitely not antisemitic unless of course you do hold all Jews responsible for the State of Israel. So this redefinition of antisemitism that is being presented by the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust (and also Engage) as the definition is itself antisemitic and is itself a cynical redefinition. Still, the pro-zionist Jewish establishment seems determined to get its own way on this one so it could run and run for a while.

A big question for me is what they intend to do with the working definition if they do get it established as conventional wisdom or even in law regarding hate crime and incitement. We could see lots of Jews being rounded up for antisemitism and all for speaking out against the last of the colonial settler states.

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