The IHRA Definition of ‘Anti-Semitism’ Claims Its First Victim
The IHRA Definition of ‘Anti-Semitism’ Claims Its First Victim
FREE SPEECH UNDER ATTACK Dudley Council officer Paul Jonson is suspended for
saying that Israel is a racist endeavour
Please sign petition in support of Paul Johnson here
As I have been saying for some time, the International
Holocaust Remembrance Alliance so-called definition of anti-Semitism is not
about fighting hatred of Jews. Its sole
purpose is to defend the Israeli state and its sickening racism against Palestinians/
The Facebook post that Paul Jonson was suspended for
Even the author of the IHRA Kenneth Stern wrote in testimony
definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or
chill speech on a college campus. In fact, at a conference in 2010 about the
impact of the definition, I highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do
also stated that even when case are lost, the advocates of the IHRA saw a ‘positive benefit – they chilled
pro-Palestinian expression.’ That is the only purpose of the IHRA.
Stern described what happened when the misnamed Campaign
Professor Rachel Gould of Bristol University as ‘chilling and McCarthy-like’. She was subject to a venomous attack
by the CAA because of an article she wrote about the Zionist misuse of the Holocaust.
Could there be a more blatant attack on free speech by this despicable ‘charity’?
to the CAA, she wrote that:
the time has come to stop privileging the Holocaust as the central event in
Jewish history.” She
concluded the article: “As the situation stands
today, the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian
What is anti-Semitic about that? Yet the CAA has now targeted someone else,
Paul Jonson. And whereas Bristol University
defended Professor Gould, Dudley Council has demonstrated that it lacks any
Demonstration that Paul Jonson attended outside Ian Austin MP’s surgery
‘a potential chilling effect on public
bodies which, in the absence of definitional clarity, may seek to sanction or
prohibit any conduct which has been labelled by third parties as antisemitic
without applying any clear criterion of assessment.’
‘likely to chill criticism of action by the Government
of Israel and advocacy of sanctions as a means to deter human rights abuses in
Gaza and elsewhere.’
Whilst also finding
that when it
comes to genuine anti-Semitism, the IHRA is actually very weak.
‘By pivoting upon racial
hatred … it fails to catch those who exhibit hostility and
prejudice – or apply discrimination – against Jewish people for no reason other
than that they are Jewish.’
Council Officer Paul Jonson was suspended 2 weeks ago for breaching the
IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism. Here once again we can see that the IHRA
has nothing whatsoever to do with combating hate against Jews, which is what anti-Semitism
is about and everything to do with protecting the world’s most racist state.
A state where 48% of its Jewish population, a plurality, support the
physical expulsion of its non-Jewish population. [Israel’s
Religiously Divided Society, Pew Research Centre] A state where 93% of the
land is reserved for Jews. A state which
defines itself not as a state of its own people, the basis of non-racist
nationalism from the French Revolution onwards but as a state of only a section
of its population, the Jewish section.
For stating the obvious, that Israel is a racist endeavour, i.e. the Zionist
project was racist from its inception, which is a perfectly valid point of
view, Paul has been suspended.
This is a direct attack on
freedom of speech. It vindicates the
decision of Liberty’s AGM to oppose the IHRA.
It vindicates the decision of the University College Union to oppose the
definition. The suspension of Paul could
be the beginning of a wave of attacks on the basic rights of employees to
express themselves freely without fear of being victimised.
Any idiot, Dudley’s Council leaders apart, knows that expressing views
about a state is not racist. Is it
racist to say that the Burmese state is a genocidally racist state? Or that Egypt is a vicious Police state? Why because a state defines itself racially
as ‘Jewish’ is an exception made. Israel is a state that has just passed the Apartheid
Jewish Nation State Law which specifically excludes Israel’s non-Jewish population
from national rights.
This isn’t about anti-Semitism it is about protecting the West’s
investment in and reliance on the Israeli state, its policeman in the region..
The time is long overdue when a concerted fightback needs to be made
against this McCarthyist attack on idea, which is eroding basic rights such as
freedom of speech and assembly
Mr Jonson attended the protest outside Ian Austin’s constituency office.
Paul Jonson, an anti-social behaviour officer at the authority, has been
accused of violating the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
definition of anti-Semitism with a post describing Israel as a ‘racist endeavour’.
It refers to a protest outside Dudley North Labour MP Ian Austin’s
constituency office on October 6, where placard waving activists demonstrated
against Israel’s ‘murderous occupation of
Dudley North MP Ian Austin
Mr Jonson’s post read: “Stand with
Palestine. Israel is racist endeavour.”
The council, which signed up to the full IHRA definition last year,
acted following an official complaint from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.
Bosses ordered Mr Jonson to stop attending work while an investigation
Mr Jonson attended the protest outside Ian Austin’s constituency office
which featured in this Facebook post
Dudley Council’s chief executive, Sarah Norman, said: “We have received a complaint and are
Mr Jonson, who attended the demonstration, posted on Facebook: “I have been accused under the IHRA code via
a complaint received at the Chief Execs Dept that my post “Stand with Palestine
– Israel is a racist endeavour” – is anti-Semetic (sic).
“I was interviewed on
October 18 and instructed to ‘refrain from work’ until further notice. I am
still not at work.
“I have been advised
by DMBC they are still awaiting further ‘legal advice’.
“This is obviously
being robustly refuted by myself. FREE SPEECH ON ISRAEL – FREE PALESTINE!!”
Paul Jonson’s post on Facebook
He added that he was planning to meet with his union, Unison, to discuss
Stephen Silverman, the director of investigations and enforcement at
Campaign Against Antisemitism, has called for Mr Jonson to be sacked from
He said: “Mr Jonson seems to
be intent on baiting the Jewish community by breaching the International
Definition of Antisemitism.
behaviour shows that he is utterly unfit to hold the office of Anti-Social
Behaviour Officer for Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.
“We are glad
that the Council has suspended him following our complaint.”
Mr Austin was targeted by pro-Palestine campaigners over his stance
against anti-Semitism in the Labour party.
He has been an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the
issue, which saw the party embroiled in a series of rows with Jewish groups
over the summer.
After the protest, Birmingham Palestine Action group said: “We must continue to call out all those
people in power who remain silent while Israel continues it’s murderous
occupation of Palestine. It was made clear to Ian that his unconditional
support for Israel and silence regarding the consistent violation of
Palestinians’ human rights will no longer go unchallenged.”
On Sun, 28
Oct 2018, 00:05 Paul jonson wrote:
I wish to
add the following, reference my interview on Thursday 18th October 2018 with
Tom Mountford and Amanda Hubble and the ongoing “refrain from
work” decision which on Monday 29th October 2018 will be into it’s third
contacted on the previous day 17th October 2018 by Tom Mountford and advised to
attend an urgent meeting at Regent House at 9.30am. I was not advised of
the details other than a complaint had been received relating to a private
Facebook post I had made. I was not provided with any information
relating to the complainant or complainants or the Facebook posts content.
preliminary interview was cordial and relaxed and was conducted via a pre
determined script that involved in excess of 20 questions. My responses
were specific and truthful. I was shown screen shot of both my FB profile
and a post dated 5th October 2018. The post read _” Stand with
Palestine – State of Israel is a racist endeavour “. I was asked
whether this was my post _- I answered proudly yes it was.
advised that a complaint had been received at the Chief Executives from the
Campaign against anti semitism.
‘It is not only the victims of hate to stand up but
for every decent citizen to recognise prejudice in all it’s guises . When we
see hatred -we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims and call it out
” – Ian Austin MP 18.09.2018 speaking at a
memorial event for Frank Fowley a brave individual who saved hundreds of Jewish
people from Nazi concentration camps and death.
100% with these words and consider myself and my colleagues in the Palestinian
Solidarity Campaign to be amongst those “decent citizens ” Ian Austin referred to – to call out
hate and stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims.
post in question was directly related to the Dudley Palestine Solidarity Groups
lobby of Dudley North MP Ian Austin , this was in response to a tweet he had
sent regarding the murder of over 18 young Gazans who had been shot by
Israel’s IDF troops at the Gazan border fence protests for demanding the right
of return to their Homeland.
The MP had
attributed the blame to Hamas and the protesters themselves.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu at a press conference on the 15thMay 2018
stated that – “the Palestinian
protesters deliberately ran in front of bullets fired by the Israeli military
during the border protests to make Israel look bad” -‘Hamas were to
On the 6th
July 2018 I attended a lobby at Dudley Library when Ian Austin on two occasions
referenced my employment with DMBC to which I retorted “that my day job was of no relevance to why I
was supporting this lobby and I asked the MP if he was trying to
stating Israel is a racist endeavor is somewhat inaccurate – Israel is a
racist apartheid state.
WHY IS THIS
1948 at the inception of the State of Israel Zionist groups expelled
750,000 Palestinians . In Palestine this is known as the ”
Nakba” which translates as the “catastrophe. Over 90% of all
Palestinians who would have been inside the new State of Israel borders were
and are denied to this day the RIght of Return. Zionism lays claim to the land
based on biblical timelines over 2,000 yeas ago , yet denies the right of
return for Palestinians going back less than 75 years.
is under illegal Military Occupation in violation of International law.
2) more than
50 separate laws for Palestinians only – more than half adopted since
3) Land Law
– stipulates ownership of ” Israel Lands” controlled by the State of
Israels Jewish National Fund (JNF) leasing land only to Jewish citizens.
Property Law 1950 – states Palestinian refugees expelled after 1947/48 are
denied any rights.Their houses, land, apartments and bank accounts were
confiscated by the State of Israel. Simultaneously the Law of Return was passed
in 1950 giving Jewish people from anywhere in the world the automatic right to
Israeli citizenship and residence.
5) In March
2018 Israel passed a law to revoke residency rights of any Palestinian to
reside in Jerusalem on the grounds of ” breach of loyalty to Israel”.
6) A ban on
Family Unification , when the spouse is an Israeli citizen and the other is a
resident of the occupied territories I
7) Trial for
Palestinians by Military Courts not civil courts.
Detention Centres for Palestinians – illegal under International Law
roads for Palestinians.
Aparthied Wall in the occupied territories three times the height of the
old Berlin Wall and stretching over 700km – equivalent distance from London to
Military checkpoints for Palestinians
house demolitions to make way for settler expansion.
Water Wells and reduced electricity supply – in Gaza only 6 hours per day.
Nation State Law further entrenched Apartheid Law which states only Jewish
people have the right to self determination. This Law prompted the Israel
Pianist Daniel Barenboim to state – ” I don’t think the Jewish
people lived for 20 centuries mostly through persecution and enduring cruelties
in order to become the oppressors. – this Law does exactly that .
Therefore I am ashamed of being an Israeli citizen.”
a crime under International Law . The United Nations Committee on the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination has urged the State of Israel to , quote –
” prohibit and eradicate it’s policies of Racial segregation and
Apartheid”. Even the USA accepts that Palestinians face ‘
institutional and societal discrimination”. On a visit by Archbishop
Desmond Tutu to Israel in 2012 he stated that ” there are many
aspects of Palestinian life that are worse than the dark days of Apartheid
discriminatory apartheid racist laws which impact daily on Palestinians
are an historical fact of life – not opinions.
As stated in
my prelimininary interview I am aware of the IHRA and it’s history. It is not a
legal document but an advisory package . It’s original conception and purpose
was educative and awareness raising of the Holocaust. It’s recent history
has included the “weaponisation” by the State of Israel and
Zionist supporters in an attempt to closedown debate and criticism of Israel
and curtail Palestinian Solidarity.
Kenneth Stern has stated on record that his intention was not to stifle
criticism of the State of Israel , his intention was to be a “working
definition” designed to help “standardise data collection” on
anti semitic hate crimes and not to be a Legal or regulatory tool for the
suppression of academic or political free speech. It’s intention was to
strengthen awareness of the Holocaust .
The IHRA is
not universally recognised out of 195 countries only 31 have adopted the
document and only 7 with the full examples. The most controversial
addition is the one regarding “the State of Israel as a racist
endeaver”. To criticise Israel and it’s policies of Apartheid is not
anti semitic. Some 45 Jewish Groups , the Institute for
RaceRelations,leading lawyers such as Hugh Tomlinson, Geoffrey Bindman,Sir
Stephen Sedley,Brian Klug have all expressed their concerns about the
weaponisation and misuse as a tool to suppress debate and activism
regarding Palestinian Human Rights. As decent citizens we all have a duty
to challenge both individual and Institutionalized Racism – including both anti
semitism and Islamophobia. Palestinian voices have both a right to be
heard, a right to self determination and a right to describe their own history
and injustices – which deny them equal status in the State of
Israel via it’s Apartheid Laws. For Palestinians the
racist endeaver is a racist reality.
WHY DID I
POST THE MESSAGE?
I have for
many years been a supporter of Palestinian rights and a member of Solidarity
Campaign’s. Social media is a very useful tool to organise and
communicate and provides an immediate forum for ideas and activism. It is
a tool to be used responsibilly for free expression (not licence) for
information sharing and organising as long as it does not incite discrimination
,hatred or violence. The CPS in 2017 updated a change of law regarding
it’s guidelines relating to Hate crimes whether online or offline. My post does
not violate any of these guidelines – as with all of our rights comes
responsibility , respect and tolerance.
There is no
right NOT to be offended. Because some people or groups are offended does
not in itself mean that a statement is offensive,and certainly in relation to
my FB post on the 5th October 2018 anti semitic.
would have been anti semitic if it had displayed prejudice , hostility or
hatred against Jewish people – it was not in any way using a stereotype
or trope. I do not consider the wording offensive – it did deliberately
use “a play on words” but context is everything. For example
the word HATE is a powerful word both a noun and a verb – and is usually understood
correctly to mean to despise, dislike, have intense hostility etc , but it’s
meaning and context as a signifer is received differently within the
culture when we prefix for example – ” Love Music
– Hate Racism”. The word Hate manifests itself
differently because of the context of use.
WAS THE POST
ANTI SEMITIC ?
NO. For the
semitism is a form of Racism along with the much more prelevant Islamophobia ,
see the latest Hate Crime statistics with over 52% registered as Islamophobic
Hate Crime. Anti semitism consists of prejudice ,hostility or hatred towards
Jewish people as Jews, which includes the use of stereotypes such as ”
Jews are good with money ” or it’s “Jews that control the Worlds
Financial markets etc”
,Israelis and Zionists are all separate categories of historical definition .
Holding ALL Jewish people responsible for the crimes of the State of Israel and
it’s crimes against Palestinians would constitute a charge of anti semitism,
this is a crucial point. This is why the post references the State of Israel
the State of Israel as a Zionist project does not constitute criticising Jewish
people as individuals or as a People therefore it is not anti semitic. It
is true some Jewish peoples are Zionists – the majority are not . For example
in the United States the most militant supporters of the State of Israel are
not Jewish Zionists but Christian Zionists.
Dictionary definition of Zionism -. “Zionism is a political movement to
establish a Jewish State in Palestine and a Zionist is a supporter of that
predates the Holocaust by some 60 years ,Zionists were discussing the
establishment of a State of Israel long before Hitler and the Holocaust, the
concept divided the Jewish Community then as it does so now. The most
fierce critics of the State of Israel are Jews and include some of the finest
minds within the Jewish community such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Rosen, Illan
Pappe,Dr Norman Finkelstein, Gideon Levy,David Graeber, David Rosenberg
etc.along with Jewish Groups including Orthodox Jews who are a regular feature
on Palestinian Solidarity protests.
semitism and a charge of anti semitism carries an immense moral force due to
World War 2 Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust. To “extend” the
meaning of anti semitism and to use it to apply to critics of the State of
Israel is cheap and an utter insult to the millions of Holocaust victims. It is
both historically incorrect and politically dangerous and devalues the horrors
of the Holocaust.
It is the
State of Israel which is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims by
ruthlessly manipulating the horrors to suppress all legitimate criticism of the
State of Israels actions in the illegally occupied territories and Gaza.
All forms of Racism – which include both anti semitism and Islamophobia are on
the increase both in Europe and the UK. The latest Hate Crime
figures illustrate this trend which has been increasing over the past 15
years , particularly Islamophobic Hate Crime – but also increases in anti
semitism, Disability Hate Crimes and Black Hate Crimes. We have witnessed a
climate of Hate for many years via both Political and Media outlets
around Refugees, Migrants, Go Home vans on the streets of East London, Hostile
Environment speeches and most shockingly this year the reporting of citizens in
our Black communities being both held in Detention Centres and deported. People
who have lived in this country all their lives.
Politician or Group to manipulate serious social and political issues by
deliberately conflating legitimate criticisms of the State of Israel with a
slur of anti semitism is dishonest and extremely unhelpful in tackling genuine
anti semitism. To label peaceful campaigns in response to the State of
Israels Human Rights abuses , support for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions as
“”inherently” anti semitic deems the struggle against anti
semitism in which all decent citizens and organisations should be involved.
It is also
worth examing the meaning of the word “Semite?”. A word that
includes various people’s – including Arabs. So if one is an anti Semite one is
also anti Arab. Although Jewish people are often included in the
semite grouping – Judaism is a Religion not a race or ethnicity. To
state that the State of Israel is a Racist State which is true based on it’s
policies and law making it has nothing to do with being against Jews as
Jews -. but rather with the State of Israels Government pursuing
discriminatory policies and enshined in law against the Palestinian population
forcing them to live as second class citizens and denial of basic democratic
The State of
Israel from it’s inception was created and built on violence and oppression of
the Palestinian population, some 70 years ago . That violence is
continuing and we are are again reminded of it’s violence each Friday when the
young people of Gaza engage in a March of Return at the Gaza border and are met
with bullets and tear gas , since 31st March 2018 over 200 have been shot dead
by Israeli soldiers.
DID THE POST
BRING THE COUNCIL INTO DISREPUTE?
It was a
post describing the State of Israel as I have illustrated . It was a
posting on the message board of Facebook in my own time not as an
employee of DMBC.
legitimised via Human Rights Act Article 11 – the right to associate with
others and gather for a common cause -the right to free expression the right to
peaceful protest and free speech.
bodies must protect a citizens Human Rights via the 1998 Human Rights Act.
refute the allegation made by the pro State of Israel front organisation
Campaign Against Anti semitism that my FB post is anti semitic .
organisation that was formed in 2014/15 to defend the State of Israel and it’s
Human Rights abuses against Palestinians in the aftermath of the invasion of
Gaza in 2014 and the death of over 1500 civilians which included hundreds
of children – rather than confront genuine anti semism. After all
one would expect all decent citizens to campaign against anti
and support all genuine actions against anti semitism . I have
attended many of the Dudley Holocaust Memorial Events at Dudley college where
Holocaust survivors have made extroadinary moving speeches about their
experieces and shared this important message with a new generation
of students. It is extremely important – now more ever – that
people are reminded of how societies can “slip” into a populist
language and where such language and actions can lead.
I stand with
all decent citizens in both a personal capacity and professional capacity to
combat prejudice, discrimination and hate . This includes active solidarity and
support for Palestine.