Brighton and Hove Council Ignores Black and Anti-racist Organisations and Votes To Adopt a Definition of Antisemitism that is both Racist and Antisemitic

Brighton and Hove Council Ignores Black and Anti-racist Organisations and Votes To Adopt a Definition of Antisemitism that is both Racist and Antisemitic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

Brighton Council Leader Daniel Yates compared the IHRA to the Theft Act
– He has a point! – Unlike the Greens Who Had No Point!

Below is an extract from the debate on the IHRA at a meeting
of Brighton & Hove Council on Thursday. The full debate can be seen here.
I have omitted the contribution of Sussex Friends of Israel’s Fiona Sharpe
since she had nothing to say. Neither she nor Labour leader Daniel Yates
defended the IHRA in its own terms. Their only argument was that it was supported
by the Jewish community. 
Even were that true then one group cannot ‘self define’ in terms of the rights and
oppression of another group.  If Jews in Britain define their own identity
in terms of the repression of the Palestinians then that definition is
illegitimate and opposition to it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. 7 of
the 11 illustrations in the IHRA relate to Israel not anti-Semitism. This is
something that Phelim McCafferty of the Greens failed to comprehend in his
pathetic speech trying to reconcile opposites. In reality the IHRA has nothing to
do with Jewish ‘self definition’. The IHRA was written in Israel, at the behest
of the Israeli state by Kenneth Stern, who now admits
that its main purpose was to chill, if not suppress, their political speech’.

Brighton
and Hove Council voted to adopt the full IHRA Definition of ‘Anti-Semitism’ by
46 votes for with 1 abstention (Penny Gilbey, Labour).

Outside
the building anti-racist organisations, trade unionists and Palestine
Solidarity Campaign demonstrated. 
Present were the banners of UNISON and Brighton and Hove Trades Council. 
Contrary to what we had expected there was no Zionist
counter-demonstration. There was Simon Cobbs, who kept to himself, of Sussex Friends of Israel filming the demonstration and racist Lukey Stanger of
‘Roma are a social blight’ fame. 
There was also a Zionist delegation, led by Fiona Sharpe of the
far-Right SFI who were accompanied into Hove Town Hall by Daniel
Yates, Council leader. Grinning like a cat Yates avoided discussing with Black
and Muslim demonstrators why he was supporting a racist definition of
‘anti-Semitism’.
The
meeting started at 4.30 and I was down first for a question. My question was
simplicity itself, which was just as well because I was facing 47 Brighton and
Hove councillors. Why, I asked, does the Council need to adopt a definition of
‘anti-Semitism’ that is over 500 words when there is a simple one, in the Oxford
English Dictionary
viz. ‘Hostility to or prejudice against
Jews’.

Unsurprisingly Yates was unable to answer because that would
have involved telling the truth, i.e. ‘we
are adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism because that is the best way
to defend the world’s only apartheid state, Israel.’
Instead and quite amazingly Yates, who to be fair is not the
most cerebral of leaders to have led the Labour Group, treated us to the fact
that Theft is not all it seems and the Theft act has many varied definitions of
things like Deception, Fraud and Extortion. All of which is true but all of
which is irrelevant.  Theft is a criminal
act (except when the rich commit it). 
Anti-Semitism is a political act or crime whose definition is as simple
as ABC.
I am not aware that there is any mention of the State of
Israel in the Theft Act!  There are
however repeated mentions of Israel in the IHRA.  That is the difference that Yates was unable
to explain. 
When I responded, as I’m allowed to
with a supplementary question, I immediately made the point that the IHRA
begins by stating it is a ‘non-legal
definition’
so the comparison with legislation was absurd.  
Trades Council and Brighton & Hove Momentum banners
The
main point that I tried to get across was that this was not about anti-Semitism
but about Israel.  The IHRA was there to
defend Israel not Jewish people.

I
then explained, to the evident irritation of some Tory and Labour councillors
that I had lived in Brighton for over 40 years and I had never experienced
anti-Semitism.  It is all but
non-existent.
Daniel Yates – Leader of the Labour Group – not the brightest tool in the box
I also explained, but I’m not sure
that Yates and his New Labour friends understood, that far from defending Jewish
people the IHRA actually left them more exposed because it defines anti-Semitism in
terms of hatred not hostility. I gave the example of someone who says they
don’t want their daughter to marry a Jew even though they have nothing
personally against Jews.  That is
hostility not hatred and is therefore not covered by the IHRA.
I
quoted what Nkosi Zwelivelile, the
grandchild of Nelson Mandela wrote
in The Guardian a week ago. It should be imprinted upon the mind of every
Labour Councillor.
Like Madiba and Desmond Tutu before me, I see the eerie
similarities between Israel’s racial laws and policies towards Palestinians,
and the architecture of apartheid in South Africa. We South Africans know
apartheid when we see it. In fact, many recognise that, in some respects,
Israel’s regime of oppression is even worse.
The
IHRA contains 11 examples, 7 of which refer to Israel. I quoted the preamble to
the illustrations that ‘criticism of
Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as
anti-Semitic.’
and made the point that Israel was not like any other
country.  No normal western liberal
democracy demolishes villages and houses of one ethnic group, Arabs, in order
to replace them with another ethnic group, Israeli Jews as Israel does to
Palestinian villages such as Um al-Hiran and Khan al Ahmar.
Hove Town Hall – the venue for the Council meeting
My final
flourish was to welcome the opposition of the Tory group to anti-Semitism and
contrast it with when they opposed the right to immigrate to Britain for Jewish
refugees from Czarist pogroms and anti-Semitism like my father’s family. I pointed out that they had introduced the first Immigration Act  the Aliens Act in 1905 to keep Jews out of Britain. I also noted that when Jewish refugees from Nazi
Germany tried to enter this country the Tories opposed them as ‘bogus’
asylum seekers, just as they oppose asylum seekers today.
I
also remarked on the pathetic spectacle of the Green group and Phelim
McCafferty lining up behind the two other major parties. Let no one think that
the Greens represent any radical alternative to New Labour, be it in Brighton
or nationally. During my speech a Council flunkey had turned my mike off, not that
it mattered as my voice carries anyway! 
However I simply turned it back on!
Racists unite – Lukey Stanger of Red Road and Simon Cobbs of Sussex Friends of Israel, recently accused by fellow Zionists of blackmail
I
was followed by Nadia Edmond, a member of the University College Union and a
well known anti-racist who headed a delegation of Black, Muslim and anti-racist
groups including Stand Up to Racism.  In
the 5 minutes allotted to her she coherently explained why the IHRA was an
attack on free speech and how it added nothing to the fight against
anti-Semitism or racism.  She quoted
Oxford academic Brian Klug who said that when everything and everyone is
anti-Semitic then no one is.
There
was a reply by Fiona Sharpe of Sussex Friends of Israel, a far-Right group that
pretends that it represents Brighton and Hove’s 3,000 Jews.  I hope it doesn’t because SFI is a racist
group that has worked with fascist groups and which invited an advocate
of rape
in war, Mordechai Kedar, to speak at one of their meetings. Sharpe committed
perjury
in Brighton magistrates court when a member of Brighton PSC, Yasser, a
Palestinian, was charged with public order offences. After video of the events
were played the magistrates chose not to believe her.
Ms
Sharpe’s main argument was that the Jewish community was entitled to ‘self
define’ anti-Semitism and that it had chosen the IHRA.  This is wrong on many levels.  Anti-Semitism is not subjective but objective.
The idea that any group can define their own oppression is simply wrong and
assumes that all Jews think the same way. 
In other words it is anti-Semitic. Not all Jews are of the same opinion
as to what constitutes anti-Semitism so what the Council and New Labour was
doing was adopting the viewpoint of the most racist and reactionary of Jews.
Secondly
if anti-Semitism exists then it should be possible to define it in clear and
explicit language and argument and not rely on a ‘right’ of those affected to
define it as they wish.  It is thus a
racist argument because it assumes all Jews are of one and the same mind.
But
the third and most powerful reason is that no group has the right to define
their own ‘oppression’ if it affects the rights of others.  The definition of anti-Semitism in the IHRA
directly prevents Palestinians from defining Israel as a racist entity.  That alone makes the IHRA illegitimate.
The
fact is that Jews in Britain are not
oppressed. Anti-Semitism statistics are not reliable and given that the
collation of them has been taken over by the Israeli state via organisations
like the Community Security Trust no reliance
should be placed on those figures, indeed there are very good reasons for not trusting them. [See The
Myth of Increased Anti-Semitic Attacks & the Creation of a False Media
Narrative
]
The
racism faced by Black, Asian, Muslim and Roma people is simply not the same,
qualitatively or quantitatively as that faced by Jews.  Jews are a privileged and prosperous White community.
They suffer no economic disadvantage. They do not suffer state racism. There
are no reports of Jewish deaths in custody or violence by the Police against Jews.
There are no Jewish victims of Windrush or deportation of Jews. Anti-Semitism
today is a marginal prejudice.

That
is why Jews, who are a minority, vote overwhelmingly for parties of the Right.
When they or their representatives define anti-Semitism they do it along class
lines and they see their enemies as those who are not privileged. That is why
the ruling class and establishment in this country use ‘anti-Semitism’ and Jews
in order to effectively bolster and legitimise their own foreign policy support
which involves support for Israel as part of the special relationship with the United
States. 
The
Tories didn’t even bother to speak to the motion. The most pathetic speech came
from the Leader of the Greens, Phelim McCafferty, an ex-resident of Derry, who
should understand what colonialism means. A wannabe member of the local
establishment Phelim was conscious of how he has ratted out on the cause of
Palestine. He went to some lengths to argue that his support of the IHRA did
not affect his support for the Palestinians which is absurd because this is its
main purpose. He accepted that the IHRA has already been used to close down
debate.  In effect he was saying that he
supported the Palestinians and he supported anti-Semitism being used as the
main weapon against supporters of the Palestinians.  Totally incoherent and totally
unprincipled.  Phelim and Brighton’s
Greens are simply politically irrelevant. 
Full
credit should also be given to Penny Gilbey, the North Portslade Labour
Councillor, who abstained and thereby ensured that the decision of the Council
was not unanimous.  

Tony
Greenstein

And if Daniel Yates and the leadership of the Council is serious about taking all forms of racism seriously they might now investigate the management of Knoll House in Hove where UNISON has been complaining there has been systematic racist bullying of staff – Black and East European. So far the Council has done nothing, an independent investigation having been blocked by the management’s union, the GMB.

 

 

 

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