We in the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign are anti-racist. National PSC is anti-racist. It is a condition of membership and we have expelled
racists in general and anti-Semites in particular.
So why do we object to the council adopting the IHRA definition of
anti-Semitism? The actual definition is
problem is that examples of anti-Semitism include believing that Israel is a
racist state.[ii] Sadly there is plenty of evidence that it is.
In 1948 the embryonic state of
Israel ethnically cleansed 750,000 Palestinians. This is what a spokesman for the Jewish
National Fund stated: “Between ourselves it must be clear that
there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not
achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way
than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries – all of them.
Not one village, not one tribe should be left.“[iii]
Israel from its foundation adopted two policies 1. Expel Palestinians and prevent them from
returning to their homes which was in defiance of United Nations Resolution 194[iv]
2. Give the right to emigrate to Israel
to all Jews whether they have any desire to, or have any reasonable links to
Palestine-Israel. This is clearly racist
It continues to this day.
Last year Israel passed the Nation State law. “Israel
is the historical homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive
right to national self-determination in it…”.[v] There are nearly two million Palestinians in
the state of Israel. They have been
relegated to second class citizens.
Adalah demonstrated that there are
65 laws in Israel that discriminate against Palestinians…”These laws limit the rights of
Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to
political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural
and language rights, religious rights and…during detention”[vi].
Israel continues to
illegally annex Palestinian land. Israel
has illegally settled 600,000 Israelis in Palestinian lands[vii]. “Israel’s
Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of
International Law, Security Council Reaffirms”.[viii] Netanyahu plans to annex the Jordan valley- a
move condemned by the European Union[ix].
Worse, Israel is creating an Apartheid state in the West
Bank. There are separate laws for Palestinian
children and Israeli children[x]. There are separate rules for water
consumption in the West Bank[xi]
[xii] There are roads that Palestinians are not
allowed to travel on[xiii].
An Israeli ambassador commented “In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian
state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope
that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state.”[xiv] Desmond Tutu said “I am especially urging the Assembly to adopt the
overture naming Israel as an apartheid state through its domestic policies and
maintenance of the occupation, and the overture calling for divestment of
certain companies that contribute to the occupation of the Palestinian
people,”. Five years ago, John
Kerry, US spokesman, said that ‘Israel risks
becoming an apartheid state if peace talks fail.’ That was five years ago, and talks did fail.[xv]
final points must be made. Jews are not
responsible for the policies of Israel.
The attitudes of Israel are the responsibility of the Government of
Israel and the uncritical military, diplomatic and economic support of Western leaders
like Donald Trump.
final point is that the Labour council has tied solidarity for the Palestinians
with the slur of anti-Semitism. There are
a number of Palestinian solidarity activities that have been curtailed because
councils and other bodies have adopted this flawed definition of
anti-Semitism. The Big ride for
Palestine has raised £130,000 pounds for children charities within Palestine. [xvi] The
final rally in London was due to finish up in Tower Hamlets. The council cancelled the venue because the
council had adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and they feared that
they would be accused of anti-Semitism.
In the Sheffield debate, Council Leader Julie Dore stated article 10 of
the Human Rights Act allows freedom of expression[xvii]
and that this trumps whatever the council choses to adopt. It makes no sense adopting a definition that
is immediately trumped by a human rights act.
However, we know from experience that councils and other bodies will
assume that basic solidarity with the Palestinians is somehow anti-Semitic and
feel free to cancel venues and speakers. Pease read the letters overleaf and
write to the council.
Sheffield Town Hall
Dear Julie Dore
I have noted the adoption of the IHRA definition of
anti-Semitism by the Sheffield City Council.
I have read some evidence that Israel is a racist state.
I conclude that the examples associated with the IHRA
definition of anti-Semitism will have the effect of curtailing legitimate
criticisms of Israel.
I feel it will also curtail legitimate acts of solidarity
with the Palestinians.
I ask the council to reconsider the adoption of the clauses associated
with the IHRA definition of anti Semitism.
Sheffield Town Hall
Dear Julie Dore
I have read the statement by Palestine solidarity Campaign.
I have read some evidence that Israel does appear to be
racist and the IHRA definition does appear to be flawed. Is there any statement in the PSC document
that you would like to disagree with or question?
[i] Anti-Semitism 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.”
[x] JURIST Guest Columnist Rifat Kassis,
President of Defence for Children International (DCI), argues that Palestinian
children detained by the Israeli military often face abuse, mistreatment and
torture in violation of international law and human rights
But it’s also a day to remember,
and fight for, 2.1 million Palestinians who suffer something different – an
artificial water scarcity deliberately created and sustained by Israel’s
military occupation, and the private Israeli water company Mekorot.
[xv] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/28/israel-apartheid-state-peace-talks-john-kerry. He did later regret using those words.