Welcome to the Witchhunt
or Would the Labour Party Expel Einstein for Antisemitism?
Date Written: 06/10/2018
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23022
Who is to decide whether criticism of Israel goes beyond that levelled against any other country? In any case, Israel is not like any other country. It is a settler colonial state, founded on massacres and ethnic cleansing. It is, by any definition, a criminal state. Transferring Israeli settlers into the occupied territory is illegal, as is transferring Palestinian prisoners into Israeli jails. The Wall, built largely on Palestinian land was judged illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. The collective punishment inflicted on the people of Gaza is a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel itself is a racist state where Arabs are viewed as a demographic threat. Unlike other countries (Myanmar is an exception), it is not a state for all its citizens but for all the Jews in the world, who are given the Right of Return, a right denied to the indigenous people.
But according to the IHRA definition we are not allowed to say this. What makes Israel worthy of special protection?
The IHRA definition gives as an example of antisemitism: Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour.
This is tantamount to saying that antisemitism is the same as anti-Zionism since only Zionists (and antisemites) believe that Jews are a people and that their self-determination means a Jewish state. Jews are not, in any ethnic sense, a people or a race. All that Jews share is a religion??and whatever ethical values may be derived from that??and a history of persecution. The mass of Yiddish speaking Jews in Poland, Lithuania and Russia were against the Zionist project. True the socialist Bund wanted Jewish autonomy based on a language and a culture, for which they were labelled Zionists with sea-sickness by someone (probably Lenin), but they were totally opposed to a Jewish state in Palestine. So were the religious authorities of the time since it is written in the Torah and the Talmud that Jews are forbidden to return to the Holy Land until the Messiah comes. Nowadays most, but not all, Jewish religious groupings have accommodated themselves to the reality of the Jewish state even though it would seem to be a sin against God.
And this, of course, is what its all about. Silencing, censoring, stifling legitimate free speech. Nothing to do with combatting real antisemitism, everything to do with false accusations of antisemitism to protect Israel from criticism. The IHRA definition has been used as an excuse to suspend or expel too many Labour Party members, to close down too many meetings supporting Palestinian rights, to smear with spurious accusations of antisemitism too many speakers and writers speaking out for justice for Palestinians. Professor Moshe Machover is just the latest example, expelled from the Labour Party for writing an article in the Labour Party Marxists newsletter which documents the collaboration between the Nazi regime and the Zionist movement.The accuracy of his article has, unsurprisingly, not been challenged since it is all a matter of historical record. But the expulsion letter maintains that his article appears to meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism which has been adopted by the Labour Party.