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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
EMERGENCY MOTION ON ANTI SEMITISM PASSED AT LONDON ASSEMBLY
Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore proposed successfully an emergency motion at the London Assembly to adopt the definition of anti Semitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). (video here and sum up here) (text of motion, passed unanimously, below)
Mr Dismore said:
‘Last week’s annual report by the Community Safety Trust (CST) is shocking but regrettably not surprising.
‘They recorded a significant rise in UK anti-Semitism with 1,309 incidents in 2016, a rise of 36%.
‘Anti- Semitism, the world’s oldest hatred, is a very light sleeper and easily triggered. by events at home and elsewhere.
‘Nothing in this motion is aimed at stifling legitimate criticism of Israel, but it makes clear where that ends and demonization of the Jewish state as a manifestation of antisemitism begins. Indeed I have my own criticisms.
‘Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank is wrong and against international law.
‘I recognise the Palestinian people’s desire for national self-determination as the same for Jewish people.
‘And If I were Israeli I would never have voted for Mr Netanyahu.
‘But when people from the left proclaim that Israel is a Nazi state or compare Israelis to SS murderers, they are using the most horrific and personal imagery to Jewish people. To do so is not only anti-Semitic in itself, but also downplays the significance of the Holocaust and the suffering of its victims and survivors.
‘Conversely, on the right, believers that the world is engaged in a clash of cultures approve of a strong Jewish state in the Middle East – they support Israeli settlement building as part of a generational struggle rooted in Islamophobia. These same groups on the right hold in disdain the majority of diaspora Jews, who are overwhelmingly centrist liberals especially in the UK and North America. This in the eyes of the alt-right makes them enemies of their national projects.
‘Steve Bannon, chief strategist to President Trump is on record using various demeaning terms about Jews. When he refers to a shadowy group of “cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of larger cities” He means Jews.
‘At a meeting of Jewish Republicans, President Trump stated how honoured he was to be in a room of ‘great negotiators’ and then went on to suggest that they wouldn’t like him because he doesn’t want their money. Another anti-Semitic trope.
‘So why is this relevant to this motion?
‘As former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said, antisemitism is a mutating virus that can attach itself to the political left or right, minority or majority or within the national consciousness of a people.
‘Thus 2016 was a woeful time for anti-Semitic incidents with spikes around the EU referendum and Brexit vote; and the election of US President Trump.
‘2017 has not started well, either. During the weekend after the inauguration of President Trump, in Edgware and Mill Hill a brick with swastikas was thrown through the window of a Jewish home, eggs were thrown at Jewish people and others subject to verbal abuse.
‘The hyped up anti-immigrant campaigns around Brexit and in the USA are not merely co-incidental but causal, used by some misguided and unpleasant individuals as permission to display openly their prejudices- prejudices directed not just at Jews, as the CST has so graphically shown, but including the full gamut of hate crime creating a perceptible climate of increased racial and religious hate and xenophobia.
‘And the prognosis remains bleak throughout wide swathes of continental Europe too, with the French Presidential election seeing the rise of the Front Nationale’s Marine Le Pen, the mounting challenge of Alliance Für Deutschland in Germany , and other far right parties making ground in Austria and the Netherlands.
‘The CST statistics were published around Holocaust Memorial Day, an event in the calendar I was instrumental in founding when I was MP for Hendon. This year’s commemorations were especially poignant, and came as a sadly necessary reminder that divisive and racist rhetoric can lead to the most appalling crimes. If we really mean “never again” then we must all play our part in calling out, challenging and rooting out anti-Semitism and hatred.
‘It is a long motion for which I make no apology. Too many people have tried to argue over whether or not a particular comment was anti-Semitic. This motion makes clear what is not acceptable.
‘Mayor of London Sadiq Khan shares our concerns. He has given a clear personal lead by making combating hate crime a key priority for the Metropolitan Police; and by demonstrating through personal example and his interfaith and intercommunity initiatives there is no space for racism and anti-Semitism in London.
‘By passing this motion, the Assembly will also demonstrate its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism.
‘But this is something we need to do not just as London’s Assembly but also as individuals, calling out, challenging and rooting out anti-Semitism and hatred, whenever we see it personally.’
The full text of the Motion is:
This Assembly expresses alarm at the rise in anti-Semitism in recent years across the UK including London. This includes incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using anti-Semitic tropes.
We therefore welcome the UK Government’s announcement on December 11th 2016 that it will sign up to the internationally recognised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) guidelines on anti-Semitism which define anti-Semitism thus:
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
The guidelines highlight manifestations of anti-Semitism as including:
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
Applying double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
This Assembly hereby adopts the above definition of anti-Semitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism.