The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and free expression

Rob Ferguson presents the third of our series of posts on the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) He demonstrates its importance in the  fight for free expression on Palestine and Israel and defending the left and opposing the use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) is a highly welcome development. Its key significance lies in its potential for mobilising significantly wider opposition to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “working definition” of antisemitism, and attempts to de-legitimise free expression on Israel and solidarity with Palestine. Continue reading “The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and free expression”

Turning the Tables

David Rosenberg writes the second of our responses to the JDA, the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. David points to the importance of the JDA in dislodging the IHRA definition from its status of being THE definition and opening the space for debate and challenge. David Rosenberg is a member of the Jewish Socialists Group

This article first appeared in the Morning Star and is reproduced by permission of the author.

David RosenbergI once heard Tony Benn giving a speech at Conway Hall in which he revealed the “most dangerous word in the English language”. Only three letters long, but it had the power to elevate one perspective, and dismiss, reject, and encourage vilification of all others on the subject being discussed. The word was “THE”. Nowhere, in recent years, has Benn’s claim been so powerfully illustrated than In the controversies surrounding definitions of antisemitism.

A poorly-worded “working definition” of antisemitism, plus examples of what 21st century antisemitism might look like, were first developed for the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in 2005, by the American Jewish Committee’s researcher, Kenneth Stern. According to Tony Lerman, former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, Stern’s document was signed off by just five people, one of whom was Mike Whine, long associated with the Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust. Continue reading “Turning the Tables”

The JDA is to be welcomed but also debated

Mike Cushman discusses the strengths of the recently issued Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and also the areas for further debate. FSOI regards the production of the JDA as an important step in the constant endeavour to understand how antisemitism manifests itself in order to combat it most effectively. It is the result of intense intellectual debate among scholars who have spent their lives enquiring into antisemitism. We regret that its publication has been almost entirely ignored by the national media, the Government, political parties and mainstream Jewish organisations. Their reluctance to engage with a serious and carefully crafted document casts doubts on their motives in raising issues of antisemitism so strongly in the recent past.

This article is the first in a series of pieces we will be publishing to advance the debate on the JDA which is taking place with intelligence and passion among thoughtful Jews and anti-racists.

Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA)I find the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) statement a valuable stating point for any consideration of the recently published Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (the JDA) as it identifies many of the main issues even though I differ with them on some of their analyses. Continue reading “The JDA is to be welcomed but also debated”

Academic freedom and the harassment of David Miller

Free Speech on Israel have written to Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor of

David Miller
David Miller

the University of Bristol.  We sought to bring the considerable threat to academic freedom from acceding to the campaign to dismiss Professor David Miller to his attention Continue reading “Academic freedom and the harassment of David Miller”

Oxford students set themselves up as censors

Mike Cushman

St Peter’s College, Oxford Student Committee (their JCR) agreed a hostile and inaccurate motion about a College invitation to Ken Loach to lecture on film-making . It attempts to use the IHRA working definition of antisemitism to justify censorship of one of Britain’s leading artistic figures.

Most belligerently, the students take the wide circulation of allegations that Loach’s statements in support of Palestinian Rights are antisemitic as proof of their accuracy. It is striking that they do not bother to quote anything they believe is offensive and argue for their belief; in their eyes Loach is guilty because his detractors claim he is. Continue reading “Oxford students set themselves up as censors”

Tackling the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

Brian Klug introduced the session of the International Gathering of Jews Supporting Justice in Palestine on ‘Responding to the Misuse and Abuse of Antisemitism Definition’, held by Zoom on 3 October 2020. His presentation honed in on the ambiguities, internal contradictions and inadequacies of the widely proclaimed IHRA ‘definition’ of antisemitism. His address centred on five modest proposals for escaping for the quagmire created by the definition’s proponents.

His text is reproduced by his kind permission

Brian KlugMy brief is to address two questions: Why has the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism been so successful and what can be done about it? I am a little diffident about tackling these questions. You are the activists with experience in the field, and a strategy that works in one national context might not in another. I am merely an armchair philosopher. All I shall do, therefore, is offer a few modest suggestions that I hope will be helpful as you deliberate about action later today and after we have dispersed. So, here are five modest suggestions from the clouds. Continue reading “Tackling the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism”

Lib Dem members: party line on Labour anti-Semitism is ‘ill-judged and uncritical’

We are a group of Liberal Democrats proud of the recent growth in support for our party, but seriously concerned that our leaders’ repeated utterances about alleged antisemitism have not been based on sound evidence. We have tried to raise this issue with them and get it discussed within the party, but much to our disappointment, have encountered a total refusal, as if the topic were taboo. The experience has led us to publish this article.

Reprinted from Open Democracy by permission of he authors

There exists prejudice against Jews and other minorities in all corners of British society, but we have found no hard evidence behind repeated assertions (echoed by the Lib Dem leadership) that it is exceptional or rampant on the Labour left. Since 2017, some of us have been trying to get the leadership to discuss the issue properly, but without success. The experience motivated us to form this group, and write them an open letter in May, asking them to “tell the truth about alleged antisemitism”.
Continue reading “Lib Dem members: party line on Labour anti-Semitism is ‘ill-judged and uncritical’”

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”