Weekend long read

1) Unsurprisingly to anyone familiar with the BBC’s record, its coverage of the latest events connected to Temple Mount has not included providing audiences with an objective view of past and present use of that site as a central factor in Palestinian incitement. Petra Marquardt-Bigman discusses “The media’s deadly silence on Al-Aqsa incitement“.

“Yet, even if you follow the news on the Middle East diligently, chances are you know very little about the vile incitement that Muslims are used to hearing there [al Aqsa mosque]. The mainstream media are largely ignoring it, even though reporting about it would make it much easier to understand why anything to do with the Al Aqsa mosque inflames Muslim religious passions – and violence – so easily.”

2) Relatedly, at the Tablet, Liel Leibovitz writes about last Friday’s terror attack in Halamish.

“…the murder was entirely foreseeable, the direct result of Palestinian officialdom’s torrent of incitement regarding al-Aqsa. When the Israeli government placed metal detectors at the entrance to the holy compound after three Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli police officers there earlier this month, the Palestinian leadership mobilized to portray the preventative security measure as an Israeli attempt to take the holy site away from Islam itself. Never mind that, ever since it reunited Jerusalem in June of 1967, the Jewish state has gone out of its way to award the Waqf, the Muslim religious body that administers the site, complete autonomy, going as far as to bar Jews from praying at the site we, too, consider holy lest we offend the sentiments of the irate Imams. Never mind that the response came after a bloody Palestinian terror attack, which, one would think, is the sort of action that desecrates the site’s holiness much more than a thousand metal detectors ever would. Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies have spent all week hysterically yowling that the Jews were marching on al-Aqsa, and al-Abed, 19 and impressionable, listened.” 

3) The Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Katz records his impressions after a recent visit to Temple Mount.

“…the Mount was empty. There were some tourists – one Chinese group, and another from Europe – but almost no Muslims were there. One who was there, wearing a gray jalabiya and holding an umbrella to shield himself from the sun, whizzed by on an electric wheelchair. Another Arab man, a representative of the Wakf identifiable by the walkie-talkie he held in each hand, eyed Jewish visitors suspiciously, but didn’t follow.

He couldn’t – there were too many police officers. Four walked in front, four in the back and three on each side. Two carried cameras, filming the entire visit in case they would need to arrest and charge one of the visitors for violating the long list of rules posted at the entrance. There, Jews and foreigners alike go through metal detectors and have their bags and identity cards inspected before being allowed to ascend the Mount.

One tourist, for example, had come to the Temple Mount after doing some shopping at the nearby Arab shuk. The guard found a wooden cross and a rosary in her bag. Those had to be left in a locker, since religious paraphernalia – at least those that are not Islamic – are not allowed on the compound.

The identity of the Jewish visitors is also carefully scrutinized. Identity cards are collected, names are punched into a computer, and if something suspicious comes up, the visitor is taken aside for further questioning.”

4) As regular readers know, the BBC does not as a rule cover internal Palestinian affairs and so the absence of any reporting on a new PA law comes as no surprise. Khaled Abu Toameh explains the “new Palestinian law combating information technology (IT) crimes”.

“The controversial Cyber Crime Law, signed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on July 11, permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for “liking” or sharing published material on the internet.

Critics say the law paves the way for the emergence of a “police state” in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank. They also argue that the law aims to silence criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership.

The new law comes on the heels of the PA’s recent decision to block more than 20 Palestinian websites accused of publishing comments and articles critical of the PA leadership.

The law was approved by Abbas himself, without review by the Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The PLC has been paralyzed for the past decade, as a result of the power struggle between Abbas’s PA and Hamas — the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

In the absence of parliamentary life, Abbas and his senior officials and advisors have felt free to pass their own laws to serve their interests and promote their personal and political agendas.”

5) At Mosaic magazine, Liam Hoare and David Hirsh briefly discuss “How the UK’s Labor Party, and Its Intelligentsia, Came to Accept Anti-Semitism“.

“[Y]ou can be sure that Labor would not have allowed somebody to become its leader with a history of anti-black or misogynist politics, for example. . . . The Labor party is not yet institutionally anti-Semitic, but people [in the party] don’t want to hear about [anti-Semitism]. What Corbyn has done is he has allowed the whole thing to be treated as if it’s just a few bad apples in the barrel, and if you find the bad apple, just kick it out, when you should ask what it is about the barrel that makes the apples go bad.” 

 

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Weekend long read

1) At ‘The Long War Journal’ Thomas Joscelyn takes a look at two recent US investigations concerning Hizballah. The article is particularly interesting for those who recall BBC reporting on related topics – see for example here, here and here.

“On June 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made an announcement that deserves more attention. Two alleged Hizballah operatives had been arrested inside the United States after carrying out various missions on behalf of the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization. The plots took the men around the globe, from Thailand to Panama and even into the heart of New York City.

Both men are naturalized U.S. citizens. And they are both accused of performing surveillance on prospective targets for Hizballah’s highly secretive external operations wing, known as the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO). […]

Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization first gained infamy in the 1980s, when it orchestrated various attacks on Americans and Europeans in Lebanon and elsewhere. In some ways, the IJO could be credited with launching the modern jihadist war against the U.S., pioneering the use of near-simultaneous suicide bombings. Such tactics would later be adopted by Sunni jihadists, including al Qaeda, with devastating effects.”

2) At the Algemeiner, Ben Cohen takes a look at the ‘Shia Corridor’.

“If you haven’t encountered the term “Shia corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the US and Iran in Syria intensifies. […]

Iran’s goal to become the dominant power in the Islamic world involves more than religious or ideological influence. It requires the boots of Iran and its proxies on the ground — as demonstrated already in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It requires that Iran has easy, uninterrupted access to all those parts of the region where it exercises political control.”

3) At the Fathom Journal, Dave Rich has an article titled “Islamic State and Islamist politics in the UK: why ‘not in my name’ is not enough”.

“It is true that there are many and varied reasons why western Muslims have volunteered to join IS. Family and friendship networks play a role, as does a desire for identity, belonging and adventure. Grievances large and small, real and imagined, can also motivate recruits. However, none of these factors, alone or combined, can answer one simple question: if IS ‘has nothing to do with Islam’, as John Kerry remarked after Paris, why is it only Muslims who join?”

4) At Ynet, Ben Dror Yemini discusses EU funding for demonisation of Israel.

“About a year ago, the Ramallah-based Popular Art Center staged a musical performance for “the Palestinian martyrs,” titled “No to laying down guns.” There is nothing new here. This is the “education to peace” that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared in his meeting with US President Donald Trump. Abbas declared, and the European Union is paying in funding for the center. The more interesting thing is that the grant was given as part of a special project for “increasing Palestinian public awareness of EU core values.” […]

Furthermore, dozens of Palestinians NGOs which support the BDS movement have the support of European countries, the European Union and other foundations. Do European taxpayers know that their money is funding anti-Semitic incitement and encouragement of terrorism? Probably not. But the EU knows. A parliamentary question on the issue was submitted at the European Parliament, and the NGO Monitor organization sent a letter to the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, specifying the activities the EU funds were used for. The Delegation of the European Union to Israel said in response that the EU was against incitement and anti-Semitism, and that funding was only provided for the goals defined in the projects.”

5) David Hirch has made a film about a topic the BBC has consistently failed to report accurately: antisemitism in the UK Labour Party.

 

Weekend long read

1) The Fathom journal carries a useful essay by Paul Bogdanor.

“In this meticulous rebuttal of the former Mayor of London’s charge that ‘you had right up until the start of the second world war real collaboration [between Nazis and Zionists]’, Paul Bogdanor, author of Kasztner’s Crime, points to Ken Livingstone’s ‘mutilations of the historical record and of the very sources he cites’ and the politically reactionary character of Livingstone’s version of history which ‘equates persecutors and rescuers, aggressors and victims, the powerful and the powerless, oppressors and the oppressed.’”

2) The COGAT website has a backgrounder on the subject of payments to terrorists by the Palestinian National Fund(PNF) – a topic serially avoided by BBC journalists.

“The Palestine National Fund, whose sources of income and expenses are partially known, has become the primary funder of the Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs since 2014. The PNF began its funding of the commission after criticism was raised to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by key players in the international community regarding the activity of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. The international community’s claim was that the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs should not allocate money from its budget to fund the welfare of terror operatives, as a reward for carrying out security offenses and at the expense of all Palestinians.  

Following pressure from the international community, the Palestinian Authority decided to subordinate the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs to the PNF and changed its name to the Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs. It is clear that this new commission is similar to the ministry—in terms of managers, offices and even contains a nearly identical budget that stands at close to half a billion NIS per year. This new commission is a similar replica of the ministry, but with a new name.”

3) The BBC’s recent copious coverage of the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners organised by Marwan Barghouti informed audiences that the strikers are protesting “detention conditions” and “conditions in Israeli jails” without clarifying what those conditions are. COGAT also has a backgrounder on that topic.

“As of March 2017, there are 6,100 security prisoners in Israeli jails, most of them between the ages of 18 and 25. According to the definition, security prisoners in Israel are those convicted of an offense that involves harm to the State of Israel or a nationalistic motive. Over 2,000 are serving their sentences for being directly responsible for the murder of Israelis.  […]

Security prisoners in Israel are entitled to a number of  basic rights, as well as receiving additional benefits. Under the basic conditions, inmates are entitled to meet with an attorney (within a professional framework), receive medical treatment, religious rights, basic living conditions (such as hot water, showers and sanitation), proper ventilation and electric infrastructure. They also receive regular visits from the Red Cross and education as well.  

Apart from these basic conditions, security prisoners in Israel’s are entitled to receive newspapers, send and receive letters and read and keep their own books. Prisoners are even permitted to buy goods from the prison’s canteen, which is run by the inmates themselves. If that is not enough, relatives of prisoners can deposit money for them at the post office’s bank. As a part of the living conditions, prisoners receive family visitations, television watching hours and even electrical appliances, such as kettles and mosquito killers.”

4) With the BBC not infrequently providing amplification for the apartheid smear against Israel, an interview with the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation to Israel and the PA published by Ynet is of interest.

“The Red Cross was very familiar with the regime that prevailed in South Africa during the apartheid period, and we are responding to all those who raise their claim of apartheid against Israel: No, there is no apartheid here, no regime of superiority of race, of denial of basic human rights to a group of people because of their alleged racial inferiority. There is a bloody national conflict, whose most prominent and tragic characteristic is its continuation over the years, decades-long, and there is a state of occupation. Not apartheid.”

BBC News reports new UK definition of antisemitism – without the definition

Together with many other media outlets, on the morning of December 12th the BBC News website’s UK page reported the landmark decision of the British government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which was compiled earlier this year.  

The BBC’s report – titled “Anti-Semitism: Official definition ‘will fight hatred’” – opens:antisemitism-def-art-main

“The government plans to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism to help tackle hatred towards Jews.

Police, councils, universities and public bodies can adopt the wording, Theresa May will say in a speech later.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which the UK belongs to, created the definition.

It calls anti-Semitism a “perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.””

Just two paragraphs later some of that information is repeated:

“The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance hopes its definition, agreed this year, will be adopted globally.

It defines anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”

It adds: “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.””

Later on readers are informed that:

“Conservative MP and special envoy for post-holocaust issues, Sir Eric Pickles, told the BBC that the new definition “catches up with modern anti-Semitism”.

“I think it’s important not to conflate Jewish people with Israel,” he said. “That actually is the point in the definition.””

However, nowhere in this report are BBC audiences provided with a link to the IHRA definition of antisemitism which is its subject matter. The BBC’s funding public therefore remains unaware that it includes clauses relating to Israel, including one recently brought up on these pages.

Notably, the last four paragraphs of the BBC’s report relate to the UK Labour party and while failing to inform readers of criticism of the Chakrabarti Report – including its refusal to provide a definition of antisemitism – the BBC did insert a link to a previous BBC report which amplifies the Livingstone Formulation.

“Labour, which has faced accusations that it has failed to tackle anti-Semitism in its own membership, welcomed the move.

A spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said hatred towards Jews was “as repugnant and unacceptable as any other form of racism”.

Earlier this year Baroness Chakrabarti, the former director of civil liberties group Liberty, chaired an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the party.

It found the party was not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism, but there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”.”antisemitism-def-art-pic-2

Remarkably too – although it is not infrequently the case in BBC content – both the images chosen to illustrate this article portray members of a stream which is a minority within the British Jewish community.

Update:

Some fourteen hours after its initial publication, a link to the IHRA definition has now been added to the BBC’s report. 

Related Articles:

IHRA adopts working definition of antisemitism: when will the BBC?

The BBC must tell its audiences how it defines antisemitism

The BBC and the need for a definition of antisemitism

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

Weekend long read

1) Writing at Newsweek, David Daoud discusses the new Lebanese presidency.

“…the day after Aoun took office, his Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) stressed that Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah is their “partner in victory.” The Party of God virtually imposed Aoun as the country’s next leader by boycotting elections unless Aoun ran unopposed and was guaranteed victory. For two years, Hezbollah held Lebanon’s politics hostage until Hariri, its chief political opponent, caved and endorsed Aoun on October 20, ushering him into the presidency.

Lebanon’s National Pact, the multi-confessional country’s unwritten power-sharing agreement, requires the president to be a Maronite Christian, with a Sunni prime minister, and Shiite speaker of parliament. The 1989 Taif Accords —which ended Lebanon’s civil war— limited the president ’s traditional constitutional powers, but Aoun will still have the capability to continue Lebanon’s national and foreign policy tilt toward Hezbollah. In fact, he has already done much to empower the Shiite group.

In 2006, Aoun signed a Memorandum of Understanding which cemented his party’s alliance with Hezbollah, granting it outside political influence. In it, he recognized the group’s right to retain its arms, in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.”

2) Senior Law Lecturer Lesley Klaff explains “Why all Labour members need to read parliament’s antisemitism report“.Weekend Read

“The committee has clearly grasped something that eluded Chakrabarti. It has realised that in order to investigate allegations of antisemitism, you first need to define what you mean by the term.

The Chakrabarti report refused to provide a definition of antisemitism. It even said there was “no need to pursue an age-old and ultimately fruitless debate about the precise parameters of race hate”. This is incredibly short sighted.”

3) As reported by the Times of Israel and other outlets (not including the BBC), the IDF’s emergency field hospital unit recently gained unprecedented recognition form the World Health Organisation.

“The United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli army’s field hospital, which is regularly sent abroad to provide aid at natural disaster sites, as “the number one in the world” in a ceremony last week, classifying it as its first and only “Type 3” field hospital, according to its commander, Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin. […]

In 2013, the United Nation’s WHO created a set of criteria to classify foreign medical teams in sudden onset disasters, on a scale from one to three. Israel is now the only country to receive the top mark. […]

Israeli disaster relief delegations — some of them led by Merin — have been some of the first and largest to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters. Teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

This Type 3 classification ensures that Israeli teams will continue to be the first allowed on the scene of future disasters…”

UKMW Interview with Dave Rich

Our sister site UK Media Watch has a very interesting interview with the CST’s Dave Rich – author of the new and very timely book ‘The Left’s Jewish Problem’.dave-rich

UKMW:  In the first chapter of your book, ‘When the Left Stopped Loving Israel’, you argued that the rise of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism as the defining ideologies of the radical left influenced activists to see the Israeli-Arab conflict through a different lens. Is it a fair reading of this chapter to say that, contrary to most theories, this left-wing intellectual tide began to turn before the Six Day War – that is, before Israel occupied one square centimeter of land?

Dave Rich: Yes, this is correct, although – and this is the key point – the radical left argument was, and remains, that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land began in 1948 (or before), and 1967 was just an extension of that earlier ‘crime’. The Six Day War saw an outburst of anti-Zionism on the radical Left in several countries, but the political ideas fuelling that outburst were already visible in the decade prior to that war. In Britain, anti-colonialism had become a prominent liberal and left-wing cause during the 1950s as colonies gained independence, and the Suez Crisis exposed the shabby duplicity required to maintain Britain’s imperial interests. The idea that Israel was a legacy of Western colonialism, rather than a rejection of it as many leftists had believed in 1948, was increasingly heard in radical left-wing politics in the early 1960s. So when the Six Day War occurred it was, as one contemporary observer wrote, “the perfect example of the key event as orchestrator of a symphony which was ready to be played.” The war gave focus and energy to ideas that already existed: this is why the radical left-wing response in the years following 1967 was not limited to analysing that war and its consequences, but instead critiqued the circumstances of Israel’s creation and the ideology of Zionism itself. People began to see Israel as a settler state, comparable to South Africa and Rhodesia – all three of which were former British colonies, so the theory had particular purchase in Britain.

Read the whole interview here.

Related Articles:

Weekend long read

Weekend long read

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) At the Jewish News, Dave Rich comments on the UK Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee report on antisemitism which was published earlier this month.Weekend Read

“However, it would be a grave error to be complacent, and the report points out exactly why. Some police forces still do not appear to record anti-Semitic hate crime properly. The amount of hate and abuse on social media is enormous and nobody – not the social media companies themselves, nor the police or CPS – has yet found a solution to it.

The National Union of Students comes in for particular criticism, and rightly so: Jewish students need to be allowed to lead the campaign against anti-Semitism on campus, rather than being preached to about what is, and isn’t, anti-Semitic.”

2) Ben Cohen brings us another review of Dave Rich’s very timely new book titled “The Left’s Jewish Problem” at the Tower.

“Rich makes a persuasive case that the Young Liberal model of anti-Zionism—in essence, uncritical support of Palestinian discourse and political and military actions—enjoyed an impact on British views on the Palestinian question that continues today. It certainly exercised a greater appeal upon activists like Ghada Karmi, as well as the parliamentarians who took up the Palestinian cause in growing numbers during the 1970s. As Rich says,

‘In the 1970s, groups like Palestine Action, the Palestine Solidarity campaign and the Free Palestine newspaper helped to establish the notion that Fatah and other Palestinian factions had the right to use violence, although they sometimes differed over the precise tactics used. Since then, attitudes ranging from sympathy for the motivations of terrorists to outright justification for their actions have spread beyond the radical left to become commonplace in mainstream left-wing and liberal thought.’

However, while this model of anti-Zionism studiously avoided Marxist critiques of the PLO and the Arab regimes as well as the possibilities for revolution within Israel, it did drift into discussions that were arguably more bizarre and certainly more disturbing than the notion of a socialist federation of Arab and Israeli workers. This is where Rich’s second decisive contribution comes to fore, in his discussion of the British Left’s attitude towards the Holocaust.”

Read the whole review here.

3) Writing at the Guardian, Howard Jacobson also discusses the implications of the Home Affairs Select Committee report.

“The mantra bedevilling reasonable conversation about Israel is that the Jews have only one motive in labelling anti-Zionism antisemitic and that is to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel. This assertion defames Jews, the majority of whom, in my experience, take issue not with the idea of legitimate criticism, but with what in any given instance “legitimacy” amounts to. Criticism is not an inviolable concept. It can be moderate or extreme, truthful or mendacious, well-intentioned or malign. To complain when it is unjust is not to shut down debate. It cannot be exorbitant to argue that what will determine whether criticism of Israel is antisemitic is the nature of the criticism.

The effect of a libel is to exhaust trust. It should not be automatically assumed that, when it comes to Israel, Jews are incapable of arguing honestly, an assumption that itself edges dangerously close to the racism that is being denied. We need to separate this from that. No, “legitimate” (that is to say fair and honest) criticism of Israel as a nation among nations does not amount to antisemitism. Anti-Zionism, on the other hand – the repudiation of Israel’s right to exist – almost invariably does.”

4) Also in relation to the Home Affairs Select Committee report, at the Huffington Post, Elliot Miller argues that “When It Comes To Antisemitism, The NUS Just Doesn’t Get It“.

“Unsurprisingly, the HASC report’s section on campus antisemitism refers to the well-known comments of NUS President Malia Bouattia, in which she described the University of Birmingham as a “Zionist Outpost.” The committee’s MPs have concluded that such behaviour – among many other incidents – smacks of outright racism. This is not to mention the scathing conclusion that Bouatia appeared not to have taken campus antisemitism “sufficiently seriously.” […]

While the report has admirably tried to draw attention to a generally ignored issue, the response to it among the student movement has not been encouraging. One open letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee in support of Malia Bouattia – signed by over 150 student leaders – encapsulates the problem of antisemitism among the student left.” 

BBC article on antisemitism report recycles problematic backgrounder

Following the publication of the UK Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee report on antisemitism on October 16th, a relatively long article appeared on the UK politics page of the BBC News website under the headline “Jeremy Corbyn’s response to anti-Semitism in Labour criticised by MPs“.ha-select-comm-report-art

20.9% of the article’s 1,007 words are describe the report’s criticism of the response to antisemitism within the Labour Party while reactions to that criticism from Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone take up 14.3% of the word count.  The committee’s criticism of the failure of Twitter to combat antisemitism on its platform is described in 7.5% of the article’s word count and 4.5% describes the report’s criticism of the National Union of Students president.

Towards the end of the article, readers are given a superficial account of two aspects of the report.

“The report expressed concern about use of the word “Zionist”, saying “use of the word in an accusatory context should be considered inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic”.”

In its conclusions the actual report states:

“‘Zionism’ as a concept remains a valid topic for academic and political debate, both within and outside Israel. The word ‘Zionist’ (or worse, ‘Zio’) as a term of abuse, however, has no place in a civilised society. It has been tarnished by its repeated use in antisemitic and aggressive contexts. Antisemites frequently use the word ‘Zionist’ when they are in fact referring to Jews, whether in Israel or elsewhere. Those claiming to be “anti-Zionist, not antisemitic”, should do so in the knowledge that 59% of British Jewish people consider themselves to be Zionists. If these individuals genuinely mean only to criticise the policies of the Government of Israel, and have no intention to offend British Jewish people, they should criticise “the Israeli Government”, and not “Zionists”. For the purposes of criminal or disciplinary investigations, use of the words ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zio’ in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially antisemitic. This should be communicated by the Government and political parties to those responsible for determining whether or not an incident should be regarded as antisemitic.”

The BBC article also tells readers:

“But it [the report] did say free speech should be allowed on the Palestinian issue, saying it was not anti-Semitic to criticise actions of the Israeli government.”

However that is just part of the story – as Professor Alan Johnson notes at the Telegraph:

“The Committee is very clear about two things. First, criticism of Israel is absolutely acceptable. Second, vile demonisation and conspiracism, with its cartoons dripping in blood and its hook noses and its wild claims of global domination and its Nazi comparisons is not “criticism of Israel”.”

The report itself states:

ha-select-comm-report-crtiticism-israel

Crucially, the IHRA definition of antisemitism recommended by the committee (which was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s 31 member countries earlier this year) includes the following example of a manifestation of antisemitism often prevalent among those active “on the Palestinian issue”:

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”ha-select-comm-art-related-reading

This BBC article twice offers readers the same ‘related article’ titled “What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?”.

As was noted here when that ‘backgrounder’ first appeared, its problematic aspects (which, regrettably, have not been addressed since publication) include promotion of the Livingstone Formulation.

We have in the past noted here the need for the BBC to work according to a recognised definition of antisemitism in order to prevent the appearance of antisemitic discourse in its own content as well as on its comments boards and social media chatrooms and such a proposal was included in BBC Watch’s submission to the DCMS public consultation on the renewal of the BBC’s charter.

In light of the Home Affairs Select Committee recommendation, it would of course be appropriate for the BBC and OFCOM to now adopt the IHRC working definition of antisemitism.

 

BBC current affairs revisits antisemitism and anti-Zionism – part one

Readers may recall that earlier this year, as antisemitism scandals plagued the UK Labour Party, the BBC produced a distinctly unhelpful backgrounder titled “What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?“. At the time we noted that:antizionism art

“One might of course argue that the BBC’s public purpose remit – which includes “sustaining citizenship and civil society” and “promoting education and learning” – should have gone some way towards both preventing the appearance of antisemitic discourse in its own content and helping raise the British public’s awareness of antisemitism, thereby ensuring that ideologies such as those which have brought the Labour party into disrepute of late would be relegated to the status they deserve rather than becoming so commonplace within a mainstream British political party.”

With those scandals showing no sign of subsiding, earlier this month the BBC revisted the topic in two separate interviews. Given that discussion of antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Britain quite frequently boils down to non-Jews telling Jews what antisemitism is (or more often – what it is not), it was refreshing to see BBC audiences provided with a chance to hear Jewish Israeli voices.

The September 7th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme included an interview (from 02:44:10 here) with Professor Yehuda Bauer which was introduced as follows by presenter – and former BBC political editor – Nick Robinson. [all emphasis in bold added]

NR: “When does criticism of Israel amount to antisemitism? – if it ever does. That’s the question that’s been asked ever since Ken Livingstone – a regular and robust critic of the State of Israel – was suspended from the party for claiming that Hitler had supported Zionism before he went mad. Zionism, of course: the movement which led to the creation of a national home for the Jewish people. This week Mr Livingstone quoted a pamphlet from the Holocaust Memorial in Israel – Yad Vashem – in his defence.”

The “question” of course precedes Livingstone’s original remarks but those unfamiliar with that latter story can find more details here. Robinson continued:

“Well Yehudi [sic] Bauer is in London at the moment. He’s chair of the Yad Vashem Institute and professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Good morning to you Professor. […] Let’s begin with Ken Livingstone’s words if we can and then we’ll widen our discussion. He says – Mr Livingstone – if you go to the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem in Israel, one of the pamphlets they sell to tourists there is one that talks about the deal done between Hitler and the Zionists in the 1930s, so it must be true, he says.

Yehuda Bauer replied:

“Well, I don’t want to relate to the person who said it but to the content of the things. You see what happened was that when the Nazis got to power the idea was to expel or deport or in some ways get rid of all the Jews in Germany – not only deny them citizenship but actually expel them. So they should go anywhere possible. And that was supported by the Nazi party. The Zionist movement at that time wanted to rescue the Jews of Germany and wanted to get as many out of there as possible. So a deal was struck in August 1933 – which lasted for about five and a half years – to export goods from Germany with the people who bought them in Germany, to Palestine. This is part of an effort of German Jews to leave Germany because of the policies of the Nazi government. “

Robinson: “But if Hitler, as it were, and other Nazis wanted Jews to move to what was going to become Israel, is it right to then say ‘ah well, he was supporting Zionism’?”

Bauer: “No he wasn’t. In fact the Nazi foreign office – as anyone who has studied the material knows – opposed Zionism radically. When the British government supported a partition of Palestine between Arab and Jewish states in 1937, 38, 39, all German diplomats in the world got instructions to oppose any kind of Jewish state in Palestine. There was a contradiction in the policies of the Nazis. On the one hand they wanted to get rid of all the Jews and on the other hand, to one of the major places where they could go at the time, they opposed the establishment of a Jewish state.”

Robinson: “OK.”

Bauer: “In other words, they were violently anti-Zionist but to get rid of the Jews was the priority…”

Robinson [interrupts] “OK but that…”

Bauer: “For Jews this was an essential way in order to rescue people from Germany.”

Listeners then heard the following post-factual framing of Bauer’s explanation:today-7-9-bauer

Robinson:  “That’s the history, as it were, and historians can debate it and discuss…”

Bauer: “No, no – that’s a fact.”

Robinson: “OK, understood. But why I was putting it that way is I wanted to take you one stage further and then say if people challenge those facts – as you call them – does that then make them antisemitic – or in effect racist – rather than people who just don’t understand the history properly?”

Bauer: “Well you see criticism of any Israeli government’s policies is certainly not antisemitism. If I criticise any kind of British government – for instance during the Thatcher period – that doesn’t make me an anti-British person.”

Robinson: “So when does it become antisemitism?”

Bauer: “It becomes antisemitism the moment people say ‘well 1948 – the establishment of a Jewish state – was a mistake’. Mistakes have to be corrected and the only way to correct that so-called mistake would be to annihilate Israel – which means actually that the people who advocate such views are on the verge of being genocidal – intentionally or unintentionally – genocidal propagandists.”

Robinson: “But isn’t it possible for me – or anybody else – to argue that I do think it was a mistake to create the State of Israel but I might have no intention at all of wiping it off the map or indeed persecuting the Jewish people?”

Bauer: “No; if you oppose the policies of the present or any past or future Israeli government – whether that’s towards the Palestinians or anything else – that’s certainly not antisemitism. Antisemitism begins the moment you say the Jews have no right to have a separate political existence as a people.”

Robinson: “Yehudi [sic] Bauer; your talk is tonight in London. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.”

It is of course impossible to determine whether or not that interview succeeded in fulfilling its apparent purpose of helping BBC Radio 4 audiences to understand the inaccuracy of Ken Livingstone’s claims but certainly that purpose was not helped by Nick Robinson’s introduction of post-factual framing.

Nevertheless, it is very rare for BBC audiences to hear a clear and concise explanation of why some forms of anti-Zionism are expressions of antisemitism and surprisingly – as we will see in part two of this post – they heard another such explanation just a week later.

Related articles:

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

 

Weekend long read

 

1) At Engage, Sarah Brown reviews a new book titled “The Left’s Jewish Problem” by the CST’s Dave Rich.Weekend Read

“Many of today’s familiar anti-Israel tropes began to circulate in the late 1950s and 1960s. The PLO compared Zionism to Nazism and the Algerian National Liberation Front blamed Israel’s creation on the monopoly of finance and media held by ‘magnate Jews’. Rich explains in detail how another trope – the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa – gained so much traction. Surprisingly, the Young Liberals play a major part in this story. The relationship between this group and the wider Liberal Party was bizarrely disjunctive in the 1960s. Their vice-chairman Bernard Greaves, for example, ‘dismiss[ed] Parliament as a hindrance to “the revolutionary transformation of society”’.

Some members flirted with Communism and others engaged in violent direct action as part of their campaign against apartheid. Among the key players was Peter Hellyer, Vice-Chairman of the Young Liberals. Through his campaigning he made connections with Palestinian and other Arab activists and this political environment exposed him to Soviet and Egyptian anti-Zionist – and antisemitic – propaganda. As Rich explains, the Soviet Union was a particularly important vector for anti-Zionist discourse. Examining these 1960s networks, and the way ideas circulated within them (rather like tracing the transmission of a virus) helps explain not just the preoccupations of today’s left but the precise arguments and images they instinctively reach for.”

2) Nick Cohen’s review of the same book can be found here.

“Anti-fascism died when Islamist utopianism annihilated socialist utopianism. At a pro-Palestinian rally in the 20th century, you would hear dreams of a future where the Arab and Jewish working classes would unite in a common homeland. By contrast, at a pro-Palestinian rally led by Corbyn in 2002, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood handed out newspapers instructing marchers that man was on Earth to serve God, and Muslims and non-Muslims could not be treated equally in an Islamic state. All of a sudden, and without anything resembling a debate, the loudest voices in the British and world left were on the side of men whose prejudices, not only against Jews, but against women, homosexuals, secular societies, and human rights, combined the worst theology of the seventh century with the worst ideology of the 20th.”

3) Not unrelatedly, Jamie Palmer examines the question of “Why Doesn’t the Western Left Listen to Palestinians?”.

“The Holocaust, the Six Day War, and the PLO terror campaign of the 1970s are receding in living memory. Subsequent generations grew up watching television news reports of Israeli tanks pounding Beirut in the early 80s and stone-throwers confronting armed soldiers during the first intifada. The Left has tended to understand these images and events using an anti-imperialist and post-colonial lens that ennobles victimhood and romanticizes violent struggle.

The upshot has been the infantilization of a people whose suffering is perceived to be somehow apolitical. What Palestinians do or say is simply an expression of enraged frustration and an inevitable consequence of oppression. If Palestinian public figures incite the murder of Jews in unequivocal terms, it is to be expected, if not exactly justified. If Palestinian politics and society are dysfunctional, it is because they are laboring under occupation. If Palestinians denounce the peace process, it is because they are tired of Israeli intransigence.

It is seldom allowed that Palestinians are thinking, speaking, and acting of their own volition or in pursuit of a counter-productive and racist agenda, which does not align with the Left’s expectations and assumptions. Behind the Left’s generalities, the specifics of what this-or-that Palestinian official, newspaper, or terrorist said are therefore irrelevant. Israel is the occupying power, ergo only Israel and Israelis are capable of moral responsibility and deserving of censure.”

4) Professor Eugene Kontorovich has published a new paper titled “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories”.

“…international law scholars, like lawyers generally, do not try to tease legal rules out of one particular case, but try to discern the pattern in the entire set of cases. Making law from one case risks serious error.

Yet that is exactly what happens with Art. 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the provision that, loosely speaking, restricts settlements in occupied territory. The provision itself is quite obscure and has never been applied in any war crimes case. Thus, looking at state practice would be particularly useful to understand the scope of its meaning.

Yet scholars and humanitarian groups have only sought to understand its meaning through the lens of one case, that of Israel. If there were no other situations to look at, this would be understandable. But, as I show in my new research paper, settlement activity is fairly ubiquitous in occupations of contiguous territory. Yet state practice in these other situations has not been used to inform an understanding of the meaning of Art. 49(6).”

A link to the paper can be found here