Not the least depressing thing about the IHRA ” definition” business is the presentation of it as the considered work of the IHRA. Obviously this gives it great emotional impact. If you don’t accept the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance you are a mere one step away from being a Holocaust denier/ reviser, and a very short step at that.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner……
“Beyond popularity, it was also defined by those who we really ought to trust on this matter, the IHRA, which learned from the consequences of antisemitism. To deviate from a definition with such weight requires serious consideration and an equally serious counter proposition.”
Now you might wonder why an organisation dedicated to promoting Holocaust Remembrance is involving itself in such political shenanigans. What has it to do with Holocaust rememberance? The reality of course is that it is not the work of the IHRA at all, but a copy and paste of Kenneth Stern’s work. As such it has to be called out as a cynical, shameless political exploitation of the Holocaust.
How did we get from the well meaning work of Kenneth Stern and Andrew Baker, to a situation in which having doubts about a definition amounts to an existential threat to UK Jews and to the bizarre proclamation by the eccentric, ultra racist editor of the Jewish Chronicle that ” They have declared war on the Chief Rabbi” ?
This cannot be understood without first understanding the role of the highly duplicitous Community Security Trust ( CST ). CST is the brain child of the time served mega fraudster, Gerald Ronson. It, and its ” partner organisations“, the BoD, and the JLC, constitute the three pillars of the UK Israelist lobby and the self appointed alleged “leadership” of the ” Jewish Community”.
While Stern and Baker were engaged in their well meaning work, darker forces were gathering and sticking their noses in. Prominent among them was Michael Whine, the CEO of CST. The same Whine that told a Limmud fringe that ” we shouldn’t hate Muslims, but it is understandable that people do.” ( h/t Gabriel Webber )
Whine immediately saw the value of the ” definition” as a weapon with which to cow people and institutions into restricting talk about Israel to what was ” acceptable“.
Now the ” definition” found its way onto the the EUMC site as a discussion document. It wasn’t and never has been ” adopted” ( as we shall see ). At the top of the CST home page there was a menu. Included in the menu was ” ANTISEMITISM”. The drop down from there included ” DEFINITIONS”. Upon clicking on the definitions option I got a big surprise. It did not take me to Mark Gardner’s favoured dictionary. It took me to the “EUMC Working Definition”
We were introduced to the ” definition ” by a series of rolling categorical blatant lies.
“ The EUMC, in collaboration with key NGO’s drafted a single comprehensive definition for use in the field. It employs plain language to enable the definition to be easily accessible to a wide range of law enforcement, justice and government officials, as well as to NGO’S and experts who assist in the monitoring process.”
” This definition was adopted by the EUMC, and disseminated to its national monitors”.
” In collaboration with……….representatives of the newly formed Tolerance and Non Discrimination section of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.”
The purpose of all this duplicity was, of course to make it extremely difficult for anyone to talk about The State of Israel in less than eulogistic terms without also having to defend themselves against charges of antisemitism. This enterprise had significant success.
However, in 2013 disaster struck.
The EUMC’s name had changed, in 2007, to the Fundamental Rights Agency. Late in 2013, the now named FRA, decided to clear some unused junk from the garage. Among the junk it removed from its web site was the so called working definition of antisemitism.
It is impossible to over state the impact of this. For years Israelist ultras have used reference to this ” definition” as a stick with which to beat anyone who over stepped THEIR mark vis a vis Israel. The sense of loss was akin to bereavement.They were apoplectic and a crescendo of pleas and threats rained down on the FRA. The Simon Weisenthal Center bemoaned ” the loss of a valuable weapon”.
The FRA responded as follows.
“We are not aware of any official definition of antisemitism.”
” We have never viewed the document as a valid definition of antisemitism.”
” The document has been pulled along with other NON OFFICIAL documents.”..
” The agency does not need to develop its own definition of antisemitism” in order to research these issues.”
“The agency has no mandate to develop its own definitions”.
When it was pointed out that The Agency had, in 2008 published a document that contains definitions of homophobia and transphobia, The Agency replied…
” The Agency has defined neither, but has used international standardsof certain definitions, terms and concepts.”
In other words, in those cases they had simply restated THE concepts.
So there you were and there you had it. Or so you would have thought. However, to have thought that would have been to grossly underestimate the duplicity of CST and other organisations it works closely in conjunction with.
I, and probably others, confronted CST on this issue. There was of course no direct response. Except that changes were made to the web site. One would have hoped that the CST would have held its hands up, declared it a fair cop, and quit with the batshit. But no. The changes were even more duplicitous than the original.
If you now chose the definitions option you found an intro to “The Working Definition “. Notice they have gotten bolder. No longer the EUMC working definition but THE working Definition.
However, once again we were given the same drivel as before, about how it was created and disseminated in order to blah blah blah…This was to create the impression that we were about to be exposed to an official document of the European Union. Then if you clicked the working definition hot link you found yourself on the web site of something calling itself The European Forum on Antisemitism. There you would have found a copy and paste of what they called the EUMCWD, which was then padded out with even more constraints on how you may talk about Israel without being dismissed as antisemitic.
What is the European Forum on Antisemitism ? Well nothing really. You may as well consult the publications of my local ferret fanciers club. The easy way to grasp it is to think of a bunch of self appointed John Mann type characters getting together and giving themselves a fancy name. If you look at their logo it even is designed to kinda look a bit like the EU logo. Stars and stuff. A creation designed to keep alive the spirit of the much loved and lamented EUMCWD.
The EFOA wheeze was all too transparent and despite the best efforts of CST it didn’t fly. LFI made a desultory show of getting behind it. For example the execrable Joan Ryan went around for a while saying stuff like ” That’s antisemitic see the EFOA definition”. But it soon fizzled out.
For a good while the definitions game was in decline. The Israelists had to get along without it. Except for a few die hards like the nut job Jonathan Hoffman who were still going around demanding ” compliance” with the ” EUMC Working Definition”.
However, the Israelist orgs never reconciled themselves to the loss of the EUMCWD.
Then in 2016 new life was breathed into it. Someone had the brilliant idea that it was all in the name. What if we could work the Holocaust in there somewhere ? You can’t keep a good Humpty Dumpty down. An American delegate to the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance convention, Mark Weizman, and a Romanian delegate ( the convention was in Bucharest ) persuaded IHMA to adopt its own definition. This was a copy and paste of Stern’s two sentence definition. Then the two heisters put together a press statement into which they inserted Sterns “examples.” Suddenly it was game on again.
To cut a very long story short the Tories of the CST set out to get the ” definition” adopted by the Tory government, confident that they had the connections and the leverage to do so. This confidence was not misplaced. Subsequently Theresa May announced that the government had ” adopted” the definition.
There are two particularly interesting things about May’s statement.
Where would you expect May to make this declaration ? In parliament ? Via some official government organ ? She in fact made the announcement at a Conservative Friends of Israel dinner !!! It is impossible to imagine a clearer confirmation that this entire business is not about antisemitism at all, but is all about The State of Israel.
In October 2016 the allegedly “powerful” Parliamentary Committee On Home Affairs published a report on ” antisemitism” in the UK, in which it broadly accepted the IHRO definition. It did, however, recommend a caveat …..
“It is not anti-Semitic to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.”
This they said, was in order to protect free speech.
The government rejected this as ” unnecessary”.
Now governments, generally, take the line of least resistance in these circumstances. There was not, after all, a compelling national interest here. Not a British national interest at any rate ( unless you count our hard won civil liberties). So why was the caveats rejected ? It is not rocket science. The CST vetoed it. The very last thing CST and their ” partner organisations” want is Israel being held to the same standards as liberal democracies.
The Home Affairs Select Committee is obviously not as powerful as we are led to believe. Certainly not as powerful as Gerald Ronson.
Interestingly, the cancellation of an Israel apartheid event at the University of Central Lancashire, on the grounds that it contravened the IHRO definition and therefore unlawful, referred to by Stern as McCarthyite, has also been referred to by Mark Weizman. Weizman tells us that that is just what the role of the definition is.
This assault on the above mentioned civil liberties, in the service of a foreign power, must be resisted at all costs. Liberal socialists must be in the van of this resistance, not in the van of the facilitation of the assault. Stand up Jon Lansman John McDonnell Owen Jones to name a few.
There is one country, and one country only, that we may not speak freely about.