July 23, 2018

Spot the difference: Deborah Maccoby on how the Jewish Chronicle's Daniel Sugarman misrepresented Labour's take on antisemitism


In an online JC article published Friday July 20,
Daniel Sugarman sets out to enlighten JC readers about the row over Labour’s new definition of antisemitism. He tells us he will explain “how we reached the point where Jeremy Corbyn was branded ‘antisemitic’ and ‘racist’ to his face by one of his own MPs” and will elucidate “what Labour left out” of the full IHRA definition.
First, Sugarman sets out the eleven points in the IHRA definition which Labour adapted. Here they are, copied and pasted from the IHRA website:
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • 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. 
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. 
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize 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.”
So far, so good. Sugarman reproduced these eleven examples correctly – except that he left out the bit at the beginning about “could, taking into account the overall context”.
Critics of the IHRA definition examples have pointed out that they are a confusing mixture of items that are incontrovertibly antisemitic and others that are controversial and problematic because they could be used to close down legitimate criticism of Israel. This was why the Labour Party definition leaves out four of these eleven examples. However, contrary to what has often been claimed, the new definition does not omit them entirely – it clarifies them later on in the document.
Eleven take away four makes seven. Sugarman, however, does not list the seven examples - for reasons which will perhaps become clear. Instead he just tells us about them.
To make up for his omission, here are the seven examples from the Labour Party’s revised antisemitism definition (typed out from another piece on the JC’s website).
Test: spot the four that have been taken away from the IHRA definition.
“9. The following are examples of conduct likely to be antisemitic. They are in part derived from the IHRA working examples:
a. Calling for, aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist form of religion.
b. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotyping allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
c. Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or groups or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
d. Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of Nazi Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
e. Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
f. Using the symbols and images of classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis. Classic antisemitism also includes the use of derogatory terms for Jewish people (such as ‘kike’ or ‘yid’); stereotypical depictions/descriptions or character traits, such as reference to wealth or avarice and – in the political arena – equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class.
g. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. “
Have you worked out which four are missing? The answer 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.
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.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Notice first that, by leaving out these controversial, problematic points, the Labour Party is able to tighten up the incontrovertible ones that remain. There is no longer the weak, mealy-mouthed “could, taking into account, the overall context, include”. Instead there is the forthright “likely to be antisemitic”. So far from weakening or neutering the examples of antisemitism, the Labour Party has actually strengthened them.
Now for the test. How many did you get right? I am guessing that you got four out of four. After all, there are only four of them – is it really so difficult to get all four right? Moreover, Sugarman claims to be explaining the subject to readers.
Yet Sugarman only scores three out of four. He first mentions the loyalty issue, pointing out “Labour’s definition relegates it to further down the document, where it is merely described as ‘wrong’”. Then he writes:
“Labour also decided to omit three examples of how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic: Claiming the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour, using symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis and comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
Do you see what he has done there? Instead of the third missing example -- “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” – he has put “using symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis”.
Did he just make a mistake? Or is it a deliberate falsification?
In fact, if you look at this example in the new Labour definition, not only is it there (9f) – it is actually strengthened, with further examples not included in the full IHRA definition:
“f. Using the symbols and images of classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis. Classic antisemitism also includes the use of derogatory terms for Jewish people (such as ‘kike’ or ‘yid’); stereotypical depictions/descriptions or character traits, such as reference to wealth or avarice and – in the political arena – equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class.”
But Sugarman’s article gets worse. The suspicion that this is a deliberate lie on his part is compounded by the paragraph that comes next in his piece:
“In fact, Labour’s definition directly contradicts the second and third examples [ie ‘using symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis and comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’], saying ‘Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent’.”
Sugarman is here quoting from clause 16 of the new Labour Party definition – the very last clause in the document. It is a clarification of the omitted example of “comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”. It reads in its entirety:
“Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by references to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent. Chakrabarti recommended that Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular. In this sensitive area, such language carries a strong risk of being regarded as prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Party within clause 2.1.8.”
The new definition is saying, therefore, that “comparing Israeli policies to that of the Nazis” is not antisemitic, unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent, but – in a strong warning against using the metaphor – points out that it “carries a strong risk of being regarded as prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Party”. This warning is completely left out by Sugarman, in what seems to be a deliberate distortion of clause 16..
Much worse, though, is his use - or rather misuse – of clause 16 against “the second example” –ie “using symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis”. Sugarman writes that clause 16 “directly contradicts” this example. As we have seen, clause 16 bears no relationship to this example at all, as it is not omitted from examples “likely to be antisemitic”. But Sugarman insidiously insinuates that the Labour Party document is implying that, just as the Holocaust or apartheid South Africa were examples of “historic misconduct”, so were the blood libel and the claim that Jews killed Christ – ie they actually happened; Jews did kill Christian children to bake their blood into the Passover unleavened bread and Jews did kill Christ; and it is not antisemitic “to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by references to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent”.
Of course there is no such implication in the Labour Party document at all. The implication is deviously and insidiously invented by Sugarman in order to create the impression that the new Labour Party definition is antisemitic.
The JC should apologise for this incorrect and insidious piece and withdraw or at least change it.

Editor's note:  The JC has now emended the article but with no apology for the original falsehood and no note of the amendment.
Here is the original article from google cache:

What is the IHRA definition of antisemitism? And why has Labour outraged Jews by rejecting it?


How we reached the point where Jeremy Corbyn was branded 'antisemitic' and 'racist' to his face by one of his own MPs
British Jews are furious the Labour party refused to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and adopted its own instead. The refusal has pushed Labour to the brink of a civil war with its Jewish parliamentarians and members.
But what is the difference? And how did it take us to the point where Jeremy Corbyn was branded “antisemitic and a racist” to his face by one of his own MPs?

The IHRA definition

A total of 31 countries have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as well as more than 130 UK local councils, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary. The definition was an offshoot of one created in 2005 by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia, then the EU’s leading anti-racism body. When EU directives changed the role of the agency, it no longer promoted the definition, and the IHRA stepped into the breach.

What Labour left out when it chose its own version

The IHRA definition specifies eleven “contemporary examples of antisemitism”, while making it clear that there may be others.
These are:
  1. 1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

  2. 2. Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

  3. 3. 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.

  4. 4. Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

  5. 5. Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 9. Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.

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

  11. 11. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Labour’s definition omits or redefines a number of these. First, it omits describing the “dual loyalties” trope as antisemiticAccusing Jews of having dual loyalties was a tactic of both Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. The IHRA defines this clearly as an example of contemporary antisemitism.
Labour’s definition relegates it to further down the document, where it is merely described as “wrong”.
Labour also decided to omit three examples of how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic:Claiming the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour, using symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis and comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
In fact, Labour’s definition directly contradicts the second and third examples, saying: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”
Claiming Israel is a racist endeavour is not, as has been claimed, the same as saying that Israel has acted in a racist manner, or has racist policies. Describing Israel’s very existence as a racist endeavour means you believe that everything about Israel, from its very beginning, has been racist.
There are many ways to criticise Israel which do not fall foul of the categories mentioned in the IHRA definition. The IHRA definition specifically says that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
Despite this, claiming Israel is fundamentally a racist endeavour is nowhere to be found in Labour’s definition of antisemitism.

Antisemitic intent

In some examples set out in the Labour definition, the text says that mentioning something is not antisemitism “unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”
This contradicts the Macpherson principle, which states minorities should be allowed to define the racism they face. But one QC has noted: “It’s not just a breach of Macpherson. There is no requirement in discrimination law to show intention to discriminate to prove you have been discriminated against or harassed on grounds of race/ ethnicity. [Labour] are laying themselves wide open to discrimination claims.”

How British Jews reacted

Labour’s definition has seen a rare level of opposition from within the Jewish community.
A total of 68 Rabbis, from all religious denominations, signed an open letter imploring Labour’s National Executive Committee to adopt the full IHRA definition.
And some of Israel’s most vocal critics within the Jewish community have spoken out against Labour’s definition. Yachad UK, the left-wing advocacy group, noted the “overwhelming attachment that Jews feel to Israel”.

Why did Labour do this?

Two years ago, Labour indicated that it would accept the full IHRA definition. But a few months ago, when Jewish representative organisations met with Mr Corbyn over antisemitism, one said: “The Labour leader… would not commit to adopting the IHRA definition in full."
Some key allies of Mr Corbyn have made comments in the past which could amount to antisemitism according to the IHRA definition. Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s communications director, referred to the creation of Israel “a crime” during an address to a rally in 2009.
Mr Milne and others would not be in trouble for past comments, if Labour adopted the full IHRA definition.
There was no suggestion that people be called to account retroactively for previous statements. But they would not have been able to make similar comments so freely in future.
---------------------------------
How the article appears on the JC website now though still bearing the date 20 July 2018:

What is the IHRA definition of antisemitism? And why has Labour outraged Jews by rejecting it?

How we reached the point where Jeremy Corbyn was branded 'antisemitic' and 'racist' to his face by one of his own MPs
British Jews are furious the Labour party refused to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and adopted its own instead. The refusal has pushed Labour to the brink of a civil war with its Jewish parliamentarians and members.
But what is the difference? And how did it take us to the point where Jeremy Corbyn was branded “antisemitic and a racist” to his face by one of his own MPs?

The IHRA definition

A total of 31 countries have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as well as more than 130 UK local councils, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary. The definition was an offshoot of one created in 2005 by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia, then the EU’s leading anti-racism body. When EU directives changed the role of the agency, it no longer promoted the definition, and the IHRA stepped into the breach.

What Labour left out when it chose its own version

The IHRA definition specifies eleven “contemporary examples of antisemitism”, while making it clear that there may be others.
These are:
  1. 1.  Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

  2. 2.  Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

  3. 3.  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.

  4. 4.  Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

  5. 5.  Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 9.  Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.

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

  11. 11. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Labour’s definition omits or redefines a number of these. First, it omits describing the “dual loyalties” trope as antisemiticAccusing Jews of having dual loyalties was a tactic of both Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. The IHRA defines this clearly as an example of contemporary antisemitism.
Labour’s definition relegates it to further down the document, where it is merely described as “wrong”.
Labour also decided to omit two examples of how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic:Claiming the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour and comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
In fact, Labour’s definition directly contradicts the second example, saying: “Discourse about international politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct. It is not antisemitism to criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”
Claiming Israel is a racist endeavour is not, as has been claimed, the same as saying that Israel has acted in a racist manner, or has racist policies. Describing Israel’s very existence as a racist endeavour means you believe that everything about Israel, from its very beginning, has been racist.
There are many ways to criticise Israel which do not fall foul of the categories mentioned in the IHRA definition. The IHRA definition specifically says that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
Despite this, claiming Israel is fundamentally a racist endeavour is nowhere to be found in Labour’s definition of antisemitism.

Antisemitic intent

In some examples set out in the Labour definition, the text says that mentioning something is not antisemitism “unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.”
This contradicts the Macpherson principle, which states minorities should be allowed to define the racism they face. But one QC has noted: “It’s not just a breach of Macpherson. There is no requirement in discrimination law to show intention to discriminate to prove you have been discriminated against or harassed on grounds of race/ ethnicity. [Labour] are laying themselves wide open to discrimination claims.”

How British Jews reacted

Labour’s definition has seen a rare level of opposition from within the Jewish community.
A total of 68 Rabbis, from all religious denominations, signed an open letterimploring Labour’s National Executive Committee to adopt the full IHRA definition.
And some of Israel’s most vocal critics within the Jewish community have spoken out against Labour’s definition. Yachad UK, the left-wing advocacy group, noted the “overwhelming attachment that Jews feel to Israel”.

Why did Labour do this?

Two years ago, Labour indicated that it would accept the full IHRA definition. But a few months ago, when Jewish representative organisations met with Mr Corbyn over antisemitism, one said: “The Labour leader… would not commit to adopting the IHRA definition in full."
Some key allies of Mr Corbyn have made comments in the past which could amount to antisemitism according to the IHRA definition. Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s communications director, referred to the creation of Israel “a crime” during an address to a rally in 2009.
Mr Milne and others would not be in trouble for past comments, if Labour adopted the full IHRA definition.
There was no suggestion that people be called to account retroactively for previous statements. But they would not have been able to make similar comments so freely in future.

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