September 09, 2017

The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism in Full

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism

“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.” 

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to: 

1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions. 

3. Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews. 

4. Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust). 

5. Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust. 

6. Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. 

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. 

8. Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. 

9. Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis. 

10. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. 

11. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel. Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries). Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews. Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

September 05, 2017

Arjan El Fassed's Mandela Memo was a spoof not a hoax

This will never go away.  Once upon a time a chap called Arjan El Fassed wrote a spoof "Memo to Thomas L.Friedman from Nelson Mandela".  The memo was clearly a spoof and was run in El Fassed's own name. However its descriptions of Israel and the obvious comparisons with South African apartheid were so real that the memo itself was genuinely mistaken for real.  A little checking showed that the memo was not from Mandela at all but some seem to believe that El Fassed was truly trying to deceive people in spite of him having signed off the memo in his own name.  And of course there are anti-Arab racists who have a stake in discrediting any and every Palestinian.

The latest person to mistake the memo for being by the real Nelson Mandela is the Labour MP Chris Williamson and The Jewish Chronicle can't conceal its glee.
Labour MP Chris Williamson is embroiled in further controversy after sharing on social media a notorious faked Nelson Mandela quote that compared Israel to apartheid-era South Africa.
Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow fire minister – who last week described antisemitism allegations within his party as “bulls**t” – tweeted the quote, which was made up by an anti-Zionist website, as part of an announcement that he had joined a “Picnic For Palestine” event in his Derby constituency last Saturday.
The tweet displayed a photo of Mr Williamson alongside pro-Palestinian activists and included the full version of the quote which has regularly been attributed to Mr Mandela by anti-Israel campaigners.
The quote was revealed as fake in 2007 by Joel Pollack, an American political writer, who found that it was actually written as a spoof memo by Arjan El Fassed, a co-founder of the anti-Zionist Electronic Intifada website.
In the same paragraph as the Mandela "quote" is described as "fake" it is also described as a spoof.  A fake is clearly aimed at deceiving people whereas a spoof is a joke.

I've read all about El Fassed's explanation about how people got the wrong idea about his spoof memo on his own blog which includes Ha'aretz deliberately smearing him as a hoaxer in 2001.  The Jewish Chronicle however seems to be hedging on whether the memo was a spoof or a hoax.  Sure, they call it a spoof but they say "the quote was revealed as a fake in 2007 by Joel Pollack".  And that's the bit I don't understand.  The memo was written and signed off in the name Arjan El Fassed in 2001.  He and others wrote to many newspapers to explain the spoof and to point to the byline, Arjan El Fassed, in the original.  So how and why did it take Joel Pollack six years to discover that it wasn't from the real Nelson Mandela? And if Ha'aretz was denouncing the spoof  in 2001, why does Joel Pollack get any credit in this at all (including in El Fassad's Wikipedia entry)?

I can't answer the Joel Pollack question but I suspect if anyone thought the spoof memo was really from Nelson Mandela it must be the very real similarities between The State of Israel and apartheid South Africa.

September 02, 2017

QC on 2 CEs at the JLC

The QC here is one Jonathan Goldberg QC and the JLC is the Jewish Leadership Council.

I remember Goldberg as one of a few high profile Jews speaking out against the ragbag of Zionist hucksters who brought the case of Fraser v The University and College Union.

At the time of the FUCU case he said some very interesting stuff in The Jewish Chronicle about what he called an "epic folly".  The FUCU case involved Ronnie Fraser arguing that the UCU's support for the Palestinian cause amounted to harassing him as a Jew.  He brought ten counts and they all failed.
Here's what Jonathan Goldberg said at the time:

A main premise underpinning the claim — that the union was responsible in law for anti-Israel views promulgated by individual members in its annual congresses and in-house internet chatroom — was held wrong in law. Nor was that by any means the only error of law.
The underlying notion that a commitment to Zionism should be a “protected characteristic” in English employment law was in my view almost as fanciful as suggesting that supporting Tottenham Hotspur should be a protected characteristic, because so many Jews do so.
But it gets better.  See what he has to say about Jeremy Newmark:
Who is qualified to say, unless they sat through the 20 days of evidence, that the particular criticisms made of the evidence of Jeremy Newmark [untrue] and two MPs [glib] were not reasonable. And just as important, why did Mr Newmark and the others ever voluntarily place themselves in a position to be so criticised in support of a claim brought on such dubious legal foundations?

At the time Newmark was the chief exec of the Jewish Leadership Council.

Well now there's been a bit of a to-do over a video made by the current  chief exec of the JLC, Simon Johnson.  In the video Johnson took a hefty swipe at the zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) for exaggerating the incidence and effects of antisemitism.  CAA reacted angrily and the video was pulled as was the tweet touting it:

I managed a screengrab.

So what has this to do with Jonathan Goldberg QC?  I saw the Jewish News today and it had the recent saga on its front page under an "apologise or resign" headline.  Deep down in the article Jonathan Goldberg is quoted thus:
“The sheer smug complacency of Simon Johnson in this matter is appalling.”
He added: “All credit to the unpaid young volunteers of the CAA for calling it how it is unlike the cosy back-slapping club of our Jewish establishment organisations.”
That's some beef he's got with the JLC. When it comes to false allegations of antisemitism, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

August 21, 2017

Kultur Kampf?

This is a straight lift from the Free Speech on Israel website:

FSOI rejects antisemitism smears against artists boycotting Pop-Kultur 

As so often occurs, allegations of antisemitism are being leveled at artists who have taken a principled decision not to participate in a cultural event which receives sponsorship from the Israeli state.

The 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival on August 23-25, Annie Goh, issued a statement via Facebook on August 20 explaining the reasons for her cancellation, criticising misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and describing as ‘despicable’ smears against four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival.

Goh is the second UK Pop-Kultur participant to pull out following a call from Artists for Palestine UK, supported by Brian Eno and Roger Waters, to respect the Palestinian boycott call. Israeli citizens have also lent support to the boycott call.

Free Speech on Israel rejects the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival, cited in the APUK letter, make clear the humane and principled reasons for their protest.
By accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy, Pop-Kultur festival enables Israel to use culture to sanitise and normalise an apartheid regime.

The cultural boycott is an anti-racist protest against that racist endeavour. In this case, the Israeli funding was kept secret until just before the festival, perhaps anticipating and hoping (as it turned out mistakenly) that they could avoid performers withdrawing from the festival in protest.

By falsely accusing them of antisemitic motives, festival organisers try to cover up their own complicity with the racist agenda of the ongoing “Brand Israel” campaign.

As a Jewish-led campaign, Free Speech on Israel asserts: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is not antisemitic.

April 08, 2017

Ken Livingstone and Naz Shah

Here's an article on Ken Livingstone by David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group.  In it he seems to come on the side of those seeking Ken's expulsion from the Labour Party:
If  Livingstone had had the nous, he would have simply noted Shah’s acknowledgement that she had crossed a line into antisemitism, welcomed her apology and then used all the weight of his background in anti-racism in London to utterly condemn the Tories for their thoroughly racist campaign against Khan. That could,  and should, have been the story. Instead he tried to excuse Shah’s tweets as “completely over the top but … not antisemitic”. Immediately after this came his infamous remarks about Hitler and Zionism.
David goes on to take exception to Ken invoking Lenni Brenner as a source for his Hitler/Zionism remarks.  David finds Brenner's work wanting.
Brenner’s book reads much more like tabloid journalism than any serious academic study. It makes crude allegations of Zionist-Nazi collaboration, treats the actions of some Zionists as representing all Zionists, and utterly distorts the power relations between Zionists and Nazis.
Within the same article David mentions the main victims of Zionism who have been absent from most of this bogus antisemitism campaign, the Palestinians:
this whole effort to try to find evidence of Zionists behaving badly in the 1930s in order to expose the way Zionism behaves today, is such a poor way of supporting the Palestinians and their just demands. It rests on too many crude generalisations. You do not have to go back to Hitler and the 1930s in order to expose and challenge the oppression of Palestinians by Zionist ideology and practice today.

I have a few problems with David Rosenberg's take on all this and here's something I wrote elsewhere:
Did Naz Shah actually apologise specifically for saying "the Jews are rallying" for Israel or was it a more mealy mouthed showtrial sort of apology couched in terms that failed to pinpoint what she had actually said that was antisemitic?  I thought it was the latter. In fact the more she apologised the more she seemed to be saying something like, "I'm sorry I said whatever I said, I had no idea of the extent to which the Jews rally for Israel".

And did Ken Livingstone actually make an intervention? Or was he invited to a radio interview with Vanessa Feltz? I thought that was the latter.

The first mention of Hitler was by Feltz and Ken responded.  He seemed to be pointing up the hypocrisy of the Zionist movement on the whole question of Nazi Zionist collaboration or of comparisons between Israel and the Nazis.

Certainly Ken invoked Lenni Brenner as a source but there are many sources to support the idea of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis including some that say that Hitler himself must have intervened to maintain Ha'avara when other leading Nazis were against it.

I think to gift the Zionists by throwing Ken under the bus when the NCC seems to have deliberately avoided examination of what Ken (and by extension, Naz Shah) actually did say would be a major mistake not least because if Ken's offence in the eyes of the NCC was to defend Naz Shah then what becomes of people who defended Ken?

My own view is that the NCC didn't expel Ken and avoided discussion of the "historical facts" because, as David said, most of what Naz Shah said wasn't antisemitic and what she did say that was antisemitic was no different from what most Zionists say (and indeed did say at that appalling select committee).  

The NCC avoided what Ken said about Hitler, Nazism and Zionism because what Ken said was broadly correct regardless of whether we run with Lenni Brenner as a source or not.  (eg, see this)

Of course this isn't now simply about the NCC charges. Ken is now being condemned for defending himself whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Regarding whether or not an exposé of Zionist collaboration with antisemitism or nazism is good or bad for the Palestinians is irrelevant given that Ken isn't being accused by JLM or the NCC of not being good for the Palestinians and if he was being good for the Palestinians no doubt he'd be accused of antisemitism for that.

So I don't think we have to twist or ignore facts to support Ken Livingstone. We should welcome a more forensic examination of all of the facts of both Ken and Naz Shah's cases.
For a more detailed examination of the case of Ken Livingstone and the NCC see this article, Compulsory Lies by Mike MacNair in the Weekly Worker.