Open Letter to Caroline Lucas – You can’t run with the Palestinian hare and hunt with the Zionist hounds – You are either with the Oppressed or the Oppressor
Open Letter to Caroline Lucas – You can’t run with the Palestinian hare and hunt with the Zionist hounds – You are either with the Oppressed or the Oppressor
Why are you supporting the IHRA,
a definition of ‘anti-Semitism’, whose sole purpose it is to Chill Free Speech
and Sanitise Apartheid?
An alliance of 31 countries dedicated to using the Holocaust to legitimise Zionism
year’s General Election you wrote to me explaining that:
that we do more to tackle antisemitism and this was my motivation in backing
the IHRA definition.’
You went on
to explain ‘the importance of not
conflating criticism of Israel with genuine anti-Jewish racism’ and in the
same breath spoke about ‘drawing where
helpful on the IHRA definition, at the same time as protecting freedom of
speech and promoting Green Party policy on Israel and Palestine.’
probably as good an example of cognitive dissonance as it gets. You went on to ask
me ‘If you are aware of any more helpful
definitions, particularly when it comes to illustrative examples, I’d be
interested to see them’ whilst explaining that you wished to withdraw your
support from an Early Day Motion supporting the IHRA but ‘At the moment I am not able to remove my name but shall enquire whether
that’s possible if I am re-elected to Parliament on June 8.’
Caroline Lucas hoists the Green Flag of Surrender on Antisemitism
You concluded by assuring me that:
‘I reject any idea that support for Palestine equates
with antisemitism and share your concern about any attempts to prevent
activities or silence voices designed to highlight the ongoing occupation of
Palestine and the Israeli authorities’ complicity in human rights and other
obvious confusion I was pleased that you were willing to withdraw your support
for the IHRA. One should always welcome the sinner who sees the light and repenteth
on the road to Damascus. Unfortunately it appears that you have reverted to
your sinful past.
Caroline Lucas in her more radical days before being an MP
tempted to ask you why it was necessary “to
do more to tackle anti-Semitism” when it barely exists in this country. I’m
not aware of any Jewish Windrush-style deportations or Jewish deaths in custody
or the Stop and Search of Jews in Golders Green or indeed violence against Jews
as Jews. Jews are living in a golden age. The assumption that anti-Semitism is
increasing is one of those taken for granted establishment myths that become
true by virtue of repetition.
The merchants of smear descend on the Green Party
that the Green Party is due to debate the IHRA at its conference this weekend
and you are backing
an Executive motion supporting the IHRA. On 13th
August you issued a statement expressing your support for the IHRA at the same
time as reiterating your support for the Palestinians. This is like someone who murders his parents
whilst professing his love for them.
The whole purpose
of the IHRA is to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I doubt if there
is a single Palestine solidarity activist in the country who hasn’t been
accused of ‘anti-Semitism’. Likewise there isn’t a single Jewish supporter of
the Palestinians who hasn’t been called a
‘traitor’ ‘self-hater’ or ‘kapos’.
Ghetto walls in Warsaw Ghetto
decision to support the IHRA, in all its McCarthyist glory, is
shameful. It suggests that the Green Party’s commitment to civil
liberties and human rights is skin deep. The IHRA has nothing whatsoever to do
with combating anti-Semitism. That is why the anti-Semitic regimes of Hungary
and Poland, both of which are part of the 31 country International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliance, endorse the definition.
There is nothing in the IHRA that
anti-Semites such as Tommy Robinson (an ardent Zionist) can’t sign up to.
In your statement you say that you support the IHRA because ‘on balance… the definition provides an
instructive framework that can help with the vital work of education,
understanding and campaigning’
I don’t know
what an ‘instructive framework’ is
and I suspect neither do you. Perhaps Professor David Feldman, Director of the
Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism also misunderstands when he says that the
core definition, “Antisemitism is a certain perception
of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.”
imprecise.’ Perhaps you know something he doesn’t?
Sedley, the Jewish former Court of Appeal Judge, in his article Defining
Anti-Semitism, whilst commenting on the Opinion
of Hugh Tomlinson QC that the IHRA was ‘unclear and confusing’ suggested that it was ‘calculatedly misleading’.
Renowned human rights lawyer,
Geoffrey Robertson QC described the IHRA as ‘not
fit for purpose.’ One wonders what it is about the IHRA definition that
you have discovered that eminent human rights lawyers, academics and the most
radical judge to sit in the Court of Appeal has missed out on?
Both Robertson and Sedley pointed out
a curious thing about the IHRA.
Far from educating people as to what anti-Semitism is, the IHRA actually does the opposite because it raises the bar, defining anti-Semitism as ‘hatred’
rather than ‘hostility’.
You asked me about any other helpful
definitions of anti-Semitism. Could I suggest the Oxford
English Dictionary definition? ‘Anti-Semitism
is hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’ Or perhaps Oxford academic
Brian Klug’s definition,
in his Kristallnacht memorial lecture at the Berlin Jewish Museum in 2014:
antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews,
where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are
The OED defines anti-Semitism in
terms of ‘hostility’ whereas the IHRA
defines it in terms of ‘hatred’. The
two are not the same. If someone says ‘I
don’t want my daughter to marry a Jew although I’ve got nothing against them’
then according to the IHRA they are not anti-Semitic. You go on to
‘The legitimate concerns about free speech can be powerfully addressed
by our continuing as a Party to champion… the rights of the Palestinian
people to peace, freedom and justice…. The definition… explicitly allow for
this and make clear that criticising Israel or its policies, for example, is
only antisemitic if it’s deliberately manifesting or inciting hatred.’
wrong on all counts. It’s like saying you can oppose poverty whilst supporting
austerity If you conflate support for
the Palestinians with anti-Semitism, and 7 of the 11 IHRA examples of
‘anti-Semitism’ include the Israeli state, then you cannot help but undermine
support for the Palestinians.
It is simply untrue to say that the definition only forbids criticism of
Israel that manifests or incites hatred. Have you read it? The IHRA says that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against
any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.’ In other
word criticism of Israel that is unlike that of other countries is anti-Semitic.
Granted the IHRA allows you to criticise specific
actions of the Israeli state, but if you criticise the state itself, as a Zionist
and Jewish supremacist state, then that is anti-Semitic. It’s like being told
that it was fine to criticise the actions of the Apartheid state of South
Africa but you couldn’t criticise the state itself.
As Sedley put it ‘characterising everything other than anodyne criticism of Israel as
anti-Semitic (is) not new.’ Israel is unlike any other state in the world
but according to the IHRA if you say this then you are anti-Semitic. Perhaps
you can tell me which other state in the world, apart from Burma, demolishes
the homes and villages of one section of the populace in order to replace them
with settlers from the dominant racial group?
Eric Pickles – former Chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, supported the alliance of the Tories in the European Parliament with antisemitic parties such as Poland’s Law & Justice Party
In most states citizenship is the
legal embodiment of nationality. Israel however is the state of the Jewish
nation, wherever they reside, which means it excludes 20% of its citizens from the national collective. That is why there is no Israeli nationality.
Perhaps you know of another state where this is so?
One of the
IHRA’s 11 examples of anti-Semitism states that ‘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.’. I fail
to understand why opposing the right of the ‘Jewish people’, itself a
contentious formulation, is an example of hatred and therefore anti-Semitic. Is
it racist to oppose Scottish or Welsh self-determination? And what is the
connection between saying Israel is a racist state and anti-Semitism? Indeed
what is the connection between the first and second halves of this sentence?
You can support Jewish self-determination and still believe Israel is a racist
state. I find it difficult to believe that you find this non-sequitur
You say that you will ‘continue to
use my voice to speak out against the abuses of the Israeli authorities, to
demand that the human rights of both Palestinians and Israelis are upheld’.
I presume when you refer to Israelis you mean Israeli Jews! Palestinian
oppression is a political not a human rights problem. Just as Apartheid in
South Africa was at its core a political question.
Most states in the world are racist but very few have racism at the very
core of their identity. Racism is the DNA of the Israeli state. It is a Jewish Supremacist State as the
recently passed Jewish Nation State Law confirmed.
To give but one example. At the moment Israel’s 5 yearly local elections
are being held. In Tel Aviv Likud, the party of government are campaigning on
the slogan ‘It’s either us or them’. The
them are the Arab minority of Jaffa and the African refugees of South Tel Aviv.
It is a campaign to racially purify Tel Aviv and Jaffa, to make it a ‘Hebrew city’. In what other state in
the world would a governing party be campaigning to ‘cleanse’ a city of its
minority populations? Yet to point this out is ‘anti-Semitic’ according to the
IHRA definition that you have embraced.
that although ‘The IHRA definition isn’t
perfect (but) it’s a working definition.’ I hate to tell you this but it
has been a working definition for 13 years!
state that ‘letting the perfect be the
enemy of the good is distracting from the actions all political parties need to
take to show real leadership on antisemitism.’ This is fatuous, puerile. Words devoid
of all meaning. There is nothing good about a definition of anti-Semitism that
anti-Semites can sign up to but which defines anti-racists and
anti-imperialists as anti-Semites.
me is that you are endorsing the weaponisation of anti-Semitism and a definition whose primary
purpose is the suppression and chilling of free speech. Even Kenneth Stern, the
author of the IHRA, has come to recognise that this is what the IHRA has
acknowledged in testimony to Congress, ‘The definition was
not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a
college campus… at a conference in 2010 about the impact of the definition, I
highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do.’
The IHRA was used to try and remove Rebecca Gould as a lecturer
Whereas the author of the IHRA has become alarmed at how it is being
used you seem either oblivious or indifferent. Among the many examples of how
the IHRA has been used is the case of Professor Rebecca Gould of Bristol University.
On the basis of an article she had written in 2011, Sir Eric Pickles, the
anti-Semitic former Chair of Conservative Friends of Israel called on
Gould to ‘consider her position’. Kenneth Stern described this as ‘chilling and McCarthy-like’ yet you
turn a blind eye to this and simply pretend that the IHRA is about combating
anti-Semitism. The group who targeted Professor Gould, demanding that she be
sacked for having compared Israel with Nazi Germany, was the far-Right Campaign
Against Anti-Semitism. The CAA complained that ‘the lecturer is able to continue to teach unimpeded.’
It is therefore baffling that the Green Party, in response
to a CAA attack on Shahrar Ali, a candidate for the Green Party leadership, stated that “We have reached
out to the Campaign Against Antisemitism to ensure we fully understand their
concerns and to respond accordingly.” Apart from waging a continuous war
against Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, the CAA is almost certainly funded by
the Israeli state as part of its campaign against BDS. What you were really doing was reaching out to
Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli state. Perhaps next time the GP thinks of
reaching out to this racist group, which routinely classifies all Palestine solidarity
as ‘Jew hate’ they will first read my
criticisms of them in Electronic
Above are 2 delightfully racist caricatures of a Muslim that appear on the CAA website. If
someone drew a similar caricature of a Jew then all hell would break loose. Perhaps you could make a resolution never to make contact with this racist, far-Right organisation as part of your pledge to oppose racism?
The obvious question that you and
the Green Party have failed to ask is why is there a need for a definition of
anti-Semitism at all? You don’t need a definition of fascism to oppose fascists
and you don’t need a definition of anti-Semitism to oppose anti-Semitism. If
you want one you can adopt the legal test of the reasonable person on the
Clapham Omnibus. If asked what anti-Semitism is they would most likely say ‘a person who doesn’t like Jews.’ You don’t
need a 500+ word definition unless your purpose is to conflate criticism of
Zionism with anti-Semitism.
attitude to the IHRA, that it is compatible with freedom of speech is like
saying that the right of women to choose to have an abortion is compatible with
legislation outlawing abortion.
I am left asking what is the real reason for you changing your position
on the IHRA? The only answer seems to be that the British Political Establishment
has reached a consensus in support ofthe
IHRA, as a means of defending British foreign policy and the special
relationship with the United Statesand
you are unwilling to break with that consensus.
The weaponisation of anti-Semitism is a means of cloaking in a moral shield British foreign policy in the
Middle East. It would appear that for all its posturing, the Green Party is
just another pro-capitalist, establishment party whose aim is to green
capitalism. When the British ruling
class has adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that embraces Israel you feel
obliged to join in.
Statement by Caroline Lucas, 13th
The executive has recently reviewed its position and considered a
proposal to formally adopt the IHRA definition, both to help in our ongoing
commitment to antisemitism, and to sit alongside our policies on
Israel/Palestine and free speech.
The Green Party Executive will not be formally adopting the IHRA
definition at this time. One
argument was that such a significant decision ought to be taken by the wider
membership and in close partnership with our Jewish members in particular.
My personal position was, on balance, to support adoption because I
think the definition provides an instructive framework that can help with the
vital work of education, understanding and campaigning. The legitimate concerns
about free speech can be powerfully addressed by our continuing as a Party to
champion that right and the rights of the Palestinian people to peace, freedom
and justice. The definition and associated guidelines explicitly allow for this
and make clear that criticising Israel or its policies, for example, is only
antisemitic if it’s deliberately manifesting or inciting hatred.
I especially recognise my own responsibility to continue to use my voice
to speak out against the abuses of the Israeli authorities, to demand that the
human rights of both Palestinians and Israelis are upheld, whilst also firmly
committing to work with others to tackle antisemitism.
The IHRA definition isn’t perfect but it’s a working definition and I’m
encouraged by initiatives to improve upon it. The Home Affairs Select Committee’s proposed amendments are very helpful in this respect. I am also mindful that
letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is distracting from the actions
all political parties need to take to show real leadership on
In the meantime, we will draw where helpful on the IHRA definition and
other guidance. We will continue to show zero tolerance of antisemitism and I
would like to personally urge all party members to engage with opportunities
for training in antisemitism, including at conference this autumn. I also urge
members to be mindful of the impact of their words and behaviour as we continue
to debate this important issue as a party.
One of the flaws of the IHRA definition is a focus on whether someone
intends to manifest or incite hatred towards Jewish people, rather than being
concerned more with the outcome ie if someone feels they have been a victim of
racism, as Macpherson argued in his review into Stephen Lawrence’s death. The Macpherson principle underpins our equality laws and it’s a good
guide for each of us as individuals – our right to free speech, including the
right to offend and insult someone, should be balanced by a responsibility to
think hard about the consequences.
Taking responsibility for our impact on those around us and the planet
which sustains us is a fundamental green value, and it’s one that must
underpin our party’s response to antisemitism, moving forward in a positive and
Please note that this is not a formal statement on behalf of the leadership
team – because others are involved in internal elections it was felt that would
not be appropriate
Caroline Lucas MP
OF THE IHRA EXAMPLES WOULD BE COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE:
THE NEED FOR
FULL DEMOCRATIC DEBATE WITHIN THE GREEN PARTY
Green Left, 23rd August 2018
the July 2018 GPEX motion on antisemitism (note 1), currently being discussed
by GPEX, which accepts the one-sentence IHRA definition of
antisemitism plus all the appended examples (note 2).
be a major, controversial change of policy. If GPEX seeks to
move s adoption, then the motion should be put to members at the
Autumn Conference to allow for full democratic, transparent debate. This should
be preceded by on-line discussion to encourage full participation of members
and groups, especially Jewish members and those active in the Palestine
solidarity movement. There also should be
a procedure giving the opportunity for timely submissions
of alternative motions to the current one.
identifying anti-Semitism, the motion vaguely refers to ‘the overall context’
yet strangely ignores today’s context, namely: a political campaign
weaponising anti-Semitism in order to undermine the Labour Party leadership and
to promote false allegations. Those attacks must not intimidate the Green
Party to adopt a policy that will inhibit our international solidarity work and
free speech more generally. The motion has no recognition that antisemitism has
declined among UK voters (especially Labour voters). It gives no
explanation for its apparent urgency, no evidence that antisemitism has become
a significant problem within the Green Party, and no evidence that our present
procedures are inadequate. The motion accommodates and sanitises the
current smear campaign
IHRA guidance document are four contentious examples (f, g, h and j)
that have been key weapons for false allegations. They have been
widely criticised, especially by Jewish groups (note 3). To adopt
them would be sleepwalking into censorship; these contentious examples would
impose unacceptable political constraints on our campaigning and limit free
speech on Israel-Palestine. Although the motion opposes the use of
antisemitism as ‘a political football’ (point 7), the wording would further
encourage false allegations against our members, potentially undermining our
political effectiveness. The motion would also increase resentment
against Jews for trying to restrict criticism of Israel, given that the four
contentious examples have been aggressively promoted by pro-Israel lobby groups
(see again Note 2).
In the light
of the above we propose, in order of preference:
Green Party policy (Note 4) remains unchanged and the proposed motion
is taken no further.
Just the IHRA one-sentence definition, without any examples, is adopted
following discussion within the Green Party in line with our democratic
The July 2018 Motion to GPEX
is deeply concerned by current levels of antisemitism in our society.
We will take action against all anti-Semitism identified internally and
externally, and in particular work across the Green Party to advance
understanding of and protection against antisemitism.
GPEx adopts the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which is non-legally
binding and a working definition. We welcome initiatives to further
develop definitions of antisemitism and will regularly review whether they
can play a positive role in the Party’s work to tackle antisemitism.
3. GPEx notes
that the contemporary examples given in the guidelines that accompany the
definition are not defined as anti-Semitic but are illustrations of what
might be antisemitic should the overall context make them so.
GPEx notes the Tomlinson legal opinion of the IHRA
definition, particularly that conduct identified in the
aforementioned examples, is only antisemitic if it manifests or
incites hatred or intolerance towards Jews and that extreme care must
be taken when considering some of these examples.
GPEx further notes article 10 of the European Convention on
Human Rights on the right to freedom of expression and reiterates the
Green Party’s commitment to protecting freedom of speech and
promoting Green Party policy on Israel and Palestine.
6. GPEx calls
on GPRC to develop careful guidance for the Party as to the application of
the IHRA definition and to continue to actively monitor the Party’s
practices and procedures for responding to allegations of
GPEx rejects any attempts to use antisemitism as a
 IHRA text and its adoption
As a body
representing 31 governments, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
(IHRA) agreed a one-sentence definition of antisemitism in 2016.
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.”,
official mandate, its website added guidance with numerous examples, most of
them about Israel. The full document with guidance originated
in 2004 from the American Jewish Committee, a US pro-Israel lobby group aiming
to counter ‘the one-sided treatment of Israel at the United
Nations’. The full document has been widely mis-represented as ‘the
internationally agreed definition’ but has not been adopted by any
international body. It has been aggressively promoted by
pro-Israel lobby groups, especially in the US and Europe.
In 2016 the
full document was adopted by the UK government, which then warned all
universities that they must apply the definition and that ‘anti-Semitic
comments’ may arise during Israel Apartheid Week 2017. Several
universities denied or cancelled permission to student groups for such
 Why the four Israel examples are
On 17 July
2018, 30 Jewish organisations in a dozen countries issued a Global Jewish
Statement which urges “our governments, municipalities, universities and other
institutions to reject the IHRA definition.” The definition, it says, is
intentionally worded so that legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for
Palestinian rights can be equated with anti-Semitism “as a means to suppress
the former.” This conflation, it says, “undermines both the Palestinian
struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against
committed to taking action against antisemitism and notes the IHRA working
definition of antisemitism and article 10 of the European Convention on Human
Rights on the right to freedom of expression.
notes the Tomlinson legal opinion of the IHRA definition, particularly that
conduct identified by the IHRA to illustrate antisemitism is only anti-Semitic
if it manifests hatred towards Jews.
work across the Green Party to advance understanding of and protect against
antisemitism, drawing where helpful on the IHRA definition, at the same time as
protecting freedom of speech and promoting Green Party policy on Israel and
continue to actively monitor the Party’s practices and procedures for
responding to allegations of antisemitism. It will also be mindful of
initiatives to develop alternative definitions of antisemitism and regularly
review whether they can play a positive role in the Party’s work to tackle
Letter from Caroline Lucas to Tony Greenstein 31st
for getting in touch. I think it’s vital that we do more to tackle antisemitism
and this was my motivation in backing the IHRA definition. As you know, there
has been considerable debate about this in the Green Party and the Executive
Committee recently adopted a position that notes the IHRA definition and the
importance of not conflating criticism of Israel with genuine anti-Jewish
racism. It also stressed its commitment to working across the Green Party to
advance understanding of and protect against antisemitism, drawing where
helpful on the IHRA definition, at the same time as protecting freedom of
speech and promoting Green Party policy on Israel and Palestine.
I have taken
on the various concerns raised with me about the IHRA definition and have noted
the position of Green MEPs. If you are aware of any more helpful definitions,
particularly when it comes to illustrative examples, I’d be interested to see
them and raise with the Green Party for our ongoing work. My support for the
IHRA definition is on record because I signed an Early Day Motion. At the
moment I am not able to remove my name but shall enquire whether that’s possible
if I am re-elected to Parliament on June 8.
assured that, as a passionate and long standing advocate of Palestinian rights,
I reject any idea that support for Palestine equates with antisemitism and
share your concern about any attempts to prevent activities or silence voices
designed to highlight the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the Israeli
authorities’ complicity in human rights and other abuses.