It didn't take long for the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism to come to the attention of the Zionist movement. The JDA is a new definition of antisemitism that directly challenges the IHRA with its eleven examples, 6 of which are about The State of Israel and none of which mention racism against Jews or indeed Zionism.
Here's the JDA's definition:
Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish)
There you go. I would have simply said racism against Jews but that'll do. It works as a definition which is more than can be said for the IHRA which is as follows:
Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
It's hardly a definition at all. According to that definition I could go outside and say something pleasant to a non-Jew and that could be construed as antisemitism because I "may" have been perceiving Jews in a "certain" way when I "directed" my pleasantness at a "non-Jewish individual". On the other hand, someone could break into my house, point a gun and me, shout "die effing Jew" and shoot me and that "may" not be picked by the IHRA definition but it definitely would be picked up by the JDA as you can see.
But the IHRA has examples upon which it depends for meaning or I should say meaningfulness. Even the first one looks sound but is dodgy.
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Really? What about calling for aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews simply for being Jews. Suppose militant supporters of some ideology or other kill people who turn out to be Jewish but it wasn't the reason they were targeted? Bloody stupid. But of course the JDA has that one sorted in the definition.
But of course the real villain of the IHRA piece is its example number 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.
But it also has other little protections for The State of Israel:
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
criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic
Israel and Palestine: examples that, on the face of it, are not antisemitic (whether or not one approves of the view or action)
Supporting the Palestinian demand for justice and the full grant of their political, national, civil and human rights, as encapsulated in international law.
Evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state. This includes its institutions and founding principles. It also includes its policies and practices, domestic and abroad, such as the conduct of Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, the role Israel plays in the region, or any other way in which, as a state, it influences events in the world. It is not antisemitic to point out systematic racial discrimination. In general, the same norms of debate that apply to other states and to other conflicts over national self-determination apply in the case of Israel and Palestine. Thus, even if contentious, it is not antisemitic, in and of itself, to compare Israel with other historical cases, including settler-colonialism or apartheid.
Boycott, divestment and sanctions are commonplace, non-violent forms of political protest against states. In the Israeli case they are not, in and of themselves, antisemitic.
Political speech does not have to be measured, proportional, tempered, or reasonable to be protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and other human rights instruments. Criticism that some may see as excessive or contentious, or as reflecting a “double standard,” is not, in and of itself, antisemitic. In general, the line between antisemitic and non-antisemitic speech is different from the line between unreasonable and reasonable speech.
You'd never know it but it all tallies with the current legal situation in the UK and in most of the world, including Israel funnily enough, though in Israel the legal situation often depends who is saying a given thing, a Jew or an Arab.
But anyway, first out of the stocks to condemn the JDA was an online mag so right wing, Melanie Phillips is there as a token moderate. It's called Jewish News Syndicate. It's a bit of a whinge simply insisting that criticism of Israel and seeking its abolition are antisemitic. I was pleased to see the piece because it showed that the JDA was already having an impact as Zionists scrambled to save their bogus definition. But next up was Dave Rich of the Israel advocacy and Jewish security group, Community Security Trust. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle Rich made clear that it was all about Israel.
Dave is put out that the JDA mentions Israel and Palestine lots of times. Of course, the IHRA didn't mention Palestine at all. Rich says that the IHRA has been used as an "informal tool" for investigating incidents but he doesn't say where or how or what the outcomes have been. Of course, he doesn't mention its greatest success has been silencing criticism of Israel or getting people thrown out of the UK Labour Party.
He criticises that the JDA doesn't mention "hate crime" but neither does the IHRA. And take a look at this:
the Jerusalem Declaration has serious flaws. Its core definition tells us antisemitism is “discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).” This formulation risks missing all but the most overt cases. The Hungarian government’s campaign against George Soros never mentions the fact Soros is Jewish but it derives its resonance and force from the use of antisemitic language.
Actually it's nice of Dave to highlight the antisemitism of an ally of Israel and the Tories, the antisemitic Orban government of Hungary. But what does the JDA say?
Antisemitism can be direct or indirect, explicit or coded. For example, “The Rothschilds control the world” is a coded statement about the alleged power of “the Jews” over banks and international finance.
Is the Rothschild conspiracy theory really so different from Soros? No, it's not at all different. Why does Dave do this?
The IHRA definition’s warning against comparing Israel to Nazi Germany has been removed; instead we are told that “even if contentious, it is not antisemitic, in and of itself, to compare Israel with other historical cases”. Whereas the IHRA definition says it could be antisemitic to deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination, the Jerusalem Declaration finds a convoluted way to say that it is not, on the face of it, antisemitic to argue for the elimination of Israel, as long as Jews’ “collective rights” are respected in any future arrangement.
Aha, now we see. The IHRA does not "warn" against comparing Israel to the Nazis, it forbids it and belies the claim that criticism of Israel similar to that of other countries is permissible. But why shouldn't people say that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians has been a crime against humanity? Why shouldn't people be allowed to argue for Jews and Arabs and neither to be equal in the one state that might not be called Israel?
The good news here is that a workable and genuine definition of antisemitism is out there and being noticed. If that Dave Rich article is the best the Zionists can do it should start getting adopted as soon as it starts getting discussed.