The witch hunt against Chris Williamson and WitchHunt

Mike Cushman looks at how the witch hunt against Chris Williamson is linked to WitchHunt. The film shows how slurs against principled supporters of Palestinian rights become solidified into ‘common sense’

Chris Williamson is an outspoken socialist and supporter of the Corbyn project, so it is no great surprise to find him the subject of a witch hunt. A campaign that has now led to threats of violence to prevent him speaking. Continue reading “The witch hunt against Chris Williamson and WitchHunt”

8 Holocaust survivors compare Zionist policies to those of the Nazis

Chris Knight writes about how the IHRA definition attempts to stop us learning from history.

[Editorial note: It is important to recognise that comparisons with Nazis need to be carefully considered and not used as a default term of abuse. It is also important to note that analogies are best  drawn with pre-1939 Nazi oppression of Jews  (and of course many others); not with the industrialised mass killings of the war time period with which there is no comparison.]

Reprinted from Labour Briefing

One of the more worrying aspects of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism is its suggestion that ‘drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ is necessarily anti-Semitic. It is true that, at times, such comparisons can be crude and ahistorical. But in many cases, even where we might dispute the conclusion, it seems far-fetched to attribute it to anti-Semitism.

Here we publish extracts from Holocaust survivors who oppose historical and recent Israeli policies, in some cases connecting them with those of the Nazis. In one case, the author Rudolf Vrba – again a Holocaust survivor – compares key policies of the wartime Zionist movement to those of the Nazis. Continue reading “8 Holocaust survivors compare Zionist policies to those of the Nazis”

IHRA silences dissent- we told you so

Antony Lerman says “I warned that adopting the IHRA would shut down protest on Palestine – I’ve been proved right”

This article first appeared in the Independent and is reprinted by permission of the author

When cyclists signed up for this year’s Big Ride For Palestine, which raises funds for a charity aiding Palestinian children in Gaza, they were expecting to finish with a rally in a Tower Hamlets park. But the council took a secret decision to ban the rally using a false interpretation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) controversial “working definition” of antisemitism.

Advert for Big Ride end of ride rally Continue reading “IHRA silences dissent- we told you so”

Distorting the definition of antisemitism: silencing criticism of Israel

Amos Goldberg and Raz Segal add to evidence that the IHRA (mis)definition of antisemitism fails to protect Jews and inhibits free speech as illustrated by the recent actions of Tower Hamlets Council

They describe how the IHRA initially sought to combat racism against Jews and Holocaust denialism, but its definition of antisemitism serves as a tool for silencing criticism of Israel, making it harder to identify actual forms of anti-Jewish hatred.

This article is republished from +972

There is a growing tendency among both Jews and non-Jews to label those with whom they have profound political differences, especially on the subject of Israel-Palestine, as antisemitic. The accusation is a severe one: in most countries in the West, antisemitism is considered a taboo, and the identification of a person or organization with antisemitism often renders them illegitimate in the public arena. Continue reading “Distorting the definition of antisemitism: silencing criticism of Israel”

No Free Speech in Tower Hamlets

Mike Cushman

Tower Hamlets Council banned the The Big Ride for Palestine from using its property for the end event to its ride on 27 July. A ride aimed at raising money for sports for girls and young women traumatised by attacks on Gaza as well as raising awareness about Palestine.

When the Government promoted adoption of the IHRA definition of Antisemitism we warned that not only was the definition poorly worded but that public bodies might make it even worse by going beyond its strict terms. Tower Hamlets have demonstrated that our concerns were fully justified and the IHRA definition is a threat to the free speech Britain prides itself on.

We warned that Councils would ignore the mildly limiting caveats in the definition that: ‘the following examples may serve as illustrations’; ‘manifestations might include’; ‘could, taking into account the overall context, include’. We feared that they would adopt a simple matching approach: matching a phrase, often taken out of context, to one of the eleven tendentious examples.

The Big Ride setting off after lunch
The Big Ride setting off after lunch (Mike Cushman)

Continue reading “No Free Speech in Tower Hamlets”

With criticism crushed in the west, Israel can enjoy its impunity

Jonathan Cook shows how silence from Western politicians and media embolden Israel. Recent silence demolitions in Sur Baher, killings on the Gaza border and clampdowns on critics of Israel illustrate the large and growing problem.

This article is reprinted from Mondoweiss by permission of the author

Recent events have shone a spotlight not only on how Israel is intensifying its abuse of Palestinians under its rule, but the utterly depraved complicity of western governments in its actions.

The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House two-and-a-half years ago has emboldened Israel as never before, leaving it free to unleash new waves of brutality in the occupied territories.

Western states have not only turned a blind eye to these outrages, but are actively assisting in silencing anyone who dares to speak out.

It is rapidly creating a vicious spiral: the more Israel violates international law, the more the West represses criticism, the more Israel luxuriates in its impunity.

This shameless descent was starkly illustrated last week when hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, many of them masked, raided a neighbourhood of Sur Baher, on the edges of Jerusalem. Explosives and bulldozers destroyed dozens of homes, leaving many hundreds of Palestinians without a roof over their heads. Continue reading “With criticism crushed in the west, Israel can enjoy its impunity”

Facebook allege calling Israeli settlers land stealers is ‘offensive’

Richard Silverstein, a well respected American Jewish blogger and columnist has been banned by Facebook for accusing Israeli settlers of stealing land (shock, horror) on the basis that it “disparage[s] ethnic or religious groups”.

I am a freelance journalist and political blogger with 5,000 Facebook followers on my personal account and 1,500 Followers of my blog page, Tikun Olam.  I publish articles about the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The message Silverstein received from Facebook telling him he was bannedOn June 7th, I posted to Facebook this article from the site, AI Monitor, which reported that Palestinian landowners who had lost their homes through fraudulent real estate transactions perpetrated by Israeli settlers had regained them.

I added to the article my own comment: “Israeli settlers steal land.” The screenshot of my post and comment is attached.

Continue reading “Facebook allege calling Israeli settlers land stealers is ‘offensive’”

Antisemitism and the Crisis of Liberalism

Benjamin Balthaser reviews ‘Antisemitism: Here and Now’ by Deborah E. Lipstadt. He argues that contemporary antisemitism must be confronted. Yet liberals who dwell on supposed ‘left antisemitism’ and insist on equating leftists like Jeremy Corbyn with the open antisemitism of right-wing figures like Donald Trump are not only blatantly dishonest, but prevent us from fighting anti-Jewish bigotry.

Reprinted from The Jacobin by permission of the author

These are strange times to be Jewish in the US. We have a president attacking progressive representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib with false claims of antisemitism. Only a short time before, the same president ran the first openly antisemitic presidential campaign in living memory.Strange as it seems, such gestures are hardly new. The mastermind of what was arguably the greatest antisemitic purge in US history, McCarthyism, also characterized himself as a great defender of Jews: J. Edgar Hoover blamed antisemitism not on his own anticommunist witch hunts, which disproportionately targeted Jews and relied on antisemitic imagery, but on the very communists he targeted.

Real Nazis threaten us not 'left antisemitism'
Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and members of the “alt-right” march in the “Unite the Right” rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia

In an incredible act of chutzpah, Hoover claimed in his book on the communist menace, Masters of Deceit, that Nazism borrowed its antisemitism from Marxism, that the Soviet Union tacitly supported the Holocaust, and worst of all sins, the communists did not support Israel. Hoover said this while simultaneously hiring former Nazis as informants, sending two Jews to the death chamber on dubious conspiracy charges, not to mention sending countless other Jewish people to jail under the Smith Act. He finally concluded that Jews who support communism are not real Jews. Continue reading “Antisemitism and the Crisis of Liberalism”

Tom Suarez challenges smears by the ‘Jewish Chronicle’

Tom Suarez describes his long struggle with press regulator IPSO to get them to force the Jewish Chronicle to publish even a partial apology for their bad faith allegations of antisemitism. Even though it was only a partial apology it represents a considerable victory to get the notoriously ineffective IPSO to  get a recalcitrant publications like the Jewish Chronicle ot admit any misrepresentation.

This article first appeared in Mondoweiss and is reprinted by permission of the author

Tom Suarez speaking
Tom Suárez speaks at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) in 2018.

“Accusing Jews of making accusations of antisemitism in bad faith in order to aid a hidden agenda is a well-established antisemitic slur.” — from the Campaign Against Antisemitism, a British pro-Israeli organization established in August 2014 to counter media fallout from that summer’s “Protective Edge” assault against Gaza.

Israel’s most powerful weapon is the smearing of its critics. This weapon — made from the hijacking of Jewish identity and historic persecution, and launched through Zionist media and organizations — silences opposition and keeps attention away from its crimes in Palestine. If we can defang this weapon, Israel’s arsenal of bombs will be impotent. Israel is keenly aware of this, and so front organizations such as that quoted above have declared that exposing Israel’s exploitation of antisemitism is … antisemitic.

What follows is a summary of one effort to challenge one such media “making accusations of antisemitism in bad faith in order to aid” the “hidden agenda” of Israel, the London-based Jewish Chronicle (JC); and indirectly challenge one such organization, the UK’s Board of Deputies of British Jews. Continue reading “Tom Suarez challenges smears by the ‘Jewish Chronicle’”