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
“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.
In April of 2018 I lodged a formal complaint against the JC with Britain’s main media watchdog, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), concerning two JC articles about me, published a year apart:
• Lee Harpin, “Board halt Israel hate author talk”, May 8, 2017
• Ben Weich, “Quakers row as venue is rented out to anti-Zionist”, April 20, 2018
IPSO, to be sure, does not address defamation. Its Code of Practice, rather, addresses “accuracy” and the need to “distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”. These, I thought, were essentially interchangeable for the seven points I wished to challenge.
Jewish Chronicle refers to Tom Suarez as a hate author, without quotations.
Jewish Chronicle says that Quakers are in disagreement about hosting an anti-Zionist when there was no such disagreement.
Although two “Complaints Officers” through whom I communicated were always cordial and helpful, for the better part of a year, my case went nowhere. The JC simply insisted that its sources, two UK pro-Israel activists named Jonathan Hoffman and David Collier, “are considered strong sources by the JC, their insights have proved to be reliable in the past and their [the JC‘s] journalists have no hesitation in seeking their views on such matters.” For “evidence”, the JC would, for example, paste in urls to Zionist blogs with unflattering words about me.
IPSO did nothing to keep the case focused on the facts and not on what seemed to be the JC’s attempts to wear me out. Even when the JC pasted in a link to a 59-page alleged “review” of my book State of Terror by its own sources, Hoffman and Collier — a document which in any event had no bearing whatsoever on the case — I composed a point-by-point rebuttal of allegations cited.
But after eight months, the tone began to change, and JC editor Stephen Pollard offered me a published response. That was all I had wanted, and although they refused to have it in print — only online — I agreed.
This was however short-lived. Pollard insisted on eliminating any mention of IPSO, so that it looked as though the JC had acted on its own initiative; and he forbade any mention of the duo that the paper had boasted as its iron-clad sources, allegedly for fears of “defamation”. I declined, and let the case go to IPSO’s Committee for a formal Decision.
I. Three complaints upheld by IPSO
IPSO ruled in my favor on three points, requiring the JC to publish a correction online and in print:
• The JC had falsely reported that I claimed that Zionist leaders “encouraged antisemitism in Germany to force Jews to move to Palestine”.
• The JC had falsely reported that Jesus Lane (Quakers) Friends Meeting House (Cambridge, UK) had “banned” me.
• The JC had falsely reported that Jesus Lane had said that my talk was “not in line with Quaker values” (2018 only).
JC publishes a correction after IPSO ruling.
II. Four complaints dismissed by IPSO
• The 2017 JC headline referred to me as a hate author, without quotes. The article itself described me as a person “peddling antisemitic conspiracy theories [who] rose to notoriety after an hour-long rant on Jews.” I argued that the JC‘s failure to put the words hate author in quotes in the headline presented an opinion as news; and I argued that it was factually wrong to state that “Jews” had ever been the subject of my statements, whatever one’s opinion of those statements. IPSO ruled (oddly, as it seemed to confirm my point) that the JC‘s reporting “was plainly an expression of the publication’s views of the complainant”.
• After Jonathan Hoffman and the Board of Deputies failed to close down a talk I gave at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI), the JC headline stated that it had precipitated a “Quakers row,” or disagreement among Quakers. I argued that only one Quaker organization was cited by the paper, Jesus Lane Friends Meeting, and it supported my right to speak. BRLSI obviously supported my right to speak as well, and anyway it is not a Quaker institution. Rather, the JC‘s claim of a “Quakers row” over my talk rests posthumously with the name of Edmund Rack, a Quaker who lived in Bath in the eighteenth century. Rack was involved with one of several forerunner organizations to BRLSI. He died in 1797. The Bath Literary and Scientific Institution was established in 1824, and in 1837 it received royal patronage, becoming BRLSI, the organization we know today. Fast-forward to 2018, and the JC quoted one Penny Williamson (unknown to me), who expressed the view that Rack, were he alive, would not want me to speak. IPSO accepted this argument.
• IPSO agreed with the JC that when I quote someone saying something, it is fair to quote me as the source of the statements. The JC reported that “Thomas Suarez has repeatedly and unapologetically made statements comparing Zionists to Nazis.” In response, I offered IPSO a complete unedited video of the very Bath talk that is the topic of the article. The video proves, not only that I never made any such comparison myself — in each case I was quoting 1940s British and US intelligence, as well as Jews who had fled the Nazis — but that I ended that segment of the talk with the following statement:
A quick word about all these Zionist-Nazi parallels, which continued with the behavior of the early Israeli state: Unless there is some historical reason for doing so, I myself don’t make the comparison. If anyone is curious abut my reasoning, please ask me in the Q&A.
IPSO however sided with the JC, because I had “accepted that [my] talks involved quoting sources making such claims”.
• In May 2017, Jonathan Hoffman and the Board of Deputies pressured Jesus Lane to cancel a talk I was to give there. The JC then quoted BoD’s President, Jonathan Arkush, as saying that the reason Jesus Lane cancelled the talk was that it was not “in line with Quaker values” — but this phrase was Arkush’s invention. Jesus Lane cancelled, in its own words, “under pressure of time and with incomplete information” after the eleventh-hour intervention. Although the article falsely led the reader to believe that Arkush was quoting Jesus Lane, IPSO ruled that there was no accuracy breach, since the words themselves were “accurately attributed to the President [Arkush]”.
III. My Appeal
IPSO allows for an appeal, confined to issues of process. I limited my appeal to two points.
• I contested the hate author issue, arguing that in its written Decision the Committee had in every instance put hate author in quotes, whereas the very point of my complaint was that the JC had failed to do so. The Independent Complaints Reviewer dismissed my appeal, arguing that the absence of quotation marks was a “fine distinction”.
• I contested the Quakers row headline, arguing that the JC had failed to demonstrate any Quaker opposition to my talk, and that words put in the mouth of a man who has been dead for more than two centuries cannot seriously be considered “evidence”. This was dismissed as well, because my argument “does not seem to be the key issue being considered by the Committee” and thus does not constitute “a flaw in the decision making process”.
IPSO is not the watchdog it should be, but it’s what we have at present, and it should be used. Israel’s cynical abuse of the charge of antisemitism is on the front lines of its tactics. The mere fact of an IPSO judgement against the JC is a victory.
1. IPSO is funded by member publications. It oversees most of the UK’s national newspapers, but membership is voluntary; among the non-participating papers are The Financial Times, The Independent, and The Guardian, which have their own internal system of redress. In my case, the JC’s reporting was the most egregious among the “legitimate” media, though the tabloid Daily Mail — also a member of IPSO — was stiff competition.
4. One can cite parallels, and differences, between Nazism and Zionism. My objection to the exercise itself is that it reveals our need to invoke European suffering in order to see what is right in front our eyes. If the reality in Palestine and the refugee camps only shocks us if we invoke the word “Nazi”, it means that we are not seeing Palestinians as equal human beings.
Ronnie Barkan is a long-time Israeli friend of FSOI. Alongside two other activists for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, he faced a first trial hearing in Berlin on 4 March for disrupting a talk by Israeli lawmaker Aliza Lavie at Humboldt Wniversity in Berlin (in 2017). The three were pointing out her complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The three are Ronnie Barkan, Stavit Sinai (both Jewish-Israeli) and Majed Abusalama (Palestinian), known as the “Humboldt 3”.
This is his powerful speech to the court.
I stand here today with a sense of pride.
Not the pride of vanity, but pride in knowing that what I did was fundamentally right and done for the greater good.
I also stand here today as the accuser, not the accused.
Jonathan Cook details how Macron’s conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism is not an aberration but part of a systematic campaign. He shows how the successive enlargements of what is alleged to constitute antisemitism are a response to the growing success of the movement to enforce BDS and support Palestinian Rights
This article was first published in Mondoweiss andis republished by permission of the author
How far the international community’s approach towards Israel has reversed trajectory over the past half century can be gauged simply by studying the fate of one word: Zionism.
Western publics were generally shocked. Zionism, they had been told, was a necessary liberation movement for the Jewish people after centuries of oppression and pogroms. Its creation, Israel, was simply the righting of terrible wrongs that had culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust.
But Zionism looked very different to those countries around the globe that had been exposed to centuries of European colonialism and the more recent advent of US imperialism.
The long history of crimes against Jews that led to Israel’s establishment took place mostly in Europe. And yet it was Europe and the US that had sponsored and aided the arrival of Jews in another people’s homeland, far from their own shores.
To the global south, the great purges of native Palestinians carried out by European Jews in 1948 and 1967 looked all too reminiscent of white Europeans cleansing indigenous peoples in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
A colonial anachronism
By 1975, the time of the UN vote, it was clear that Israel had no intention either of handing back to the Palestinians the occupied territories it had seized eight years earlier. Rather, Israel was entrenching the occupation by illegally transferring its own civilian population into the Palestinian territories.
Across much of the globe, these Jewish settlers looked like an anachronism, a reminder of the white “pioneers” heading westwards across the supposedly empty lands of the US; the white farmers who seized vast tracts of South Africa and Rhodesia as their personal homesteads; and the white newcomers who herded the remnants of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples into reservations or turned them into a sideshow at its tourist sites.
The UN’s “Zionism is racism” resolution lasted 16 years – until the fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the US as the world’s sole superpower. After a lot of diplomatic arm-twisting by Washington, including promises that Israel would engage in a peace process with the Palestinians, Resolution 3379 was finally scrapped in 1991.
Decades later, the pendulum has swung decisively the other way.
US and European elites have moved on from their once-defensive posture that Zionism is not racism. Now, they are on the attack. Their presumption is that anti-Zionism – the position of much the international community 44 years ago – is synonymous with racism.
Or more specifically, it is increasingly being accepted that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are two sides of the same coin.
That trend was consolidated last week when Emmanuel Macron, the centrist French president, went further than simply reiterating his repeated conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. This time he threatened to outlaw anti-Zionism.
Macron’s confusion of anti-Zionism with antisemitism is patently nonsensical.
Antisemitism refers to the hatred of Jews. It is bigotry, plain and simple.
Anti-Zionism, on the other hand, is opposition to the political ideology of Zionism, a movement that has insisted in all its political guises on prioritising the rights of Jews to a homeland over those, the Palestinians, who were already living there.
Anti-Zionism is not racism against Jews; it is opposition to racism by Zionist Jews.
Of course, an anti-Zionist may also be antisemitic, but it is more likely that an anti-Zionist holds his or her position for entirely rational and ethical reasons.
That was made only clearer last summer when the Israeli parliament passed a basic law defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people (PDF). The law asserts that all Jews, even those with no connection to Israel, enjoy a right to self-determination there that all Palestinians are deprived of, including the fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian and formally citizens.
In other words, the law creates two statuses in Israel – and implicitly in the occupied territories too – based on an imposed ethno-religious classification system that entitles all Jews to superior rights over all Palestinians.
In constitutional terms, Israel is explicitly operating an apartheid-style legal and political system, one even more encompassing than South Africa’s. After all, the apartheid rulers of South Africa never claimed that theirs was the homeland of all white people.
Macron’s threat to outlaw anti-Zionism is the logical extension of existing moves across Europe and the US to penalise those who support BDS, the growing international solidarity movement with Palestinians that calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Many members of the BDS movement, though not all, are anti-Zionists. A proportion are anti-Zionist Jews.
The movement not only leapfrogs western policy elites’ decades of complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians but highlights the extent of that complicity. That is one reason it is so reviled by those elites.
None seem concerned that they are violating Americans’ much-cherished First Amendment rights, and making an exception to the right to free speech in one case only – that of Israel.
This month the US Senate joined the fray by passing a bill to encourage states to inflict economic punishments on those who support a boycott of Israel.
These victories against the non-violent BDS movement are the result of vigorous and malevolent efforts behind the scenes by Israel lobbyists to confuse anti-Zionism with antisemitism.
As Israel’s standing among western publics has plummeted with the advent of social media, endless videos of violence by the Israeli army and settlers caught on phone cameras, and Israel’s starvation of Gaza, Israel’s lobbyists have moved to make it ever harder to speak out.
Redefinition of antisemitism
Their coup was the recent widespread acceptance in the west of a redefinition of antisemitism that intentionally confuses it with anti-Zionism.
One example, stating that Israel is a “racist endeavour”, suggests that the 72 UN member states that voted for 1975’s “Zionism is racism” resolution, as well as the 32 that abstained, were themselves espousing, or turning a blind eye to, antisemitism.
The result has been a growing fear among western publics about what can be said any longer about Israel without eliciting accusations of antisemitism.
That is the goal. If people become afraid that others will think them antisemitic for criticising Israel, then they will keep quiet, giving Israel greater leeway to commit crimes against Palestinians.
‘Self-hating Jew’ trope
Were Macron and the IHRA right – that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are all but indistinguishable – then we would have to accept some very uncomfortable conclusions.
One would be that Palestinians should be uniformly damned as antisemites for demanding their own right to self-determination. Or put another way, it would be impossible for Palestinians to demand the same rights as Jews in their homeland without that being declared as racist. Welcome to Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Another conclusion would be that a significant proportion of Jews around the world, those who oppose Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state, are also antisemites, infected with an irrational hatred of their fellow Jews. This is the “self-hating Jew” trope Israel has long relied on to discredit criticism from Jews.
On this view, those Jews who want Palestinians to enjoy the same rights as Jews claim for themselves in the Middle East are racist – and not only that, but racist against themselves.
And if Macron’s efforts to criminalise anti-Zionism prove fruitful, it would mean that Palestinians and Jews could be punished – maybe even jailed – for demanding equality between Palestinians and Jews in Israel.
Preposterous as this reasoning sounds when laid out so bluntly, similar approaches to dealing with antisemitism are being readily accepted by actors across Europe and the US.
The bank took the action after complaints that Jewish Voice was antisemitic by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a group that masks its fervent support for Israel behind campaigning for Jewish rights.
Eliding the left and far-right
Macron’s antipathy to anti-Zionism – shared by many others seeking to confuse it with antisemitism – has an explicit cause as well as a more veiled one. Both are related to the political crisis he faces. After two years in power, he is the most unpopular president in the republic’s history.
According to Macron, the rise of anti-Zionism, or more broadly growing opposition to Israel, is swelling the ranks of those who want to harm Jews in France, whether through attacks, the scrawling of swastikas on Jewish graves or the polluting of public discourse, especially on social media.
Although a small number of French Muslims have adopted extremist positions, most feel hostility towards Israel because of its role in displacing and oppressing Palestinians. That sentiment dominates among BDS activists too.
But the implication of Macron and the lobby is that these two anti-Zionist groups are actually closely aligned with the antisemitic far-right and neo-Nazi groups, whatever their obvious respective differences in ideology and attitude towards violence.
The blurring by Macron of anti-Zionism and antisemitism is meant to sow doubt about what should be obvious distinctions between these three very different ideological constituencies.
Macron’s sleight of hand
Macron’s sleight of hand has a related and more specifically self-serving agenda, however, as has become clear in the wider misuse – or weaponisation – of antisemitism slurs in Europe and the US.
Macron is faced with a popular revolt known as the Yellow Vests, or Gilets Jaunes, that has taken over high streets for many months. The protests are rocking his government.
Like other recent grassroots insurrections, such as the Occupy movement, the Yellow Vests is leaderless and its demands difficult to decipher. It represents more a mood, a spreading dissatisfaction with an out-of-touch political system that, since the financial meltdown a decade ago, has looked chronically broken and unreformable.
The Yellow Vests embody a grievance desperately searching to hitch its wagon to a new political star, a different and fairer vision of how our societies could be organised.
The movement’s very inarticulateness has been its power and its threat. Those frustrated with austerity policies, those angry at an arrogant, unresponsive political and financial elite, those craving a return to a clearer sense of Frenchness can all seek shelter under its banner.
Just as Macron has presented leftwing and anti-racism activists supporting BDS as in cahoots with neo-Nazis, he has lumped together the Yellow Vests with far-right white nationalists. Much of the French media have happily recycled this mischief.
Centrists’ love of authority
For those who assume that centrist leaders like Macron are acting not out of naked political self-interest but from a concern to eradicate prejudice and protect a vulnerable community, it is worth pausing to consider recent research on global political attitudes.
Last year the New York Times published a commentary by David Adler showing that, contrary to popular wisdom, centrists were on average significantly less invested in democracy than the far left and far right. They were least supportive of civil rights and “free and fair elections”.
These trends were particularly pronounced in the US, Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand, but noticeable in many other western liberal democracies.
Additionally, in most western countries, including France, support for a strongman and for authoritarianism was much stronger among centrists than on the far-left. British and US centrists also outpolled the far-right in their love of authority figures.
Adler concluded: “Support for ‘free and fair’ elections drops at the center for every single country in the sample. The size of the centrist gap is striking. In the case of the United States, fewer than half of people in the political center view elections as essential. … Centrists …seem to prefer strong and efficient government over messy democratic politics.”
It is therefore perhaps not surprising that centrist leaders like Macron are among the most ready to disengage from fair and open debate, smear opponents and readily blur the ideological distinctions between those to their left and their right.
And similarly, supporters of centrism are most likely to lap up unfounded accusations of antisemitism in the service of maintaining a status quo they perceive as benefiting them.
That process has been starkly on show in Britain and the US of late.
For decades the centrists in Washington have dominated politics on both sides of a supposed political divide. And one issue that has enjoyed especially strong bipartisan support in the US is backing for Israel.
The reason for a narrow Washington consensus on a whole range of issues, including Israel, has been the stranglehold on the US political process of corporate money and paid lobbyists.
Lobbies prefer to operate in the dark, wielding influence out of public view. In the case of Israel, however, the lobby has become ever more visible to outsiders and its defences of Israel ever harder to sustain as abuses of Palestinians are readily displayed on social media.
That, in turn, has spurred the growth of the BDS movement and a new, if still small, wave of insurgency politicians.
Ilhan Omar attacked
Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar showed how the established system seeks to tame wayward freshmen after she tweeted an obvious point that the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC – like other lobbyists – uses its money to enforce political orthodoxy in Washington in its chosen field. Or as she expressed it, “It’s all about the Benjamins” – slang for $100 bills, which feature an image of Benjamin Franklin.
She was quickly submerged in an avalanche of claims that her comment was evidence of antisemitism. They came from across the so-called political spectrum, from the grandees of her own Democratic party to President Trump. Weighed down with the criticism, she apologized.
Omar justified her decision, saying it was up to Jews to decide what is antisemitic. In an age of rampant identity politics, this sounds superficially plausible. But it actually makes no sense at all.
Even if a clear majority of Jews do in fact think criticism of Israel or its lobbyists is antisemitic – a highly questionable assumption – they don’t enjoy some special or exclusive right to make that determination.
Israel victimises Palestinians, as has been endlessly documented. No one has the right to claim the moral high ground as a victim of racism when they are using that same high ground to obstruct scrutiny of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. To think otherwise would be to prioritise the defense of Jews from a possible racism over the vast evidence of concrete racism by Israel against Palestinians.
But more to the point, Omar’s apology assumes that those Jews with the loudest voices – that is, those with the biggest platforms and the most money – represent all Jews. It makes organised American Jewry, whose vigorous support for Israel has proved unshakeable even as Israeli prime minster Benjamin Netanyahu has driven the country to the far right, the arbiter of what all Jews think.
In fact, it does more. It makes the Israel lobby itself the one to determine whether there is an Israel lobby. It gives the lobby permission to shield itself entirely from view, allowing its influence to become even more entrenched and opaque.
Omar is far from alone. Other prominent critics of Israel, often black, have found themselves singled out for accusations of antisemitism over the criticism of Israel, including recently Marc Lamont Hill and Angela Davis.
Through a drip-drip of accusations that Omar is expressing “antisemitic tropes” when she speaks out, the aim is to make sure she starts to self-censor, becomes as “moderate” as her fellow politicians, and joins the bipartisan consensus on leaving Israel to get on with abusing Palestinians.
If she doesn’t, it is assumed, she will be finished politically, kicked out either by her own party bureaucracy or by voters.
Corbyn is both a throwback to a socialist tradition in Britain that was killed by Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s and a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause. In fact, he is a major anomaly: a European politician in sight of power who prioritises the right of Palestinians to justice over Israel’s policy of oppressing Palestinians.
The Israel lobby has a great deal to fear from him in changing the political climate in Europe towards Israel.
In the UK, the ruling Conservative party has moved relentlessly to the right in recent decades, leaving the Labour party in parliament to occupy the centrist ground carved out for it during Tony Blair’s leadership in the 1990s.
Although enjoying huge support among Labour members that propelled him into the leadership, Corbyn is at war with most of his MPs. The centrists there have happily weaponised antisemitism to damage Corbyn and the hundreds of thousands of members behind him, just as Macron has against his own political opponents.
Corbyn’s own MPs have publicly accused him of indulging an “institutional antisemitism” in Labour, or even of being antisemitic himself.
They have done so even though all evidence suggests that there is very little antisemitism among Labour members – and less than in the ruling Conservative party.] Labour members, however, have felt liberated by Corbyn to be much more outspoken in criticizing Israel.
This month a group of eight Labour MPs split from the party to set up a new faction, the Independent Group, citing Labour’s supposed “antisemitism problem” as one of the main reasons. Highlighting their centrist agenda, three “moderate” Conservative MPs joined them, opposed to prime minister Theresa May’s hardline on exiting the European Union, known as Brexit. More MPs from both sides may follow.
Corbyn has repeatedly tried to appease the centrists, as well as pro-Israel lobby groups in the UK – both those inside his party like Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement, and those outside like the Board of Deputies, BICOM and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.
Corbyn is slowly learning, as others are in the US and Europe, that this is not a good-faith disagreement and that there is no middle ground.
The smear industry doesn’t want safeguards on antisemitism, they want a return to a political culture in which their power was left unchallenged and unscrutinised.
For the Israel lobby, that means the revival of a political climate that existed before the discrediting of the Oslo process, in which criticism of Israel was publicly shunned and the Palestinians were treated chiefly as terrorists.
For the centrists, it requires the entrenchment of a managerial, neoliberal politics in which major corporations and the financial industries have the freedom to dictate economic and social policies and their failures are unquestioningly bailed out by the public through austerity programmes.
It is an unholy pact, and one in which Jews are being used to oil the wheels of a failed, impotent and increasingly authoritarian politics of the center.
Orly Noy explores how malicious allegations calling Breaking the Silence activists traitors, spies, and enemies of the state were used to attempt to destroy their reputation as principled defenders of human rights. While criminal charges have not been pressed, the reputational damage persists and no one has apologised.
This article was first published in +972 Magazine and is reprinted by permission
One day in the future, when high school students learn about the transformation of Israel from a nationalistic fortress state into a fascistic one, an entire chapter will be dedicated to the persecution of left-wing activists and human rights groups. The chapter will describe at length the role of three central bodies in this destructive process: extreme-right organizations, the media, and politicians from across the political spectrum. Continue reading “How to turn Breaking the Silence rights activists into ‘traitors’”
More or Less is the BBC’s flagship programme on the use and misuse of statistics. On 1 February it led on on digging down into alarmist reports of a survey on the extent of Holocaust denial in the UK. It discovered poor survey design that led to gross over-statement of the extent of the problem. All holocaust denial must be challenged but exaggerating its extent both normalises it, aiding antisemites; and gives apparent credence to those who claim that Israel is the only safe haven for Jews.
Tim Harford: … Last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day; a day of solemn remembrance, but it was also a day of appalled surprise because a poll was published claiming that “as many as one in 20 adults in Britain don’t believe the Holocaust took place and 1 in 12 believe its scale had been exaggerated.” Continue reading “Holocaust denial is a sin: exaggerating it is reckless”
Les Levidow explores how the antisemitism in Britain is constructed and used not just to protect Israel from justified criticism but also to shield British hegemonic interests by a false identification of Jew-as-Zionist. Further, a focus on an exaggerated antisemitism obscures inaction on wider problems of racism.
Reprinted from the January 2019 Newsletter of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) by permission
With the increasing mobilisation of Far Right forces in recent years, antisemitic attacks have become a more serious threat. However, a high-profile campaign has disgracefully targeted an ‘antisemitism problem’ in the Labour Party and the wider Palestine solidarity movement. For nearly three years, the movement has been countering the false allegations.
Despite our great efforts, the intimidation campaign has remained pervasive and stable. How and why? It has systematically elided the categories of Jew and Zionist. Moreover a prevalent stereotype of the Jew-as-Zionist, consequently vulnerable to antisemitism, provides a shield and displacement for the state’s pro-Israel commitments. The institutional drivers and strategic implications are discussed in this article. Continue reading “The Britain-Israel partnership driving ‘antisemitism’ allegations”
Jonathan Ofir describes the debate between Morris and Levi in Ha’aretz about 1948 and now and details the many contradictions of Benny Morris’s statements: sometimes Morris says the Israelis engaged in ethnic cleansing, sometimes he protests they didn’t; sometimes he discloses Israeli crimes of rape and murder, sometimes he denies their occurrence. It seems there are two Benny Morrises competing for attention: one the accomplished historian; the other the fervent ideologue.
Reprinted from Mondoweiss, 23 January 2019 by permission of the author
For nearly a week now, a fierce ideological fight has been taking place on the pages of the Israeli daily Haaretz, between Israeli historian Benny Morris and Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy.
It started with Morris giving a long interview to Ofer Aderet in which he issued dire predictions for the future of the state of Israel. This has become a back-and-forth (Morris-Levy-Morris-Levy) that is a fight for the soul of the one-state. Both essentially agree, that the two-state solution is no longer an actual possibility. Thus, the discussion becomes, What kind of a state this is, and what it will become. Continue reading “Gideon Levy vs Benny Morris – and the fight for the soul of the one-state”
Jonathan Coulter writes about James O’Brien who runs a well-known chat show for LBC, and has just published: ‘How to be right – – – in a world gone wrong’.
He takes a progressive position on a range of issues, from the position of Muslims to the fixed-odd gambling terminals, but is what I would call Progressive except on Palestine (PEP). Moreover, he sometimes treats people deplorably, as I found in two clips where members of the public questioned views he had been propagating about antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Wilmien Wicomb writes that the South African Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has ruled that speech that offends people is protected and acquits Bongani Masuku. While this is not directly applicable to the United Kingdom many of the arguments in this case can be applied in our courts.
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) this week delivered a judgment that provided much needed clarity about the meaning of “hate speech” as prohibited in the Equality Act. Understanding what constitutes hate speech is crucial to properly protecting and promoting the right to freedom of expression. Besides being a fundamental human right in section 16 of the Constitution, freedom of expression has been described by the Constitutional Court as “a guarantor of democracy”.
The dispute arose in February and March 2009, but was prompted by the military action against the Gaza Strip by the Israeli government at the end of 2008. The conflict resulted in more than seven hundred deaths. The violence received worldwide attention.
FSOI has just sent this letter to Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary, in response to the Board of Deputies attempt to censor her for citing Norman Finkelstein.
Dear Angela Rayner
I am writing on behalf of Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish led and largely Jewish group concerned that antisemitic incidents are identified accurately and dealt with but that inaccurate accusations are not used to silence needed discussion of events concerning Israel and Palestine.
We read with concern that you had been put under extreme pressure by the Board of Deputies to apologise for citing Norman Finkelstein’s book ‘The Holocaust Industry’. Professor Finkelstein’s book is indeed controversial and there are few who would agree with every point of his argument but his central theme is clear and robust.