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I wrote the following as a comment elsewhere and (as is my wont) I’m reposting here:

The IHRA ‘definition’ has it that:

“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.”

The proposition here is that antisemitism is not equivalent to antipathy towards Jews (though it may be expressed as such) it is a ‘certain perception of Jews’ but that perception is not described and therefore has no gives no information and therefore cannot define anything.

Nevertheless this ‘definition’ has been adopted by the Labour party. Since it is empty of meaning examples were necessary to give it any utility. I understand that the NEC found four of the eleven IHRA examples problematic and made ammendments. The four examples are: “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.”“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.” “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.” “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

To take just one of these examples: “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.” This is problematic because it could be taken to deny expression of a legitimate interpretation that the founding of the state of Israel, by priveliging one ethnic group over another and through its implementation was a racist endeavour. It could also be taken to deny expression of the thought that the current policies and practices of the state of Israel are racist. It might be argued that the wording does not deny these expressions as it concerns itself with the existence of the State of Israel not with its founding or its policies and practices but what expression does it then deny? Mere existence cannot be said to be an endeavour at all let alone a ‘racist endeavour’; existence is a precondition to any endeavour. Phrasing such as this can be taken to mean very little or very much. It is correct to say that the definition with its examples is not fit for purpose if that purpose is sanctioning antisemitic racism while protecting the right to speak freely against oppression and injustice wherever and by whomever it is perpetrated.

It is the right of any autonymous organisation or community to determine how, subject to national laws, it is governed internally. It is the duty of such organisations to apply due diligence to the adoption of guidelines. To abrogate that responsibility to outside bodies would be a dereliction of duty on the part of elected officers.

I’ve not posted in this blog for several week so here’s a catchup via my favourite Facebook posts from May to July. This includes posts on our holiday in Istanbul.

Marc Wadsworth

More than 40 Labour MPs formed a human shield around their Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth this morning as she arrived at a disciplinary hearing of an activist accused of being anti-Semitic towards her.

Flanked by dozens of her colleagues, Ms Smeeth, an outspoken campaigner against anti-Jewish hatred in the Labour Party, was heckled by far-left activists demonstrating outside the hearing in Westminster.

She was due to give evidence against Marc Wadsworth, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who is alleged to have accused her of colluding with the media during a press conference on anti-Semitism two years ago.

The exchange, which took place at the launch of Labour’s Chakrabarti report, resulted in Ms Smeeth breaking down in tears.

Mr Wadsworth was condemned afterwards by Baroness Chakrabarti, who said he had behaved “incredibly rudely”. He was later suspended pending investigation.

Read more from the Telegraph 24 April 2018: http://tgr.ph/Hj0MNJ

As Smeeth walks out (from the Chakrabarti Report Launch) I hear Jeremy Corbyn dealing with what Wadsworth has said. He is dealing with it calmly, no dramatics. This is what I expect from politicians, rationality. I am too often disappointed. ‘How dare you? How absolutely dare you?’ shouts Smeeth Is that what we should expect from those who have the privilege to represent us? Yes Wadsworth is clumsy, but Smeeth is cruel.

When she shouts ‘how dare you’ and walks out it no longer matters what Wadsworth has said, what he alleges, Smeeth has changed the nature of the interaction argument to intimidation. How dare he challenge her? To challenge authority and privilege is indeed an act of daring. Observe this carefully, observe where power lies and ask who is being victimised.

Marc Wadsworth has been expelled from the party, not for the antisemitism that he had been accused of but for ‘bring the party into disrepute’. It is not however Wadsworth who has brought the party into disrepute it is Smeeth. To my eyes it is Smeeth but I suppose my eyes do not matter.

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone has been in the news again. The fuss over a remark he made two years ago continues.

It seems to me that Ken made a daft and irrelevant remark that was not dismissed as a daft remark but was immediately attacked as heresy. I find the reaction a lot more scarily fascistic than anything Ken said ..

Where there is free speech there are going to things said that offend others. Sometimes this will be understandable and we will take other people’s being offended or hurt into account, at other times we will explain why what we have said is important to us.

I understand the sensitivities around comparing the behaviour of the Israeli state to that of the Nazi regime but where the analogy is apt it should not be out of bounds. The analogy is not used of particular Israel individuals, behaviours or institutions on account of their Jewishness but on account of their oppressiveness and to fail to condemn that oppressiveness is as much a betrayal of those who suffered under Nazi oppression as it is of those who suffer in Gaza under Israeli oppression. This Holocaust survivor makes this point powerfully:

(BTW, I do not endores the headlined equivalency. I don’t know much about the Zionist philosophy but I condemn oppressive Israeli practices)

The demonisation of Bashar al Assad and the Syrian government has reached absurd proportions but he is no demon.

To be continued ..