Flawed birth and body of Declaration against antisemitism
The article by David Shoebridge and John Kaye is followed by the London Declaration on Combatting Antisemitism and an interview with John Mann MP. Notes and links at the foot contains an unusual number of items owing to the odd links this item has.
Lord Malloch-Brown at the London Conference on Combatting antisemitism “stressed the need for the international community to separate the political unrest in the Middle East and Israel’s foreign policy from criticism of Jews. “
By David Shoebridge and John Kaye, newmatilda.com
May 28, 2013
Anti-semitism is one of the oldest forms of bigotry. Its long and ignoble history includes some of Western civilisation’s darkest moments. From Edward the First’s expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 to the Russian pogroms of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, irrational, unrelenting and vicious hatred of the Jews is a tragic and repeating pattern in history. Too often it has been fostered by Western religious and political leaders and enthusiastically adopted by their propaganda-soaked populations.
Its resurgence in public discourse in modern Europe — after a four-decade hiatus — along with crude Holocaust denials from Iran’s leaders, is good cause for anxiety. That anxiety must not be confined to the Jewish people.
Some will therefore be surprised by our decision to not sign the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism.
Drafted at a February 2009 meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) held in London, the Declaration contains a number of laudable commitments to stamp out any resurgence of hatred against a people who have historically suffered more than most.
The document however wrongly conflates valid criticism of the state of Israel with anti-semitism.
This is an unacceptable slander on those of us who speak up for the rights of the Palestinians. Criticism of the state of Israel that is motivated by a hatred of the Jews is contemptible. By contrast, criticism that is motivated by concern for a people dispossessed of their land, the consequences of a state that is founded on a religion or ethnicity or the actions of a government that ignores UN resolutions, is a valid contribution to public discourse.
The London Declaration deploys the same tactics that a number of Zionist organisations have relied on in their push to delegitimise political opposition to the expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and the crippling blockade of Gaza.
The Declaration thus excludes many reasoned and fair-minded members of parliament who are deeply appalled by anti-semitism.
The first clause of the Declaration, under the heading “Challenging Antisemitism” calls on Parliamentarians to “expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity.”
Of course, every elected official should expose those who engage in hate against the Jews, as both of us have and will continue to do. However, signing the declaration turns MPs into vigilantes against anyone who raises concerns about the fact that Israel is unashamedly based on a religious or ethnic identity. Using this rationale, critics of Iran, who reject its extremist religious theocracy, would be open to criticism under such a clause. Such concerns are not anti-semitic, nor are they racist. In fact, they are the opposite.
We question why this clause was drafted in this fashion. If the intent was to expose the genuinely anti-semitic critics of Israel, whose sole motivation is to prosecute a hatred of the Jews by targeting Israel, then the clause could readily have accommodated this. We would have gladly signed a declaration that consistently focused on a call to Parliamentarians to “expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target any organisation or entity specifically because of its Jewish identity or association”.
A similar problem arises at clause 6 which calls for governments and the UN to ensure that “never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nation states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for anti-semitism”. This is a strong and entirely supportable aim but then the clause proceeds with “including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena”.
Critics of Indonesia for its treatment of West Papuans, China for its treatment of the Uighurs and the Tibetans or North Korea for its abuse of its entire civilian population are constantly “singling out” those states “for discriminatory treatment in the international arena”.
Boycotts against Burma and Apartheid South Africa were by their nature discriminatory but they were highly effective in facilitating the demise of brutal regimes.
Those of us who refused to purchase South African produce or park our savings with banks that had investments in the Apartheid state were not acting out of malice towards white South Africans. Those of us who successfully called for sanctions against the brutal military regime in Burma were not bigots. But we were arguing for discriminatory treatment of these states. We were singling these nations out for special treatment because their abhorrent actions demanded a response. The same applies to Israel’s unrelenting, and escalating, abuse of the rights of Palestinians.
The same clause in the Declaration also demands that “we will never witness – or be party to – another gathering like the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and other related Intolerances in Durban in 2001″.
That meeting, chaired by former Irish President Mary Robinson, was marked by sharp divisions over the impacts and resolution of historical ill-treatment of one group against another. Along with the dispossession of the Palestinians, the conference agenda ranged from “reparations for slavery and colonialism, caste discrimination in South Asia, equal rights for ethnic minorities, migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and people afflicted with HIV/AIDS, to self-determination for indigenous peoples”.
Discussion of the proposition that “Zionism is racism” resulted in the Israeli and US delegations walking out and the ongoing antipathy of the Zionist movement toward the conference and its successors. The neo-conservative right in both these nations has since worked hard to extend this criticism to the whole of the UN.
Whilst there are some interpretations of Zionism that are compatible with a peaceful, multi-ethnic and religious state, in its name Palestinian homes have been demolished, the granting of Israeli citizenship has been granted based on the grounds of race and religion and illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank have been constructed.
The Durban conference was seen by most observers to have been ineffectual, mostly because it was unable to resolve the slavery reparations issue. Many Africans were left angry and frustrated by the failure of European states to understand and take responsibility for the consequences of slavery.
People who are genuinely opposed to racism would want to see progress on almost every issue raised in the conference’s agenda. Many of the matters aired in Durban have become more pronounced and their impacts more damaging in the succeeding decade, including the practices of the Israeli state in the name of Zionism. The fact that a number of long-standing and sometimes bitter divisions regarding race and history were discussed at Durban is not a reason to condemn it. The better course is to learn from both its successes and shortcomings and continue an international dialogue on all these issues.
The London Declaration also attempts to label any move for boycotts as anti-semitic. Clause 24 calls on education authorities to “ensure that freedom of speech is upheld within the law and to protect students and staff from illegal anti-semitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts”.
This is not an isolated attempt to suggest that calls for boycotts of businesses that have links to the illegal settlements or that support the Israeli military are anti-semitic. They are not.
The supporters of Israel have tried to emotionally link the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement to Hitler’s “Judenboykott” of 1 April 1933. There is absolutely no similarity, just as there is no connection between trade sanctions against Burma and the disgusting behaviour of the Nazis.
The BDS movement focuses on the Israeli connections of a business, not the religious affiliation or ethnicity of its proprietors. Many Zionists and their newly-found conservative Christian supporters refuse to acknowledge there is a difference. However, there most certainly is in the minds of the overwhelming majority of consumer boycott participants. Nobel laureate and physicist Stephen Hawking who is no longer visiting Israel for academic conferences, is not doing so because Israel is a Jewish state but because he can no longer lend his support to the repression of the Palestinian people.
It is a tragedy that the London Declaration is a flawed document. The fundamental intent – to combat and end irrational hatred against a people – is too important to be subverted by the political objectives of Zionism.
Efforts to combat genuine and threatening anti-semitism are undermined by labelling any criticism of the state of Israel and its government as anti-semitic. There are some international actors, with Iran as an outstanding example, who go beyond legitimate critiquing of Israel’s policies to what can only be considered outright anti-semitism. This is unacceptable and is rightly the subject of international condemnation.
However, the label of “anti-semitism” must not become the universal response to the growing number of critics of Israel’s human rights abuses. When people of goodwill express their opposition to Israeli soldiers routinely humiliating Palestinians at checkpoints, the construction of an apartheid-style segregation wall through the West Bank or the brutal use of Israeli military force against civilians in Gaza, their motivation is not to denigrate the Jewish people but to highlight injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people.
Thankfully, for most of the world anti-semitism remains a hateful thing that must be combatted. But there are real dangers in the Zionist strategy. If the tag “anti-semitic” is continually used as a blanket response to all of Israel’s critics, it will lose its potency and its power.
In the long run there is nothing to be gained for either the Jewish or Palestinian people by erecting a barrier to genuine critique of the state of Israel. There are even greater dangers in degrading the battle against anti-semitism in this effort.
We, Representatives of our respective Parliaments from across the world, convening in London for the founding Conference and Summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, draw the democratic world’s attention to the resurgence of antisemitism as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society.
We note the dramatic increase in recorded antisemitic hate crimes and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, and Jewish religious, educational and communal institutions.
We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations in rhetoric and political action -against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel.
We are alarmed by Government-backed antisemitism in general, and state-backed genocidal antisemitism, in particular.
We, as Parliamentarians, affirm our commitment to a comprehensive programme of action to meet this challenge.
We call upon national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of antisemitism and discrimination.
We today in London resolve that;
Parliamentarians shall expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity;
Parliamentarians should speak out against antisemitism and discrimination directed against any minority, and guard against equivocation, hesitation and justification in the face of expressions of hatred;
Governments must challenge any foreign leader, politician or public figure who denies, denigrates or trivialises the Holocaust and must encourage civil society to be vigilant to this phenomenon and to openly condemn it;
Parliamentarians should campaign for their Government to uphold international commitments on combating antisemitism -including the OSCE Berlin Declaration and its eight main principles;
The UN should reaffirm its call for every member state to commit itself to the principles laid out in the Holocaust Remembrance initiative including specific and targeted policies to eradicate Holocaust denial and trivialisation;
Governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nation states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for antisemitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena, and we will never witness – or be party to -another gathering like the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and other related Intolerances in Durban in 2001;
The OSCE should encourage its member states to fulfil their commitments under the 2004 Berlin Declaration and to fully utilise programmes to combat antisemitism including the Law Enforcement programme LEOP;
The European Union, inter-state institutions, multilateral fora and religious communities must make a concerted effort to combat antisemitism and lead their members to adopt proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism;
Leaders of all religious faiths should be called upon to use all the means possible to combat antisemitism and all types of discriminatory hostilities among believers and society at large;
The EU Council of Ministers should convene a session on combating antisemitism relying on the outcomes of the London Conference on Combating Antisemitism and using the London Declaration as a basis.
Governments should fully reaffirm and actively uphold the Genocide Convention, recognising that where there is incitement to genocide signatories automatically have an obligation to act. This may include sanctions against countries involved in or threatening to commit genocide, referral of the matter to the UN Security Council, or initiation of an interstate complaint at the International Court of Justice;
Parliamentarians should legislate effective Hate Crime legislation recognising “hate aggravated crimes” and, where consistent with local legal standards, “incitement to hatred” offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict;
Governments that are signatories to the Hate Speech Protocol of the Council of Europe ‘Convention on Cybercrime’ (and the ‘Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems’) should enact domestic enabling legislation;
Identifying the threat
Parliamentarians should return to their legislature, Parliament or Assembly and establish inquiry scrutiny panels that are tasked with determining the existing nature and state of antisemitism in their countries and developing recommendations for government and civil society action;
Parliamentarians should engage with their governments in order to measure the effectiveness of existing policies and mechanisms in place and to recommend proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism;
Governments should ensure they have publicly accessible incident reporting systems, and that statistics collected on antisemitism should be the subject of regular review and action by government and state prosecutors and that an adequate legislative framework is in place to tackle hate crime;
Governments must expand the use of the EUMC ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform policy of national and international organisations and as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies;
Police services should record allegations of hate crimes and incidents -including antisemitism -as routine part of reporting crimes;
The OSCE should work with member states to seek consistent data collection systems for antisemitism and hate crime.
Education, awareness and training
Governments should train Police, prosecutors and judges comprehensively. The training is essential if perpetrators of antisemitic hate crime are to be successfully apprehended, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. The OSCE’s Law enforcement Programme LEOP is a model initiative consisting of an international cadre of expert police officers training police in several countries;
Governments should develop teaching materials on the subjects of the Holocaust, racism, antisemitism and discrimination which are incorporated into the national school curriculum. All teaching materials ought to be based on values of comprehensiveness, inclusiveness, acceptance and respect and should be designed to assist students to recognise and counter antisemitism and all forms of hate speech;
The Council of Europe should act efficiently for the full implementation of its ‘Declaration and Programme for Education for Democratic Citizenship based on the Rights and Responsibilities of the Citizens’, adopted on 7 May 1999 in Budapest;
Governments should include a comprehensive training programme across the Criminal Justice System using programmes such as the LEOP programme;
Education Authorities should ensure that freedom of speech is upheld within the law and to protect students and staff from illegal antisemitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts.
The Criminal Justice System should publicly notify local communities when antisemitic hate crimes are prosecuted by the courts to build community confidence in reporting and pursuing convictions through the Criminal Justice system;
Parliamentarians should engage with civil society institutions and leading NGOs to create partnerships that bring about change locally, domestically and globally, and support efforts that encourage Holocaust education, inter-religious dialogue and cultural exchange.
Media and the Internet
Governments should acknowledge the challenge and opportunity of the growing new forms of communication;
Media Regulatory Bodies should utilise the EUMC ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform media standards;
Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes;
The OSCE should seek ways to coordinate the response of member states to combat the use of the internet to promote incitement to hatred;
Law enforcement authorities should use domestic “hate crime”, “incitement to hatred” and other legislation as well as other means to mitigate and, where permissible, to prosecute “Hate on the Internet” where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written;
An international task force of Internet specialists comprised of parliamentarians and experts should be established to create common metrics to measure antisemitism and other manifestations of hate online and to develop policy recommendations and practical instruments for Governments and international frameworks to tackle these problems.
Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism
Participants will endeavour to maintain contact with fellow delegates through the working group framework, communicating successes or requesting further support where required;
Delegates should reconvene for the next ICCA Conference in Canada in 2010, become an active member of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition and promote and prioritise the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. Lancaster House, 17 February 2009
He may be a non-Jewish politician, but he’s one of the community’s staunchest allies in the fight against anti-Jewish hatred
February 12, 2009
John Mann MP at a Limmud conference. He says he has witnessed “disgraceful” antisemitism in Parliament
Labour MP John Mann is not Jewish. He is a blunt, tough-talking former trade union official from Yorkshire who says he has only ever come across one Jew in his Bassetlaw constituency in Nottinghamshire. There may be nothing Jewish in his background but, according to informed figures, no-one has done more than Mann in recent years to fight hatred against British Jews.
He has persuaded parliamentarians from every continent to come to London for the London Conference to Combat Antisemitism which begins on Sunday. The cast of characters is, like Mann, predominantly non-Jewish. He does not see this as strange or unusual. Indeed, he is adamant that the fight against antisemitism should be led by non-Jews.
Over coffee at Westminster, Mann, who is the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, recalls: “I went to a global forum in Jerusalem where I was the only non-Jew attending and that seemed absurd.
“It’s not the way we do things here. It’s imperative that the wider community leads the fight against antisemitism, which should be called what it is — a form of racism.
“The vast majority of MPs in this country are not Jewish and so the vast majority of those involved in our work are not Jewish — it’s a good thing that we have Muslims, Christians, agnostics and atheists [in the parliamentary group]. It’s what makes our work representative.”
The participants at the conference, which is hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is the first of its kind, will be discussing a range of issues on which Britain has already made considerable progress. In fact, those in the know feel that Mann and his committee lead the world in many areas.
Mann says: “I hope that individual countries will be more inspired but also more informed on specific actions they can take. What we want are not grand plans but successes.”
He is particularly proud of the work his committee has done on internet hate. He feels that the methods adopted by Britain should be an example to the rest of the world.
“We’ve had huge successes in Britain and in our view, the world can learn from that. We want to showcase the detail of how it’s been done because in my view — and in this case the view of the British government — this is a good model.”
Mann is also concerned to ensure that other areas are tackled effectively — notably campus hate and antisemitism in football (he also fronts the Football Association’s Task Force on Antisemitism and Islamophobia).
Ironically, he believes that the fact there are more recorded cases of antisemitic incidents in Britain compared to other European countries is actually proof that we are getting things right.
“That is because people are more likely to complain and protest here and also that the recording and monitoring systems are better. Others could learn from that. We are the most honest here and increasingly the Jewish community — not least the young Jewish community — is prepared to do something rather than accept it.”
However, he does see as disturbing the fact that January’s total of reported antisemitic incidents — more than 270 — is the highest on record. “Of course it’s linked to Gaza,” he says.
“This has provided the subtext for those with hatred or ignorance. It’s perfectly reasonable to have a debate over what is happening in the Middle East, but to use it as an excuse for racist actions is not acceptable.”
Mann is under no illusions that Britain faces a considerable antisemitic threat but feels we all need to tread that fine line between paranoia and complacency. “Despite the fact that Jews are right to be on their guard, it is others who are on the receiving end of the brunt of racism in the UK,” he says.
“The overwhelming majority of race-hate crimes are committed against the Muslim community. It’s a far bigger population and tensions are quite high in some areas.
“There aren’t those tensions in Jewish areas. The Jewish community is well integrated in British society and has been there for a long time. In light of that, it’s shocking that there are any incidents involving the Jewish community at all. The risk to any individual Jewish person is very small. But if you tolerate any risk, there is always a danger that the problem could worsen.”
So what is the source of the problem? Mann feels that it lies in three main areas which have been well documented by his committee — on the far-right, from Muslim extremists and from those on the political left. Of those three, he sees left-wing antisemitism as the most insidious because of its dishonesty.
“Antisemitism on the left isn’t a new problem but it has re-emerged. There is a deliberate and calculated confusion of anti-Israel sentiments with antisemitism. Sometimes it is deliberate and sometimes it stems from ignorance, but that doesn’t make it any different for someone on the receiving end.”
Ignorance is certainly no excuse for parliamentarians and Mann has witnessed serious antisemitism in the Palace of Westminster itself.
“As a non-Jew I hear things that people would not say if they perceived I was Jewish. I have witnessed shocking, disgraceful and outrageous antisemitism in Parliament, including statements from those who are meant to be bastions against racism. One of the things I’ve challenged is the perception that Jews are rich and therefore are ‘good for donations’. Other antisemitism has been more abrupt and upfront — and completely cross-party.”
Mann has spoken fluently and passionately for nearly an hour on the subject of antisemitism but he is much more reluctant to talk about his own background.
He has been an MP since 2001 following careers as a union official and as a businessman running a company organising conferences. He gives his entire biography in two terse sentences and waits patiently for the next question. So why did he get involved in the fight against antisemitism? After all, there is very little, if any, political capital in this issue.
He smiles and looks embarrassed. “I don’t know. I drew the short straw I suppose. Someone asked me on the right day or perhaps the wrong day. I didn’t have any great interest in it relative to other issues. I had no particular knowledge or expertise.” His comments are perhaps slightly disingenuous. He was noticed as a potential chair of the All-party Committee when he turned up unannounced at a Commons adjournment debate on antisemitism and gave what was widely perceived as the best speech on the day. So what made Mann speak? “I can’t remember,” he replies.
He considers for a moment before continuing: “If I may say so, it’s a strange question. Why shouldn’t people be interested in this kind of thing? If we are political leaders, shouldn’t it be part of our role? The strange thing would be if people weren’t interested.” He adds with a smile: “I have no vested interest and no one has paid me to do the job. I wouldn’t accept the money anyway — I’m not in the House of Lords, you know.”
Notes and Links
David Shoebridge is a Greens Member of the Legislative Council, New South Wales, Australia and co-convenor of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine.
John Kaye is also a Greens MLC. In a debate in 2011 he said “I put on the record again that The Greens moved a motion this morning to condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms….There is, of course, a legitimate debate about advancing the rights of Palestinians who have been dispossessed by Israel, who have been left stateless, without human rights, and who have been left with a dysfunctional territory.”
The London Declaration (2009) is not to be confused with The London Declaration (2011) against extremism and terrorism pledged by a mass gathering of Muslims at the Wembley Arena in September 2011.
Gathering of Muslims in UK denounces violence.
The London Conference for Combating anti-Semitism , February 2009, was hosted by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
FCO Annual Report on Human Rights, 2009
“The London Conference came in the wake of a significant increase in anti-Semitic attacks around the world following Israel’s action in Gaza. In his speech to the conference the then Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown stressed the need for the international community to separate the political unrest in the Middle East and Israel’s foreign policy from criticism of Jews. ”
Media release from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
25 Feb 2008
MP Mann mentioned that the government of Britain proposes to host next year’s conference of the Forum in London.
Delegates from the 40 states that participated in the conference expressed support for the idea of establishing an international coalition for combating antisemitism and the desire to be a part of it. Many delegates also commended the Foreign Ministry; the Antisemitism and Holocaust Remembrance Department and Minister Herzog for the impressive and important conference that instilled in many of them a sense of commitment and momentum that they will take with them to their own countries.
FM Livni, in her opening address, said that Israel views the fight against antisemitism as a central part of its foreign policy and expressed the hope that more states will treat the subject with the same degree of urgency, placing the fight against antisemitism at the top of their priorities.
Minister Herzog stressed that the importance of the conference was in the formation of a front consisting of governments, judicial systems, international organizations, public opinion shapers, academic leaders and experts who joined forces to combat antisemitism in every place in which it rears its ugly head. “The situation is complex, the challenges are enormous, and I am sure we can meet them,” said Minister Herzog.
The director of the Antisemitism and Holocaust Remembrance Department at the Foreign Ministry, Aviva Raz-Shechter, said at the end of the conference that the feeling among the participants was that the objectives of the conference had been achieved. “We turned the conference into a global forum in which Jews and non-Jews alike share a commitment to combat antisesmitism.” Raz-Shechter added that the announcement about establishing an international coalition and the proposal to host the Forum in Britain reflect the success of the conference.
The Global Forum for Combatting Antisemitism is organised by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held its first meeting in Jerusalem, 2009, with 27 representatives from the UK amongst the 500. It was addressed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who ‘characterized the delegitimization of Israel as the new form of anti-Semitism’and was followed by noting that whilst it is not deemed politically incorrect to be an anti-Israel [sic], the desired results of anti-Semitism have been achieved by re-branding the product to show Israeli soldiers killing weak Palestinians. He added that while Israel indeed concurs with the need to create a Palestinian state, the global community at large does not empathize with the idea of the Jewish right to a homeland.’ [Report from WIZO, December 2009]
About Us , ICCA website
The world is witnessing today an escalating, sophisticated, global, virulent and even lethal antisemitism, that is arguably without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War.
This escalation and intensification underpins – indeed, necessitates – the establishment of an international coalition to confront and combat this oldest and most enduring of hatreds. Silence is not an option. The time has come not only to sound the alarm – but also to act. As history repeatedly instructs, hatred focused against the Jews, inevitably infects wider society.
The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) brings together Parliamentarians from around the world to lead the fight against resurgent global antisemitism. Its principal purpose is to share knowledge, experience, best practice, and recommendations, encouraging their dissemination in an attempt to deal more effectively with contemporary antisemitism.
Gatherings will be thematically-focused and dedicated to sharing the best examples of the initiatives and involvement of its members, through working groups and plenary sessions, as was the case with the inaugural London Conference in February 2009.
The Coalition’s pronouncements are informed and inspired by the expertise and experience of its members. They reflect the consensus of the Coalition, and invite the attention and respect of national governments and international institutions alike.
The steering committee of the ICCA consists of:
- Yuli Edelstein, Member of the Israeli Knesset and Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora
- Christopher Smith, Member of United States Congress
- Fiamma Nirenstein, Member of the Italian Parliament
- Irwin Cotler, Member of the Canadian Parliament
- John Mann, Member of the British Parliament
- Gert Weisskirchen, Member of the German Bundestag
Rigorous readers will remember British MP John Mann, chairman, All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, for his role as a witness for Ronnie Fraser. The report had this to say about him and fellow MP Dennis McShane, former chairman of the enquiry panel of the same All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism:
We did not derive assistance from the two Members of Parliament who appeared before us. Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions. For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti- Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is …” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.
John Mann came to prominence for his speech in an adjournment debate on antisemitism, July 2007, Westminster Hall.