So the Labour NEC have given in over ‘anti-semitism’, and agreed to accept all the ‘examples’ appended to the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, as well as the definition itself (which they had already accepted two years ago). I can see why they did it – to get the Jewish community, or what is claimed to be the Jewish community – off their backs. But I still wish they hadn’t felt they needed to. The examples were offered not as parts of the definition itself, but as attitudes which might turn into or be hiding anti-semitism, and for discussion only. Some of them really are problematical. Here are three:
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 endeavour.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Surely all these positions are at least arguable; and are argued even by some Jews. I’ve offered the opinion myself, only the other day, that Israel is self-evidently a religio-racist state; and the observation that Netanyahu’s rhetoric echoes Hitler’s in some regards (see https://bernardjporter.com/2018/09/03/anti-semantics/). As for the first of these ‘examples’: that seems to me to be amply borne out by the conduct of Margaret Hodge and a few other Jewish Labour MPs recently, in allowing their views about Israel to endanger the election of a Labour government in Britain, in what Labour MPs like Hodge ought surely to regard as the highest ‘national interest’ right now. Do these view now make me anti-semitic, or disqualify me from membership of the Labour Party?
OK, so the NEC had to do it. But this whole affair – and the virulence and dishonesty of the ‘Jewish’ campaign against Corbyn – surely can’t have made Labour members more supportive of British Jews or even of Israel than 99% of them were before. It certainly hasn’t had this effect on me.