Bogus Definition of Anti-Semitism Suffers Its First Defeat at the University Colleges Union Conference

Bogus Definition of Anti-Semitism Suffers Its First Defeat at the University Colleges Union Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

European Parliament sees Anti-Semites, Fascists and Islamaphobes unite to
Condemn ‘Anti-Semitism’


Green MEPs reject IHRA and Caroline Lucas MP withdraws her support for
the IHRA
According to the IHRA Definition, this article in Israel’s Ha’aretz paper is anti-Semitic

 Today (Thursday)  a debate took place in the European Parliament
over whether to support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition
of anti-Semitism [IHRA].  An amendment to
delete support for the IHRA was lost by 479-101.

The winning majority consisted of
Conservatives, far-Right nationalists and anti-Semites, social democrats and
UKIP voting to support the Zionist definition of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Victor Orban’s racist and antisemitic Fidesz party also supported the IHRA 
As Naomi Wimborne-Iddrissi reports
we saw UKIP’s Gerard Batten, infamous for calling
Islam a “death cult”
, MEPs from Italy’s Northern League, who can’t even
stand Italians south of Rome, together with racist Hungarian MEPs from Victor
Orban’s Fidesz party, open anti-Semites from Poland’s Law and Justice Party
ally with Zionists and corporate social democrats like Spain’s Lopez Aguilar
and Péter Niedermüller from Hungary.  All
were apparently opposed to ‘anti-Semitism’. 
Perhaps they will form an ‘anti-Semites against anti-Semitism’ group in
the Parliament!
Caroline Lucas email to me saying that she no longer supports the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism
The IHRA definition of
anti-Semitism used to be known as the EUMC Working Definition of
Anti-Semitism.  It was removed
from the web site of the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency in
2013.  In 2016 it was, like the Undead in
Dracula movies, brought back to life.
The IHRA has been used to close
down and prevent meetings up and down the country.  Israel Apartheid Week at the University of
Central Lancashire was banned.
At other universities like Exeter and UCL restrictions were placed on events.  In all cases ‘anti-Semitism’ was the excuse.
Geert Wilder’s fascist Freedom Party was also in favour of the IHRA definition of antisemitism
During the debate Péter
Niedermüller praised the IHRA clause for making clear that “you cannot question the very being of the
Israeli state.”
which is, of course, exactly what the IHRA is about.  Even former UKIP MEP, Steven Woolfe, who
described himself as of Black and Jewish heritage and as a supporter of the
state of Israel, nonetheless said adopting the IHRA clause would mean
preventing freedom of speech and creating fear of speaking out. “This definition is so broad and wide that if
we adopt it we would have to jail Mahatma Gandhi for things he said about
Palestine,”
Woolfe said.
Europe’s flag is at half mast but not because of the passing of this bogus definition of anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism of course is a form
of racism against Jews as individuals. 
It is not hatred or criticism
of a state.  You cannot be racist towards
a state.  States are not human beings
they are the constructs of human beings.
The racists of UKIP are all in favour of fighting ‘anti-Semitism’ because they know it is a stick to beat Muslims with
I reported
a few days ago on the attempts by far-right Zionist solicitor Robert Festenstein
to use the IHRA definition to close down European’s largest Palestinian
festival of art and culture, Expo 2017. 
Indeed anything or anyone who supports the Palestinians is now defined
as anti-Semitic under this bogus definition.
Unfortunately Jeremy Corbyn,
having abandoned the Palestinians in an attempt to appease the Zionist lobby in
this country, has also adopted a definition of anti-Semitism which, 18 months
ago, would have branded him an anti-Semite. 
It is shameful that Corbyn has jettisoned so many of the principles he
once stood for – be it on Palestine or Ireland or indeed the monarchy.
Gerard Batten of UKIP spoke in favour of IHRA  – Islam is a ‘death cult’
Only a few weeks ago Hugh Tomlinson QC gave a formal legal opinion
regarding the IHRA definition in which he made it clear that the IHRA definition
was being used in an unlawful way to restrict freedom of speech under Article
10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 
Sir Stephen Sedley, the former Court of Appeal judge, who is himself
Jewish, has made searing
criticisms
of the IHRA in the May issue of London Review of Books.  Sedley’s first paragraph begins:
Shorn of
philosophical and political refinements, anti-Semitism is hostility towards
Jews as Jews. Where it manifests itself in discriminatory acts or inflammatory
speech it is generally illegal, lying beyond the bounds of freedom of speech
and of action. By contrast, criticism (and equally defence) of Israel or of
Zionism is not only generally lawful: it is affirmatively protected by law.
Endeavours to conflate the two by characterising everything other than anodyne
criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic are not new. What is new is the adoption by
the UK government (and the Labour Party) of a definition of anti-Semitism which
endorses the conflation.
In just one paragraph Stephen Sedley demolishes this bogus attempt to
restrict freedom of speech.  It is
therefore to be welcomed that the lecturers’ union, the University Colleges
Union has voted, at its annual conference last week to reject the IHRA
definition of anti-Semitism.
Spanish Blairite Lopez Aguilar was one of the movers of the bogus IHRA definition of antisemitism
I also wrote an Open
Letter
to Caroline Lucas asking her to support the position of her fellow Green
members of the European Parliament who have rejected the IHRA definition of
anti-Semitism as a threat to freedom of speech and because it conflates
anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.  I am
pleased to say that Caroline has given a very strong indication that she has
now changed her mind and understands the threat that the IHRA poses to freedom
of speech.  The IHRA was supported by
right-wing Tories like Eric Pickles, the former Tory Cabinet Minister and Chair
of the Conservative  Friends of Israel.  Pickles it was who defended the Tories
alliance with openly anti-Semitic parties like Poland’s Law and Justice Party
and Robert Zile’s Latvia’s LNNK in the ECR (European Conservative Reform) group
in the European Parliament.
Marine Le Pen, French fascist leader is all in favour of fighting ‘antisemitism’
In an article The
Nazi whitewash
Efraim Zuroff
of the Simon Wiesenthall Centre, wrote that
‘I can’t believe Eric Pickles supports Latvia’s ‘For
Fatherland and Freedom’ party, which wants to rewrite a murderous history… The
sight of SS veterans marching down the main avenue of the capital city of a
member of Nato and the European Union is hardly a sight to bring joy to the
heart of a British political leader. Yet just a few days ago, Conservative chairman Eric Pickles saw fit
in an interview on Radio 4 to rush to the defence of the Latvian “For
Fatherland and Freedom” party which is among the staunchest supporters of
precisely such an event that takes place annually in Riga every 16 March.’
This is the same Eric Pickles who, when it comes to defending Israel,
is a vociferous opponent of ‘anti-Semitism’!
Below is a press statement
from Bricup (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) and Free
Speech on Israel
Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish-led organisation which defends the
right to criticise  Israel, and the
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which campaigns  for academic and cultural boycott of Israel,
today welcomed the vote by the  University
and College Union (UCU) to reject the International Holocaust  Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of
antisemitism.
Motion 57, submitted by UCU branches at the University of Leeds,
Goldsmiths, and  the University of
Brighton, along with two strengthening amendments from Queen’s  University Belfast and London Retired Members
Branch, was carried  overwhelmingly in
the closing minutes of UCU’s annual Congress in Brighton. Only  one delegate spoke against the motion. 
UCU had previously, in 2011, rejected the Working Definition of
Antisemitism” of  the EU
Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). The IHRA  definition strongly resembles the EUMC
version.
Both these definitions are considered highly problematic because they
seek to conflate  criticism of Israel
with genuine anti-Jewish racism: examples cited in them make  explicit reference to Israel. The UK
Government has adopted the IHRA definition, 
and in February this year Universities Minister Jo Johnson wrote to
Universities UK  insisting that university
activities must respect the definition. In particular, he alleged  that ‘anti-Semitic incidents … might take
place under the banner of Israel (sic) Apartheid’ events.  Some universities have banned or curtailed
campus events during  Israeli Apartheid
week or subsequently, and campaigners for Palestinian human rights  consider that the definition is being used to
censor legitimate political activity and 
debate which criticises the Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.  In moving the motion, Mark Abel of Brighton
UCU noted that an event organised by Friends of Palestine had been cancelled by
the University of Central Lancashire, who 
cited the IHRA definition as making the event ‘unlawful’.  Reacting to this wave of censorship the new,
Jewish-led organisation Free Speech on  Israel,
along with Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Independent Jewish Voices,  and Jews for Justice for Palestinians,
obtained a legal Opinion from the eminent 
human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC.
The Opinion is devastating: it characterises the IHRA definition as
confusing, not  legally binding, and
putting public bodies that use it at risk of ‘unlawfully restricting  legitimate expressions of political opinion’.
A public body that bans a meeting under  the
IHRA definition without any evidence of genuine antisemitism could be breaching  the European Convention on Human Rights which
guarantees freedom of expression  (Article
10), and freedom of assembly (Article 11). 
In concluding his speech, Mark Abel said: ‘This is a dangerous
conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-semitism. … It is a definition intended
to silence those who wish to  puncture
the Israeli state’s propaganda that it is a normal liberal democratic state’
Mike Cushman, a UCU member and co-founder of FSOI, said: ‘Free speech
on Israel  welcomes UCU’s recognition
that fighting antisemitism is a separate struggle from  defending the rights of Palestinians, and
that both these struggles are important. 
Putting these in opposition to each other assists both antisemites and
war criminals.’
Les Levidow, a UCU member speaking for BRICUP, said: ‘Congratulations
to UCU  for defending free speech on
Israel/Palestine by rejecting the government-IHRA  agenda to weaponise antisemitism, conflated
with anti-Zionism.’
UCU Congress also passed a motion in support of Professor Kamel
Hawwash, a UCU  member at the University
of Birmingham, who was prevented from entering Israel on  7th April on a trip with his wife and young
son to visit relatives in occupied East  Jerusalem.
It seems likely that Prof. Hawwash was banned under the new Israeli  boycott law, which prevents activists accused
of supporting BDS (Boycott,  Divestment
and Sanctions) from entering Israel. Prof. Hawwash was until recently  the vice-chair of PSC. The General Secretary
of UCU will now be writing to the  Israeli
Embassy and the FCO to urge that the ban on Prof. Hawwash and all non-  violent human rights campaigners be lifted.
Below is the full text of Motion
57 as carried, incorporating amendments: 
57
Composite: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of
antisemitism  University of Leeds,
Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Brighton, Grand Parade
Congress notes:
1.         UCU’s
exemplary anti-racist work, e.g. Holocaust Memorial Day materials;
2.         policy
(2011) dissociating UCU from the ‘EUMC working definition’ of antisemitism;
3.         the close similarity
between the IHRA and EUMC definitions, including their conflation of antisemitism
with criticism of Israel;
4.         That
government has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism;
5.         That this definition conflates
anti-Semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to
intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the
policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-Semitic;
6.         Government-inspired
attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israeli Apartheid Week.
7.         The legal opinion from
Hugh Tomlinson QC, obtained by PSC and other groups, characterising the IHRA
definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that
use it at risk of ‘unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political
opinion’.
Congress re-affirms:
a.         UCU’s condemnation of
all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination;
b.         UCU’s commitment to free
speech and academic freedom;
c.         the importance of open
campus debate on Israel/Palestine;
            Congress resolves that UCU
dissociates itself from the IHRA definition and will make no use of it (e.g. in
educating members or dealing with internal complaints).
Congress instructs:
i.          NEC to contact all
members in a dedicated communication urging report to NEC of all repressive
uses of the IHRA definition;
ii          Conduct research about
the implications of the use of the IHRA definition;
iii.        General Secretary to
write to VCs/principals urging staff protection from malicious accusations, and
freedom of political criticism;
iv.        President to issue, and
circulate to members, a detailed press statement on UCU’s criticism of the IHRA
definition;
v.         Lobby government to seek
a review of its endorsement of the IHRA definition and to replace it with one
that will both protect free speech and combat anti-Semitism.

Recalling the experience of
Fraser vs UCU, we call upon the NEC to take a position against any university
management that reacts to spurious accusations of anti-semitism by banning
speakers who are opposed to the policies of the State of Israel but who have
not in any way expressed racism against Jewish people.

 

 

 

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