Jewish Chronicle tries to scupper inquiry before it has begun

Update: Professor Feldman responds: see below

Today, the JC has tried to discredit Professor David Feldman who is leading the Labour inquiry into antisemitism as ‘a named supporter of a group which has dismissed allegations of Jew-hatred in the party as “baseless and disingenuous”.’

Professor Feldman is a signatory to Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), which the Jewish Chronicle describes contemptuously as ‘a group of Jewish academics who are critical of British Jewish communal institutions.’

On Sunday, IJV released a statement which expressed concern “at the proliferation in recent weeks of sweeping allegations of pervasive antisemitism within the Labour Party.”

It added: “Some of these allegations against individuals are, in our view, baseless and disingenuous; in other cases, ill-chosen language has been employed.” Read the full statement here.

JC said it had approached Professor Feldman for a comment.

The article goes on: ‘In a “sub report” submitted to last year’s All Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism, Prof Feldman dismissed most regularly used definitions of antisemitism. He wrote: “Definitions of antisemitism based on double standards, the EUMC working definition, perceptions and outcomes have not been adopted in this sub-report.”

The ‘EUMC working definition’ has been widely discredited and has no validity in the UK. As Ben White has written in ‘Shifty antisemitism wars,’

In 2005, a draft, working definition of antisemitism was circulated by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). To the dismay of its critics, the document confused genuine antisemitism with criticism of Israel, and was repeatedly, and erroneously, promoted by Israel advocacy groups as the EU definition of antisemitism.

By 2013, the EUMC’s successor body, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), had abandoned the politicised definition as unfit for purpose. Just this week, in response to a motion passed at NUS conference, the FRA explicitly denied having ever adopted the definition. Yet on March 30, Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues and chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, revived the discredited definition by publishing it on the government’s website.

Feldman told the Jewish Chronicle: ‘“It is my view that all allegations of antisemitism require investigation. My starting point is that the rules and norms applied to identify racism for other minorities in British society should be applied consistently, and that means to Jews.

“My position is to work from an initial assumption that people are speaking and writing in good faith and are engaged in an honest disagreement. Allegations of disingenuousness, which come from many sides of this debate, can rarely be proven.

“The key points of the IJV declaration support human rights, the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to lead secure lives, and international law as a basis for peace and stability. The declaration also states its opposition to all forms of racism and that the battle against antisemitism is vital. It is hard to see what is controversial about these points.

Prof Feldman said he hoped the inquiry would help to ease the turmoil in the party over the issue.’

“There is a great deal of heat at present in statements from all sides,” he said. “There is an urgent need for dispassionate consideration and constructive proposals. I hope that this is what the Labour Party’s independent inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism will help to provide.”

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