On 1 June, the European Parliament voted, by a very large majority, for a new resolution on antisemitism. It goes without saying that we deplore, yet again, the singling out of antisemitism from other manifestations of racism. Not a word on the others, whereas, for example, Islamophobia is rampant and Romophobia is deadly. But it’s more serious. At closer inspection, it’s not so much a matter of reining in antisemitism as of restricting free speech and of criminalizing any criticism of Israel.
The resolution, by means of paragraph 2, embodies the criteria proposed by the ultra-Zionist International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) to define antisemitism. If this recognizes as antisemitism the hate of Jews qua Jews, the definition does not stop there. Thus “Denying the Jewish people (sic) their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” also falls within the definition. Ditto “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic (sic) nation”. Antisemitism? *
The UK and Austria have recently adopted this definition, and the disastrous effects have not taken long to make themselves felt. It is in this environment that the Palestine Expo 2017 in London was almost cancelled under pressure, planned for early July.
In France as well, the refrain which insidiously combines the least criticism of Israel and/or of Zionism to that of antisemitism plays non-stop. No need for the IHRA definition in France!
However, if the vote of this resolution in the European Parliament is not legally binding, it contributes to reinforcing the rancid climate where criticism and Israel in the same sentence is silenced and criminalized. The vote constitutes a devious attack against free speech through the medium of the only democratic institution in the European Union.
With the notable exception of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left and some Greens, all the Parliamentary groupings have listened more or less religiously to the whingeing of the hyperactive pro-Israeli lobbies – in the first rank of which is the IHRA and the European Jewish Congress – which have ultimately won out after a long and costly campaign.
But we’re not deceived. This resolution has not been gained only under pressure. It’s a vote of conviction. It has been approved by a large majority comprising an alliance not as diverse as appears at first sight: from the right wing of the social democrats to the nationalist and anti-Semite extreme right – all, with rare exceptions, have voted for the resolution.
Without a tacit ideological bond founded on an Islamophobia essentially taken for granted and the unfailing strategic support of the Neoconservatives for Israel, such a coalition would have been inconceivable. It suffices to scratch below the surface of the ‘good intentions’ of this resolution to readily discern its raison d’être, which besides has little to do with the situation of Europe Jewry. It’s necessary to highlight that there is no officially condoned antisemitism in Europe, and that this vote is clearly intended to prevent not genuine antisemitism but the legitimate political criticism of a state, of its policies and of its character.
The vote on this resolution brings home to us that, here in Europe, the right to criticize Israel is based on the general freedom of political expression – an asset so precious and fragile that it is necessary to defend it at all costs.
The Union Juive Française pour la Paix was established in 1994, and was a foundation member of the Fédération des Juifs européens pour une Paix juste in 2002. The UJFP has as its masthead: The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can only be resolved by the cessation of the dominance of one people by another, by the implementation of the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and of the right to create its own independent state. No just and durable solution is possible without a total withdrawal of Israel from all territories that it has occupied since 1967, without the right of return for Palestinian refugees and without an end to internal Israeli apartheid which constrains its Palestinian population to second-class status.
Translated by Evan Jones.
* The May 2016 IHRA declaration includes in its list of ‘contemporary examples of antisemitism’ the item ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’. Given that the central thrust of the IHRA definition of antisemitism fuses the state of Israel indissolubly with Jewry in toto, this item is a glaring anomaly. More, are there ‘actions of the state of Israel’ that Jews might find distasteful? It suggests that the authors are either thick as two bricks or they have a brutal sense of humour. Put it down to an unparalleled