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Saturday 18 August 2018

Tory IHRA Examples Deception

The claims and counter-claims over alleged anti-Semitism within the Labour Party have had as their centrepiece the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) definition of anti-Semitism, and perhaps more importantly the four examples of anti-Semitic behaviour which accompany that definition. Labour has adopted the definition, but has not adopted in full the examples, and thus much of the criticism.
As befits the low cunning of the political opportunist, many Tories in and around Parliament have used the ruckus to pass severely adverse comment on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his fitness for office. Why, they ask, has Jezza chosen this hill to die on? Why can’t he and Labour, as Tony Blair might have put it, just, well, y’know … move on?

The counter argument includes the consideration that one of those four examples, “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour”, might curtail criticism of current Israeli Government policy and actions, especially over the recently-passed and highly controversial Nation State law, and its effect on Israel’s Arab citizens.

But while the argument rages, one actor in the drama has thus far escaped criticism for not adopting those IHRA examples. Who might that be?

An article by Rebecca Ruth Gould from the University of Birmingham, titled “Legal Form and Legal Legitimacy: The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism as a Case Study in Censored Speech”, reveals that the UK Government - ie the Tories in power - is that actor.

This is what Ms Gould tells of the Government’s actions “In most mainstream usages, particularly by its advocates, making the definition into a synecdoche for the entire text has enabled its proponents to conceal that fact that the UK Government adopted only the definition, without taking a formal position on the examples”.
The UK Government adoption of the IHRA definition occurred in 2016, at which time the Tories were in a majority in the Commons. And Ms Gould has more on the adoption.

Although it has not been widely publicised, the same caveat applies to many so-called ‘adoptions’, which involved only the definition, and not the examples. Neither the IHRA, nor the Israel advocacy community, have been scrupulous in clarifying these distinctions”.

In example, the article cites the LSE, which decided “that, while LSE had decided, following consultation with Jewish staff and students, to ‘adopt’ the IHRA definition, it explicitly did not adopt the examples”. The condemnation of the LSE for failing to adopt all the examples seems to have been rather low key.

So there you have it: the Government - that is, the Tories - adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, but did not explicitly adopt the examples. Yet for some reason the attacks which have been mounted against Labour for going further have not materialised.

Anyone might conclude that double standards were being applied. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Anonymous said...

None of these facts will make the slightest difference to media right wing propaganda.

The jobsworth clerks will continue to describe it as "The Story That Won't Go Away."

Which "story" of course will not go away because the bullshit "editors" and their front shills have absolutely no intention of letting it go. Nor do they have the slightest intention of ever telling the truth. Which is why they are held in contempt for the utter cowardly gobshites they are.

Iain said...

Also states in the article that the European Parliament adopted the definition but not the examples.

Perseus said...

In addition to the foreign lobbyists of a very small nation, exerted via Labour and Tory Friends of Israel, many of these attacks came from the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies. The former aren't elected, the latter are, but only via Synagogue attendees and women can't vote in some cases. Since only 0.4% of the British population see themselves as Jewish and only a third of these attend synagogues, it appears these Deputies are elected by a minuscule section of our population, perhaps less than 1 in a thousand! Yet they seem to think they have a right to dictate Labour policy! Of course they might argue that size doesn't matter and minorities are important. However, this isn't how they see alternative Jewish groups such as the Jewish Voice for Labour. The mainstream Jewish groups refuse all contact with them. As a result they have been excluded from consultation in Jewish Labour policy altogether.

Bob said...

I'm all for giving the Tories a hammering over their exploitation of false accusations of antisemitism against Labour, but I think you're mistaken here, or rather Rebecca Gould is mistaken.

Regarding the IHRA definition and examples, you quote her as stating that "the UK Government adopted only the definition, without taking a formal position on the examples". The basis for this claim would appear to be that the government's press release announcing the adoption of the IHRA definition quoted only the basic 38-word definition but not the rest of the IHRA document that includes the eleven illustrative examples.


In practice the government makes no distinction between the basic IHRA definition and the accompanying text that includes the examples. It acts on the assumption that they are all part of the definition. The fact that the press release didn't quote the complete IHRA text doesn't mean the government didn't adopt it.

The press release referred to the government's response to the Home Affairs Committee report on antisemitism in the UK. The committee had suggested that the "IHRA definition" should be amended to include "additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine". To which the government replied:

"Government has agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition on anti-Semitism. We believe that references within the definition stating that 'criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic' are sufficient to ensure freedom of speech."


But the words "criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic" don't appear in the 38-word core definition. They are part of the accompanying text. The government's response demonstrates that it regards the entire IHRA document as constituting the definition it has adopted.

Similarly, in response to a written question by Jenny Tonge as to whether the "official definition of anti-semitism will include criticism of the government of Israel", it was stated: "The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism adopted by Her Majesty’s Government does not preclude criticism of Israel. As the definition makes clear, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic."

The "full text of the working definition of anti-Semitism and examples" was attached, and a link was provided to the document online.


It seems clear that the government has adopted both the core 38-word definition and the additional text including the illustrative examples.

Unknown said...

Consistency is as important as facts in the vocation of the commissar!