The furore over antisemitism in the labour party in UK gives many people cause for confusion. I lay out below the International definition: 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. Manifestations might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- 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).
- Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Legal opinion states that: “The Definition is a clear, meaningful and workable definition. The Definition is an important development in terms of identifying and preventing antisemitism, in particular in its modern and non-traditional forms, which often reach beyond simple expressions of hatred for Jews and instead refer to Jewish people and Jewish associations in highly derogatory, veiled terms (e.g. ‘Zio’ or ‘Rothschilds’). Public bodies in the United Kingdom are not ‘at risk’ in using this Definition. Indeed, this Definition should be used by public bodies on the basis that it will ensure that the identification of antisemitism is clear, fair and accurate. Criticism of Israel, even in robust terms, cannot be regarded as antisemitic per se and such criticism is not captured by the Definition. However, criticisms of Israel in terms which are channels of expression for hatred towards Jewish people (such as by particular invocations of the Holocaust or Nazism) will in all likelihood be antisemitic.”
We could argue for example that slavery was as an horrific sin as the Holocaust, undoubtedly there have been a number of crimes against humanity but none I would argue were of the immensity of the Holocaust.
Belief in the fact and extent of the Holocaust remains crucial in conditioning our perception of the Jewish race. The Holocaust is a recent example of the persecution of the Jewish race that has continued unabated since the tenth century. The Holocaust was the greatest and the most dreadful example of genocide and brutal crimes against humanity in the history of the human race. The Holocaust was the greatest of example of a National Government’s of institutionalising of a focused hatred of a particular racial group. Today hatred may not be the public face of governments but hatred is rife and is stoked by the extreme right, and like most causes of hate, ignorance plays a strong hand.
T he re-establishment of the State of Israel has been a massive issue especially for those who were displaced a the time. The evolution of modern Israel has been both painful and extraordinary. There are as many opinions about the political initiative and the way things have turned out. There have been many rights and wrongs and to comment on this epoch of history is not wrong. Nor, I daresay, is there any absolute corrective measure available to Jewish friend or foe.
One of the great wonders of the tribes of Israel is that no matter where they live, they by and large are proud of their religion and heritage and remain Jews. Israeli Jews, American Jews, British Jews, etc. They are proud and disciplined, they believe in being Jewish. I find this admirable and I am in awe of a clan that despite the terrors of the past remain true to their cause and proud of their roots. There is not a single nation that has not benefitted from their Jewish citizens, in science, medicine, and the arts. I get a big buzz from classical music and so many of my idols are Jews. The list goes on and on, from Albert Einstein in science, Daniel Barenboim and Lenny Bernstein in music, George Soros in industry and philanthropy.
Of the total population of Jews, around 40% live in the USA and 40% in Israel the rest are scattered around the world. Many are orthodox in the religious sense. Jews though by and large integrate seamlessly into society with a small number supporting ultra orthodox traditions. These orthodox groups do tend to group together and do wear clearly ‘different’ garb and personal adornments. In this regard orthodox Jews and devout Muslims choose to mark themselves as ‘different’ deliberately and proudly showing their religious and cultural heritage.
For those who are less aware, difference is often frightening. Why are they not like us? This is a cry that has risen in time immemorial, the struggles of those who are different from the majority. Those tribes who stick together in our midst, who we see as different and sometimes superior, sometimes as subversive, sometimes as inferior. Those who run the gauntlet of being deliberately different must surely understand the reaction they get from the majority whether they be Jewish, Muslim, Sikh or whatever sect that sets them apart. The guiding light as they all see it, is a common one; we believe in who we are.
The question remains, why crimes of hate against the Jews is differently defined from hate against those of colour, those of different religion or different homeland? It is of course the Holocaust, this dreadful crime against the proud Jewish race stands alone in its sheer dastardliness, its inhumanity, its sheer size and scope. To think that it could have happened at all is difficult, but we must never forget.
Man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds, and this very day someone, somewhere, will take an Israeli or a Palestinian life because they hate. I would not attempt to propose a solution to the impossibly difficult issues surrounding Israel but one thing I know, hate will not generate a solution.