Labour has hit back at critics of its watered-down IHRA definition of antisemitism by referring to the 2016 Home Affairs Select Committee Report which – it says – also proposed an amended definition, to include ‘intent’. To call Israel a racist State, Labour says, is only antisemitic if motivated by antisemitic intent.
No, no, no – They cannot be allowed to get away with such sophistry!
One: How can Labour possibly judge ‘antisemitic intent’ when its definition of antisemitism is wrong?
Two: Here is what the Home Affairs Select Committee Report said:
‘24.We broadly accept the IHRA definition, but propose two additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate. The definition should include the following statements:
#1 It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
#2 It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.’
#1 goes without saying and is in the IHRA.
#2 is absurd – of course it is ‘not antisemitic to hold the Israel Government to the same standards’. The IHRA says it’s antisemitic to hold it to DIFFERENT standards!! Even if the wording was correct, it would be inconsistent with the Committee’s other recommendations. For example, it did not say that it might not be antisemitic to call Israel a racist state, if antisemitic ‘intent’ is not there.
Three: IHRA says ‘To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations’. ‘May’………….. If Labour wanted wriggle room, there it is ….It did not have to mutilate the definition!