April 04, 2013

Calling Israel an apartheid state not antisemitic but probably too polite

Here's another interesting thing that came out of the Fraser v UCU Employment Tribunal Judgment.  The tribunal clearly rejected, maybe ten times, the idea that support for the Palestinian cause or BDS amounted to racism against Jews but they avoided ruling on what constitutes antisemitism.

Here's what they said about that little difficulty:

For some sympathetic to Israel, what is seen as disproportionate or excessive attention to the Israel/Palestine conflict may constitute or evidence anti-Semitism, conscious or unconscious. For others, the determining factor is the tone or content of the language used, in particular where what are seen as anti-Semitic tropes are employed. Many sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, while not excluding the possibility that some criticism of Israel may be actuated by anti-Jewish prejudice, complain that the charge of anti-Semitism is largely raised as a device to distract attention from injustices (as they see them) perpetrated in the name of Israel.  Among the vast field of witnesses on the Claimant’s side, there was an interesting spread of opinions on where the line is, or should be, drawn. So, to take one of many examples, Mr Whine of the Community Security Trust, an organisation which provides security, training and advice for British Jews, did not consider that comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa were inherently antiSemitic, whereas the Claimant did. 
See that last bit?
Mr Whine of the Community Security Trust, an organisation which provides security, training and advice for British Jews, did not consider that comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa were inherently antiSemitic, whereas the Claimant did. 
And yet when a bunch of BICOM speakers engaged in a debate at Birmingham University participants weren't even allowed to ask if Israel is an apartheid state let alone answer in the affirmative.


At the time, Ben White explained why the A-word was banned:
Further crucial context is the adoption by the Birmingham student union in 2010 of the notoriously politicised and discredited ‘EUMC working definition of antisemitism’. This 2005 document, left to gather dust by the EUMC’s successor body the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), has been ably critiqued by Richard Kuper herehere, and here, and also by Antony Lerman here.

But now someone from the self-appointed defenders of the UK Jewish community against antisemitism have said that calling Israel an apartheid state isn't antisemitic.  So what was the problem?  In fairness, apartheid in South Africa meant white minority rule over the black majority whereas Jews are currently a majority in Israel.  Of course that majority is owed to ethnic cleansing which had been on-going for several decades now.

I don't suppose the CST's Michael Whine was being polite to Israel.  I think he may have taken stock of those zionist witnesses around him and decided they were so obviously lacking in integrity he didn't want to sacrifice his own reputation.

0 comments:

Post a Comment