This is the second blog addressing a new report on anti-Semitism brought out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research
Two questions arise from the report that need a serious answer. The first is that ‘all political groups located on the left, are no more anti-Semitic than the general population.’ Given that antiracism is a fundamental principle for us on the left, this is concerning. We should be better. The second is the following ‘we find that the existence of an association between the anti-Semitic and the anti-Israel attitudes tested, is unambiguous.’
This is a puzzling result. Traditionally, those of us who are strongly for justice for the Palestinians want Jews to live fulfilled lives in the UK, USA or France. We do not want them to emigrate to Israel to oppress the Palestinians, so why does this report not reflect that? There are a number of possible explanations for this result.
I have asked for the actual questionnaire but so far without success. (The organisers feel it is of commercial value.) There are a couple of problems. I cannot understand why there is no question about the illegal Israeli settlements, though this is likely to be a major ground for hostility to Israel.
The second set of problems is to do with the IJPR survey’s methodology. The survey has a string of questions about attitudes to Israel interspersed with attitudes to Jews. If the responder is still thinking of their answer to Israel is deliberately trying to wipe out the Palestinian population (23% agreement), Israel is committing mass murder in Palestine (24%), Israel is an apartheid state (21%) they may answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Jews think they are better than other people’ (13%) because they are thinking within the context of Israel. The answer is still anti-Semitic but the confusion is made easy. This factor could have been reduced by having separate sections, one about attitudes to Israel and another about attitudes to Jews.
A wider source of conflating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism comes from the definitions used. Britain has adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The definition is not a legal document (and hence is useless for many situations). Worse, because the definition is fuzzy it needed a set of guidelines. For a legal opinion see here . These guidelines can brand people who want justice for the Palestinians as anti-Semitic. (According to one guideline claiming ‘State of Israel is a racist endeavour’ is an example of anti-Semitism.)
Another guideline says ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’ is anti-Semitic. I agree.
Israeli spokespeople could help clarify the situation. They could issue the true statement
‘The Israeli Government killed 10 people trying to get aid to Gaza, built an illegal wall, stole Palestinian land, and has established an Apartheid state. We wish to make it clear that Jews in Britain, France, the USA etc. took no part in planning or carrying out these activities and should in no way be held responsible. The planners and the people who did these things were Zionists please blame us.
They could update it every time they carry out an atrocity.
Instead they repeat ad nausea, that the state of Israel is the home of all Jews (irrespective of the ideas of the Jews themselves). The crimes listed above were done in the name of the ‘Jewish state’. If a Jew has the temerity to say that Israel is a racist state and they want nothing to do with it, they are roundly condemned by the likes of Mark Regev (Israeli ambassador) as anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew. The claim that Israel is the home of the Jews is then repeated followed by another atrocity.
This was on the PSC called protest against Balfour.
We in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have a huge interest in combatting anti-Semitism. Racism of any sort undermines the democratic and socialist ideas on which a progressive political movement has to be based. We want Jews to be part of that and to live happy and fulfilled where they are, and not emigrate to Israel. We are constantly abused by people who want mass Jewish emigration, and have an interest in misstating our position.
They want to drown out criticism of Israel in a sea of slanders alleging anti-Semitism. We want to oppose racism here and in Israel-Palestine.