November 09, 2013

Wiesenthal Centre hunts for the dodgy definition

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC) has just discovered that the bogus definition of antisemitism produced by its kindred spirits at the American Jewish Committee has gone missing from the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency's website.
In a letter to European Union Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland (pictured), the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed shock, “To read on ‘Electronic Intifada’ website that the European Union’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) – now renamed the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – 2004 ‘Working Definition of Anti-Semitism’ has been removed from the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) website.”
Zionists are right to be concerned about the ditching of their misdefinition of antisemitism because it is clearly aimed at insulating the State of Israel from criticism, in particular anti-zionist criticism.  Here's a reminder of its examples of how antisemitism manifests itself with regard to The State of Israel after taking "overall context" into account:
• 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 don't know when the bogus definition was removed from the FRA's website but I discovered by way of a complaint I made to the BBC Trust which had misrepresented the working definition as being the EU's.  The BBC Trust wrote to me saying that they had amended a decision they had published so as to not be saying that the working definition was the EU's but that a complainant had said that it was.  The SWC has morphed the amendment into a reversal of the decision:
The letter noted, “The BBC Trust, in addressing a complaint, had upheld the definition, in characterizing as anti-Semitic, a broadcaster’s critique of comments on Israel made by a Member of the UK Parliament. The Trust has now, apparently, reversed its ruling following the Definition’s removal
Now that is plain wrong.  The complaint the BBC Trust dealt with was upheld.  The report was simply amended, that's all.

They do manage to get a quote from the BBC Trust's letter to me right:
A press officer at the FRA has explained that this was a discussion paper and was never adopted by the EU as a working definition, although it has been on the FRA website until recently when it was removed during a clear-out of non-official documents. The link to the FRA site provided by the complainant in his appeal no longer works.
Then it starts getting a bit weird:
 Samuels argued that:
—  the EUMC carried the name 'European Union' in its title and all its published decisions are therefore official documents of the EU
— the FRA, as the successor to the EUMC, carries responsibility for the documents of its predecessor as part of its DNA”
The bogus definition of antisemitism was said by the press officer to be a discussion paper.  The SWC even reports this correctly.  So how did it morph in the same report from a "discussion paper" to a "decision"?

And weirder still:
The Centre therefore called on EU Baroness Ashton to:
launch an investigation into the disappearance of the Working Definition and the coincidental change in the FRA website address
— return this important document to the current FRA website
— ensure that the appropriate EU bodies endorse the Working Definition in its entirety

Now it might well be of interest to know who was responsible for the removal of the dodgy definition but surely it would be of more interest to know how and why it got onto the website in the first place since it was described as a "discussion document" but with no facility for discussion nor report of any discussions.

But then we see a clue as to its provenance:
Samuels recalled the “… hard work in negotiating the document and the delay in its publication. Nevertheless, its acceptance and dissemination represented an achievement for the EU in the struggle against anti-Semitism. Indeed, its removal is even more disconcerting just as the FRA is about to issue a further study of the worrying rise in anti-Jewish attacks across Europe.”
So who conducted these negotiations?  What were their negotiating positions? I was going to link to a web page that showed clearly the genealogy of the bogus definition, in particular the insertion of the "overall context" proviso which may well have been the result of negotiations to make sure the bogus definition wasn't too obviously aimed at protecting Israel but access is now "forbidden".  No surprise there...

I first saw the SWC complaint on Tony Greenstein's blog.

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