Friday, July 20, 2018

British Labor Party Redefines Anti-Semitism

From Mosaic Magazine, 19 July 2018:

Leader of UK Labor: Corbyn

The UK Labor party’s national executive recently adopted a code of conduct on anti-Semitism intended to discourage its members from publicly denouncing Jews—or at least to salvage its reputation in light of their tendency to do so. But rather than base its new code on the definition of anti-Semitism set forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which is highly respected in Europe—as they were urged to do by the Anglo-Jewish community and many others—the party leaders decided to employ a far narrower definition. 
Dave Rich comments:
The IHRA definition . . . recognizes that nowadays anti-Semitism often appears in discourse relating to Israel, either by targeting Israel itself as a proxy for Jews or by repeating old anti-Semitic slanders with “Israel” or “Zionist” swapped in for the word “Jew.” This is where Labor’s alternative code of conduct on anti-Semitism . . . falls down. . . . For example, in the Labor code it is not [deemed anti-Semitic] “to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.” The code simply says this is “wrong.” . . . Yet this charge, that Jews cannot be trusted or must always be suspected of having a hidden agenda, is central to the old-fashioned, right-wing anti-Semitism that the party claims to oppose.
Similarly, the IHRA definition says it is anti-Semitic to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but Labor’s code says this is only the case if there is “evidence of anti-Semitic intent,” a caveat it attaches to all “contentious views” relating to Israel. Nor does Labor’s code agree with IHRA that it is anti-Semitic to argue that the very idea of a state for the Jewish people is a “racist endeavor.”
Thus in today’s Labor party, it is possible to argue that Israel is a Nazi-like state that should be wiped from the map, and that any Jews who say otherwise are probably paid by Israel to do so, and should not be hauled up for anti-Semitism. You may be told that your language is insensitive or impolite and asked to go on an education course, but your anti-racist reputation will remain intact.
All along, the Labor leadership has failed to explain why it feels it can’t use the IHRA definition. . . . It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Labor leadership does not want to use [it] precisely because it addresses anti-Semitic attitudes that, for years, have circulated and become normalized in the parts of the left where Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have spent their political lives.
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