The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the UJS have produced a campaign resource to help students to combat the BDS movement on campus. What strikes us is how terribly thin it all is. We offer some brief rejoinders to their assertions.
JfJfP signatory Murray Glickman elegantly disembowels the argument, most recently put forward by Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, that denying Jewish people ‘self-determination’ is, by definition, antisemitic. An unconditional national right to self-determination in a territory for any particular group of people immediately violates that very principle for others in that same territory, whatever justified claims they might have to it.
In the United States, as in Britain, accusations of the prevalence of antisemitism abound and are used as sticks to beat those – protesting too vigorously? – at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But some antisemitism is real and it is important to make the right distinctions, to clarify the difference between expressions of antisemitism and support for Palestinian human rights. Here is a JVP policy statement on the issue.
This consists of two articles from Open Democracy by two JfJfP signatories in sharp disagreement. The first by Labour History professor Mary Davis attacks what she thinks is the monolithic view of Zionism – she doesn’t name who she means. JfJfP website has consistently pointed out the lack of consensus on what Zionism and especially anti-Zionism mean. Then she suddenly launches into an attack on BDS as monolithic. Where has she been during all the arguments about boycotting only settlement products or companies which profit from the Occupation? Jonathan Rosenhead responds, equally surprised at Mary’s lack of homework before going into print.
The idea of antisemitism came at a time when Jews were a politically weak, often poor, persecuted minority in Europe. That has ended. Israel today has one of the most powerful military forces in the world and Jews are the richest ethnic group in the USA. So what’s with this persecution complex? Lisa Goldman on how the Olympics were viewed through the glasses of persecution.
Up to the 1970s the idea of American Jews as progressive on civil rights was dominant – making black critics of Israel seem antisemitic. This article from The Forward makes it clear that the movement for black rights had people who used a standard leftist critique of Jews becoming ‘white’ and joining the establishment and those who used an antisemitic one of Jews controlling all financial transactions. The desire to put all Jews in one category seems itself racist.
The Royall Report, into alleged antisemitism at the Oxford University Labour Club earlier this year, was submitted to the Labour party in May. A brief summary was published but never the full report. That has finally been leaked to the Jewish Chronicle which does its best to inflame the situation, trumpeting that ‘Baroness Royall report reveals Oxford Labour students engaged in antisemitism’. It doesn’t. Here, JfJfP founder signatory Naomi Wayne offers an immediate response explaining why she finds the report a very odd and a very deficient document.
Shami Chakrabarti’s inqury into Labour antisemitism has met with almost universal acclaim. Her (unexpected) stress on civil discourse – rather than allocating blame – has been welcomed. But the tenor of her report is not infectious as this selection of reactions shows: the snarling attacks on Corbyn, who is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, continue and those who abhor this feel they must defend him, regardless.
Dr Kahn-Harris has a long commitment, as both researcher and activist, to understanding and ameliorating intra-Jewish conflict over the issues of Israel and antisemitism. He is the author, with Ben Gidley, of Judaism: All That Matters, Turbulent Times: The Jewish Community Today. He made a personal submission to the Chakrabarti inquiry which we are pleased to publish here.
In it Kahn-Harris draws attention to the profound disagreement among Jews over what constitutes antisemitism, aiming to put their various claims and counter-claims in context and to suggest ways in which the Labour Party might develop an effective response to antisemitism without exacerbating or exploiting Jewish differences on the subject.
Ramzy Baroud, syndicated Palestinian journalist, founder of Palestine Chronicle and vocal critic of Jew-hatred chooses the row over Corbyn and antisemitism as the subject of his latest column. He looks at the uses and abuses of antisemitism and, in particular how the secular idea of Zionism was kidnapped and incorporated into Jewish religiosity.
The international discussion that must be had on Israel and its borders and the future of the Palestinians cannot be avoided by banning it as antisemitic or ‘delegitimising Israel’ says MP Richard Burden. Israel exists. It’s not going away, but as a normal nation-state it has to behave like one, define its borders and stop breaking international law.
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