On 26 May 2016 in Bucharest, a Plenary session of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted, what was admitted to be, a “non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism.” The definition read as follows:
“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.”
The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines the term Semite as a “person speaking one of a group of related languages, presumably derived from a common language, Semitic (see Semitic languages).” This includes Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, some Ethiopians and Aramaean (Aramaic speaking) tribes, including Hebrews.
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism excludes all other Semites including, of course, the main victims of political Zionism, the Palestinian people. Zionism in practice results in the continuing seizure of Palestinian land, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the forced removal of Palestinian communities and individuals into refugee camps, and the establishment of Jewish-only colonies in Palestine which, according to UN Resolutions, have “no legal validity”. Israel’s interests require that insults and discrimination against Jews must always be described, not as anti-Jewish but as anti-Semitic. The Balfour Declaration embodied and partially obscured European Zionism’s denial of Palestine’s history and culture and it reflected the imperialist outlook that it shared from the beginning with its supporters in the British Government.
The dehumanising of Palestinians
In his article How the corporate media enslave us to a world of illusions, Jonathan Cook, an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, explains how, after moving to Nazareth and getting to know the Palestinian people, he suddenly found his former employer, The Guardian, opposing his efforts to explain the Palestinian experience. Jonathan has been awarded the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism and the citation reads: “Jonathan Cook’s work on Palestine and Israel, especially his de-coding of official propaganda and his outstanding analysis of events often obfuscated in the mainstream, has made him one of the reliable truth-tellers in the Middle East.”
The heavily Zionist-influenced mainstream news media report the news in such a way as to lessen the likelihood of public sympathy for grieving Palestinian families. Cook notes that “Palestinian deaths are invariably reported as nothing more than statistics – because Palestinians die in large numbers, like cattle in an abattoir. Israelis, by contrast, die much more rarely and their deaths are recorded individually. They are dignified with names, life stories and pictures. Even when a moment arrives to single out a Palestinian from the mass of death, western corporate media show great reluctance to do so. Just take the case of Razan al-Najjar, the 21-year-old Palestinian medic executed by a sniper’s bullet as she tended to the unarmed demonstrators regularly being killed and wounded at the perimeter fence encaging them in the prison of Gaza.”
Razan al-Najjar’s humanity does not suit the carefully-nurtured Zionist image of Palestinians as terrorists. Accordingly, as Cook tells us, “the corporate media has not invested al-Najjar’s death with the emotional, empathetic coverage it would if a pretty young Israeli female medic had been gunned down by a Palestinian.” It was that double standard that outraged Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell. Because his newspaper had barely covered the story of al-Najjar, Bell drew a cartoon “highlighting her death – and its oversight.” With cold indifference, The Guardian‘s editors censored the cartoon, arguing – you’ve guessed it – that it was anti-Semitic. Cook notes “the truth is that al-Najjar is dangerous” to what he terms “the Great Western Narrative.” Once you see the humanity, the propaganda begins to fail.
Theresa May on definition of anti-Semitism
Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, quickly embraced the IHRA working definition. She said “Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish.”
Where is the guarantee to flourish in Israeli Army invasions of Palestinian homes that see heavily-armed soldiers blindfolding and manacling children in front of their distraught parents before taking them off for interrogation?
Where is the guarantee to flourish in Israeli Army destruction of Palestinian schools?
Theresa May’s loyalty to Zionism prompted her to say: “It is unacceptable that there is anti-Semitism in this country.” Will the UK Prime Minister acknowledge that her playing down of Israel’s malevolent and hateful crimes against the Palestinian people encourages Zionist anti-Semitism? In welcoming the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism, she observed that, “It means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism . . .” One definition! That is, if the Zionists are allowed to get their way. But as human rights lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, has observed, the narrow and obfuscating Zionist interpretation adopted by the IHRA “has no legal status or effect”. The Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, together with the blockade of Gaza, also have no legal validity.
Israel imposes its will upon the Palestinian people in the name of Jewish people worldwide. For many of them, the Zionist state’s daily violations of international humanitarian law are a grievous affront. One of the first Israeli lawyers to defend Palestinians in the Israeli Supreme Court died last week in Germany. Born in Poland in the early 1930s, Felicia Langer lost nearly all her relatives in the Nazi Holocaust. She studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and, opposed to the racist-Zionist ideology, dedicated herself to the legal defence of Israel’s Palestinian victims. She challenged, among many things, Israeli Army destruction of Palestinian homes and the practice of imprisonment without trial. She also courageously accused Shin Bet of torturing prisoners.
In the 1990s, she finally realised that Israel was exploiting the judicial system and legal proceedings for the benefit of pro-Israel propaganda. She left Israel and moved to Germany, where she continued the fight. In an interview in 2012, Langer said: “I left Israel because I could no longer help the Palestinian victims with the existing legal system and the disregard for international law that was supposed to protect the people whom I was defending. I couldn’t act. I was facing a hopeless situation.”
According to the Israeli journalist and author, Gideon Levy, Felicia Langer’s fight in Israeli military courts was doomed to fail: “It has no prospect of success because the military courts are only subject to the laws of the occupation and not to the laws of justice.” Levy adds: “Israel’s Supreme Court will be remembered as the primary legitimiser of the occupation and as an abject collaborator with the military.”
It is time for the world to recognise that Zionism’s future depends upon the decline of respect for international humanitarian law, and that people like Langer fight for the enforcement of international law, which means an end to exemption for Israel. Zionist claims of ‘anti-Semitism’ must not be allowed to succeed in diverting attention from Israel’s crimes against humanity.
Two Western politicians, on totally opposite sides of the Zionism versus respect for international humanitarian law divide, both attract much publicity. One of them, US President Donald Trump, has formed an alliance with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and has moved the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On 25 June, the Israeli TV station i24 revealed that Trump had also frozen all civil assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Two months ago the US Congress had already decided to oblige the PA to stop paying aid to the families of Palestinians killed by Israel, and a number of projects run by international aid agencies, working to alleviate Palestinian suffering, will also be suspended due to the US funding freeze. This latest US policy is based upon the accusation that the PA supports terrorism. Meanwhile, massive US taxpayer-funded support for Israeli state terrorism will continue to benefit the Israeli military. US priorities, with regard to the security of civilians, is clearly revealed in a notice from an official of the HALO Trust, warning that the Trust had been forced to stop its landmine clearances because the US had recently suspended its budget.
Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour Party leader, offers the world a rational alternative to the fanatical support for Zionism exhibited by both Trump and Theresa May. Corbyn is scheduled to visit on Saturday, 30 June, the Al-Baqa’a UN refugee camp in Jordan, home to about 100,000 Palestinians. The camp was established informally in 1948 after the creation of the state of Israel and became formally recognised in 1968 as an emergency refuge for Palestinians driven from their towns and villages by Israel in 1967. Jeremy Corbyn has described Donald Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, in tacit ‘recognition’ of the city as Israel’s capital, as a “catastrophic mistake”. In April, Corbyn attacked Western politicians for their failure to hold Israel to account and deplored the muted reporting by mainstream news media of its slaughter of protesters in Gaza. He also said that Britain should consider stopping the sale of arms to Israel that “could be used in violation of international law”. Corbyn’s courage and outspokenness have, of course, resulted in massive amounts of venomous rhetoric, accusing him of anti-Semitism. Without a shred of evidence, the Zionist lobby is even accusing the Labour Party of harbouring mounting anti-Semitism among its members. Listen to the voices of British Jews who reject that calumny.
Zionism exploits the tragedy of the Holocaust and uses the slur of ‘anti-Semitism’ to discredit all who demand an end to its violations of international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention exists as an eternal tribute to the memory of the Holocaust and all who suffer from war and injustice. Growing numbers of Jews around the world say to Israel, not in our name, and the success of the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is on the increase. Political Zionism can, and must, be repudiated. We owe it to generations of Israel’s victims and to decades of selfless, dedicated resistance on the part of human rights activists worldwide.