Archive for the ‘Antisemitism’ Category

Rewriting the Lexicon

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

This piece, by the Rt Hon Dr Dennis Macshane, was first published in the Jewish Chronicle on 02/06/11

Usually it is the right which gets cross whenever the EU appears to be telling Britain what to do. Now it is the impeccably left-wing university teachers’ union, UCU, that is shaking its fist at the EU in a spasm of angry rejection of a European initiative. In a move that needs a Swift or an Orwell to do full justice to its cant, the UCU annual congress has endorsed a call to repudiate the European Union’s widely accepted definition of antisemitism.

It is now the widely-accepted global benchmark for the tricky task of defining modern Jew-hate.

The definition declares, reasonably it might be thought, that “justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of an extremist view of religion” or “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” or “allegations of Jews controlling the media ” (a favourite BNP trope) or “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nation” are all example of antisemitic discourse.

At first sight this is beyond parody as the trade union of professors sets itself up as a lexicographers’ committee to re-write a dictionary definition it does not like.

The UCU assault on a widely accepted and useful definition of antisemitism which accepts criticism of Israel, is both foolish and indeed morally repugnant. Denial of a definition of antisemitism is not the biggest challenge facing Jews today. But it shows how language and discourse are changing, as once again Jews become targets for political contempt and dislike.

Denis MacShane MP chaired the House of Commons inquiry into antisemitism and is author of “Globalising Hatred. The New Anti-Semitism” (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

‘Kauft nicht bei Juden’ will worsen the conflict

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
This piece, by the Rt Hon Dr Dennis Macshane MP, was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 29/11/2010

Kauft nicht bei Juden – “Don’t buy from Jews” – is back. The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe’s oldest political appeal. Once again, as the tsunami of hate against Israel rolls out from the Right and the Left, from Islamist ideologues to Europe’s cultural elites, the demand is to punish the Jews. That the actions of the Israeli government are open to criticism is a fact. But what are the real arguments?

Firstly, that Israel is wrong to defy international law as an occupying force on the West Bank. But what about Turkey? It has 35,000 soldiers occupying the territory of a sovereign republic – Cyprus. Ankara has sent hundreds of thousands of settlers to colonize the ancient Greekowned lands of northern Cyprus. Turkey has been told again and again by the UN to withdraw its troops. Instead, it now also stands accused of destroying the ancient Christian churches of northern Cyprus.

Does anyone call for a boycott of Turkey, or urge companies to divest from it? No. Only the Jews are targeted.

Or take India; 500,000 Indian soldiers occupy Kashmir. According to Amnesty International, 70,000 Muslims have been killed over the past 20 years by these soldiers and security forces – a number that far exceeds the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the same period. But the Islamic ideologues focus on Jews, not Indians.

May we talk of the western Sahara and Morocco, or Algeria’s closure of the border there, making life far worse than that of Palestinians in Ramallah or Hebron? No, better not.

Voltaire – anti-Semite that he was – should be alive today to mock the hypocrisy of the new high priests calling anathema on the heads of Jews in Israel.

Second, the desire for peace in the Middle East is a global priority. But peace requires recognition of the Jewish state of Israel. There are 40 member states of the UN which have the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” in their names. No one challenges their right to exist or defend themselves.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Its reward was to have the territory turned into a new launch pad for rockets intended to kill Jews.

More rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza than V1 or V2 rockets at London in 1944. No one blamed Winston Churchill for responding with all the force he could, as cities like Hamburg or Dresden faced the wrath of the RAF. But if Israel takes the slightest action against the Jew-killers of Hamas, all the hate of the world falls on its head.

Third, it is hard to see how peace can be made with an Israel that so many seek to brand an “apartheid state.”

I worked in the 1980s with the black trade union movement inside South Africa. We lay in ditches as the apartheid police patrolled townships hunting for political activists. I could not swim at the same beach as my wife, a French-Vietnamese, because of the racist laws. Muslims and Jews swim off the same Tel Aviv beaches. They can stay in the same hotels, be elected to the same parliament, and appeal to an independent judiciary for justice.

BY DEFINITION, an apartheid state has no right to exist. It cannot be a member of the UN. The campaign to call Israel an apartheid state is a campaign to make it a non-state. How can peace be made with a state whose opponents say should not exist?

In Britain, there are calls by journalists and professors to boycott the Israeli media or universities. But Israeli writers, journalists and professors are the main opponents of the counterproductive policies of their government. To boycott them is to hand even more power to the haredi and Russian nationalists who now control Right-wing politics in Israel.

By any standard, the attacks on media freedom, on women, on gays or on lawyers is 1,000 times worse in Iran or Saudi Arabia. There is no democracy in Syria or Libya, limited democracy in Jordan, and open anti-Semitism displayed by the Muslim Brotherhood movements in the Arab world. Is there any call to boycott these states, their journalists or professors? No. The call – rightly – is for engagement, contacts, debate and discussion. Many even argue for talks with Hamas, although its charter, with its strident anti- Semitic language, could have been written by a Nazi.

But talks with Jewish politicians, lawyers or intellectuals must be boycotted. This policy of making the Jewish citizens of Israel into objects of global hatred will only make the Middle East crisis worse. If it was directed evenly at all states which occupy and oppress territories, it might have some basis in morality. If the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions movement also called for sanctions against the new anti-Semitism of the extreme Right in Europe, it might make sense. The openly anti- Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary parades in its fascist uniforms. Anti-Semitic politicians are elected to the European Parliament. The German politician Thilo Sarrazin can describe Jews as having “different genes” from other people. And now Europeans, of all people, once again cry Kauft nicht bei Juden.

Those who dislike Israeli rightwing policies must find other language than that of classical anti- Semitism. I am not Jewish. As a British MP, I work with thousands of Muslims in my constituency. I am more often in mosques than in churches. I am proud of my Muslim friends who are MPs, peers, municipal councillors or prominent as journaIists, lawyers, doctors and intellectuals. The 20 million European Muslims face new hates which must be combated. But there is no profit for them in joining the hate campaigns against Jews in Israel.

As Europeans we must reject the old language of boycott and economic campaigns against Jews. Israel, Palestine and Europe must all have a 21st century future, and not return to the hates of the past.

The Legacy of Hope: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Resistance, Yesterday and Today

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Cross-posted from David Hirsh at Engage

We have heard a lot about fighting antisemitism a long time ago and far away. I wish to turn to events closer to home.

Antisemitism within the UCU started to become a serious problem when people in the union began to support the campaign to boycott Israeli universities, but no other universities in the world. This campaign has dominated academic union Congresses in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Normally trade unionists aim to make links with other trade unionists across international boundaries. Normally academics make links with other academics in other countries. But in our union Israelis have been treated differently. Instead of seeking to work with Israeli colleagues for peace and against bigotry, the dominant faction in our union has tried again and again to exclude Israelis from our community.

Since 2003 it has become clear that antisemitic ways of thinking and antisemitic practices have been imported into our union alongside this campaign to punish Israeli academics.

September 2006

Report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (p 41):

“We conclude that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are … anti-Jewish in practice.”

18 January 2007

The Union response to the Parliamenary Inquiry was

(1) to conflate the criticism that boycotts were anti Jewish in practice with a charge which was not made, that UCU members hate Jews.

(2) to declare that criticism of Israel is not antisemitic – although the charge was made in relation to the union setting up an institutional exclusion from British campuses on the basis of nationality – and was not made in relation to criticism of Israel.

(3) the union says that those who raise the issue of antisemitism do so in bad faith in order to silence criticism of Israeli human rights abuses. It produces no evidence regarding the bad faith of those who raise the issue.

(4) the union replies to a charge of institutional antisemitism in the union by saying that the inquiry ought to have looked into the issue of Islamophobia instead.

76 members of the UCU signed a letter in the Times Higher taking issue with UCU’s denials in the face of criticism by the parliamentary inquiry. The union did not respond to the disquiet articulated by these members. Silence.

UCU Congress 2007 passed the following clause as union policy:

“…Congress believes that … criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.”

This statement is an irresponsible denial of the possibility of antisemitism since ‘criticism of israel’ is evidently sometimes antisemitic and sometimes not antisemitic.

UCU Congress 2008 passed the following clause as union policy:

“Criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic”

But nobody has ever heard criticism “as such”. They have only ever heard this or that particular criticism of Israel. Some of them are antisemitic and some of them are not. So again, UCU’s mode of denial was irresponsible for an antiracist union.

19 June 2007

Professor Shalom Lappin’s resignation letter to UCU:

“The boycott… attempts to impose a discriminatory sanction on Israeli academics that its advocates do not seek to apply to any other nation, even in situations of conflict where far greater human rights abuses are being committed. …it is a crude effort to delegitimize Israel as a country and express hostility for its people.”

August 2007

Gert Weisskirchen, a veteran German Social Democrat member of the Bundestag, antiracist, and official of the OSCE responsible for combatting antisemitism in Europe asked the UCU for a meeting about antisemitism in the Union. The union leadership could not find half an hour to sit and hear his concerns. Silence. 39 UCU members signed a letter in the Times Higher asking the union to meet with Weisskirchen. The Union did not respond.

September 2007

UCU was advised by its own lawyer, Lord Lester QC, one of the foremost human-rights lawyers in the UK, that making a call to boycott Israeli institutions would run a serious risk of infringing discrimination legislation, and that the call to boycott was considered to be outside the aims and objects of the UCU.

13 May 2008

“Stop the Boycott” published the legal opinion given to it by Michael J Beloff QC and Pushpinder Saini QC. Neither are glove puppets of “the Jews” or of “the Zionists” or any such thing. Both are senior QCs, specialists in employment and discrimination law, with reputations to safeguard.

1 “…It would be unlawful for the union to pass” a boycott motion at Congress.

The motion purports to be less than a boycott motion but is in fact a boycott motion.

The motion discriminates against Israelis on the basis of nationality and it discriminates against Jews in a number of indirect ways.

2 The motion is “ultra vires” because it is a breach of the union’s own fundamental and foundational commitment to equality.

The motion is therefore unlawful partly because it violates, in a profound way and not in a purely formal or technical way, UCU’s own law and its own core values. This problem cannot be addressed by fiddling with the wording of the union’s Aims and Objects. It could only be addressed by changing the commitment to equality which is at the heart of the UCU.

3 The motion would be a breach of the Race Relations Act because it would impose on Israeli academics (and potentially Jewish academics) the duty to explain their politics as a pre-condition to having normal academic contact.

4 Debating a motion of this kind is a further breach of the Race Relations Act because such a debate creates an environment which normalizes antisemitic rhetoric and which would create a hostile environment to Jewish and Israeli members and non-members of the union.

May 24 2008

Dov Stekel, Letter to Sally Hunt, General Secretary of UCU:

“…this is the only organization with which I have been involved in which I have been made to feel uncomfortable as a Jew… Repeated calls for boycott of Israeli institutions, the circulation of vitriolic, offensive and untrue allegations, the fact that Jewish members have either been excluded or bullied out of the activists list, have led to a culture in UCU that I have to describe as institutionally anti-semitic. …I am sure that the individuals involved do not themselves mean to be anti-semitic; but the net effect of these actions is to create a culture in the trade union in which Jews and Israelis feel alienated or excluded.”

May 30 2008

Robert Fine, Warwick University UCU:

“…Now for the third time our own union has chosen to go down the road of considering ‘the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions’. The tones are mellow but they give me a shiver and make me feel my Jewishness in a new way.”

3 June 2008

Deborah Lynn Steinberg, UCU member, University of Warwick wrote:

“It is an infringement of my rights as a member to be co-opted into action that violates anti-discrimination policies and law and that compromises the mission of the Union…”

8 June 2008

Stephen Soskin President Buckinghamshire New University UCU, High Wycombe Branch:

“The lesson we have to draw from this Congress is that the majority of delegates and the leadership of UCU wish to pursue their biased policy against Israel, some of which is in my view racist and anti Semitic, with as little discussion as possible and with the widest possible anonymity. None of us should allow this to happen and we must continue to speak out, however uncomfortable this is.”

23 June 2008

Leslie Klaff, a lawyer from Sheffield Hallam University resigns from union:

“The UCU’s adoption of Motion 25 at Congress on May 28th 2008, and the NEC’s subsequent decision of June 13th to refer the question of its implementation to a Union committee, notwithstanding specialist legal advice that it breaches anti-discrimination legislation and Union rules, is further evidence of the UCU’s continuing and relentless obsession with the academic boycott of Israel…”

1 July 2008

Eve Garrard’s resignation letter from UCU:

“The discussion of the boycott project on the UCU activists’ list … There has been a constant deployment of some of the most traditional stereotypes of anti-Semitism, thinly concealed under the figleaf of anti-Zionism. Repeated (and demonstrably false) claims have been made that Israel is committing genocide, and is comparable to the Nazis. Those who have not shared the dominant hostility to Israel have been compared to members of an alien species. It has been explicitly asserted by Union activists that those members who resist this demonising of the Jewish state, and who are concerned about the double standards being deployed in the boycott project, are manipulatively trying to distract others from Israel’s crimes, and are indeed part of a conspiracy to do so. The Union has failed to protect its Jewish members from this constant vilifying of Jewish self-determination. Formal complaints about the creation of an atmosphere hostile to many Jews have been dismissed by the Union as groundless. Even more worryingly, complaints which have been made about the possibility of institutional anti-Semitism have not even been addressed by the Union. Silence.

The UCU’s obsessional determination to ostracise and punish Israel, and its persistent indifference to the concerns and fears of its Jewish members, have created an atmosphere within the Union which is hostile …. I, like many others, can no longer bear the shame and embarrassment of belonging to an institution which is willing to discriminate against Jews, and whose readiness to do so is supported by leading members of its Executive Committee. …This Union is no longer a fit place for those who think that Jews have the same rights of self-determination, self-defence, and national identity as other peoples do, and I hereby resign from it.

7 July 2008

Norman Geras, Political Philosopher, career-long AUT member:

“To be a Jew in UCU today is to be, in some sort, a supplicant, pleading with the would-be boycotters and those unmoved to oppose them …, pleading for Israeli academics to be accepted as having the same status as other academics …, pleading that Jewish supporters of the rights of academics in the Jewish state should not be made to feel isolated in their own union… . Well, not to put too fine a point on it, shove that. Not today, not tomorrow, and not any time.”

21 August 2008

UCU activist Jenna Delich posted a link to a piece of antisemitic conspiracy theory from the website of David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan. Mike Cushman, one of the leaders within out union of the campaign to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic community, recommended Delich to take legal action against a website in order to keep this story out of the public domain.

October 2008

Physicist Raphaël Lévy resigns from UCU

The union has accepted without being moved the resignation of Jewish and antiracists union members, including philosopher Eve Garrard, philosopher Tim Crane, lawyer Eric Heinze, Professor of English Sarah Annes Brown, and Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies & Judaism Jonathan Campbell. The union has excluded sociologist David Hirsh permanently from the UCU e-list. … I have considered the ethical implications of remaining a UCU member and I thereby resign.

20 February 2009

Mike Cushman posts an article on a public website which lists the number of Jewish people in parliament in order to construct an argument about how Tony Blair required Jewish “Zionist” money to run the New Labour project after he had cut Labour’s reliance on trade union funding.

May 27 2009

BRICUP, the British organisation behind the boycott of Israeli academics, held a fringe meeting at UCU Congress in 2009.

One question came from Sean Wallis, UCL UCU branch secretary. He wanted to speak about how UCU should debate a boycott, whether it’s legal or not. One of the threats he mentioned was from lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.” Sean Wallis never explained what he thought was the connection between anti boycott lawyers in Britain and allegedly stolen money from Lehman Brothers in New York.

December 2009

The Human Rights Commission is a national institution of post apartheid South Africa. It ruled last December that the statements of Mongani Masuku on the subject of Israel amounted to antisemitic hate speech. He was invited to the UK on a trip paid for by the University and College Union to promote the exclusion of Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic community.

The Human Rights Commission does not makes its judgments frivolously. The Human Rights Commission is aware of the distinction between criticism of Israel and antisemitism. The Human Rights Commission is not pro-Israel and is not concerned with defending the reputation of Israel. It is concerned with racism.

Masuku has openly and repeatedly stated that South African trade unions would target Jewish supporters of Israel in South Africa and “make their lives hell”. He urges that “every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our brothers and sisters in Palestine”.

The Human Rights Commission recognized unequivocally that using anti-Israel rhetoric, Masuku has attempted to mobilize South African trade unionists against Jews in South Africa. Masuku believes that Jews who are not anti-Zionist are “agents of apartheid and friends of Hitler” and he proposes to relate to them as though they were both.

UCU has paid for this man to tour Britain’s campuses to make the argument for a boycott of Israeli universities.

Surely, when it was explained to UCU that Masuku was here to use antisemitic hate speech then it would have realised that it has made a mistake?

But no. The distinction between criticism of Israel and antisemitism has been explained to UCU countless times over the past decade but UCU is not interested and it continues to turn a blind eye to antisemitism.

A UCU spokesperson told a journalist from the Jerusalem Post that the sources of the evidence against Masuku were not credible.

The UCU spokesperson did not understand who the South African Human Rights Commission is or the significance of what it judged.

But there is nothing new about this. UCU has demonstrated repeatedly that it is simply not bothered by antisemitism if it comes packaged in the language of criticism of Israel.

Jews in UCU have been bullied, have resigned, have been pushed out and have been silenced. The situation is so serious that at the last UCU Congress there were no Jews left who were prepared to oppose the boycott campaign.

June 4, 2009

Jon Pike,

Resignation letter from UCU National Executive.

We have a union that has allowed the distribution of antisemitic material on its internal lists, and the peddling of antisemitic conspiracy theories by some of its members, whilst banning anti-racist and Jewish members who have objected to such material.

We have a union from which hundreds of members – many of them Jewish – have resigned in protest at the unwarranted exceptionalism of its attitude to Israel. I believe that many more will do so.

We have a union that entirely refuses to investigate concern about institutional antisemitism when raised through the proper channels, by members. The UCU is now the most complacent public institution in Britain with respect to the current rise in antisemitism.

Antisemitism; My View

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

This article by Ruth Gledhill is reproduced from the winter edition of the Council of Christians & Jews Common Ground. Ruth Gledhill is the Religious Affairs correspondent of The Times.

The ‘new’ or ‘post-modern’ antisemitism is not a phenomenon easily addressed in a world looking for simple certaintieswith which to counter increasing complexity. Antisemitism is the oldest hatred, but it was only in 2004 that Europe’s racism monitoring centre came up with the working definition used today: Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Today the issue of antisemitism has slightly fallen off the radar. Islamaphobia has become more ‘fashionable’, if that is the right phrase. The effectiveness of Holocaust education in schools means that new generations are growing up aware as never before of the implications of such prejudice. Out there on my ‘beat’ as Time religion correspondent, at dinner parties, over coffee, I increasingly encounter the view that antisemitism is no longer the ‘problem’ it was. ‘It is time for the Jews to move on,’ an acquaintance told me recently. If only it were that simple!

In fact the problem is in some respects as bad as it has ever been. But it is more complicated and, as a result potentially more dangerous. The latest rise in antisemitism is connected to the conflict in Gaza. But even in the last months of this year, the average number of incidents being reported has been higher than usual.

Anti-Zionists defend their stance with well-known arguments and it would be unreasonable to argue that all, or even any anti-Zionists, are antisemites. A few are themselves Jewish. The problem is that anti-Zionism can feed into strands of innate antisemitism in society where they might still exist, even in our post-Holocaust world, and hence the upwards blip in attacks whenever Israelc omes in for strong criticism in the news.

Irish people were not targeted in Britain when the IRA was rampantly terrorist. Russians are not targeted here when Russia is in the news for controversial action in Chechnya. People of Chinese ancestry are not beaten up each time the Chinese government moves to crush dissent. Muslim friends of mine do, however, find themselves harrassed in a number of ways after controversial events abroad, sometimes to the point where they are afraid to leave their homes. Racism has to be resisted, under whatever guise it appears. It is a matter of basic human rights that Jewish people in Britain, be not held to account for actions committed in a conflict overseas. Equally, Jewish people like everyone else have the right to hold any view they wish about the conflict in Israel, and even if they support Israel and identify completely with Israel as a state, they have the right to take that position without being assaulted for it.

Really what we have today is not a ‘new’ antisemitism, so called by the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks. It is the old antisemitism, back in a new form. As CST’s Mark Gardner says: It is different. It is more complicated. It is postmodern.’

Tis the Season to be Racist

Friday, December 4th, 2009

This is a cross-post from Mark Gardner at The CST Blog

The video below shows an argument between a pro-Israel demonstrator and an anti-Zionist of apparently Christian English origin, who says that his name is

Recycling Old Libels

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

This is a guest post from Arieh Kovler, Director of the Fair Play Campaign Group


The Blood Libel is one of the oldest antisemitic charges against Jews: the accusation that Jewish people conspire to kill non-Jews for nefarious purposes. The most common formulation of this lie is that Jews kill a Christian boy in order to use their blood for a ritual of some kind. But many of the earliest recorded blood libels level a slightly different accusation.

In 1909, Prof Hermann Strack of Berlin University wrote The Jew and Human Sacrifice – the first serious scholarly work devoted to exposing the Blood Libel as a dangerous historical lie. It is, unfortunately, still relevant today. Talking about the earliest Blood Libels, he notes (p174):

Communities Minister launches new EISCA research

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Shahid Malik with the report's authors

Shahid Malik with the report’s authors. photo by David Rose


Shahid Malik, Minister for Social Cohesion, has spoken out about the dangers of antisemitic discourse both in the politics of the far right and, on occasion, in anti-Zionist rhetoric, at the launch of a report entitled,

Understanding and Addressing

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Understanding and Addressing the Nazi Card Download EISCA

Denis MacShane: Speech at UN Conference against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution (Durban II)

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Geneva 22nd April 2009

Let us just imagine that this week the leader of a so-called Christian or northern Caucasian state had taken the podium at a United Nations conference and made remarks about Muslims or about black people or about a democratically constituted rule of law nation such as those that were made by the President of Iran on Monday.

Geneva II – Farce or Tragedy? By Dominic Lawson

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Dominic Lawson is a member of the EISCA Advistory Board. This article originally appeared in the Sunday Times.

If you attend a circus, you should expect to see a clown – and if you get into the ring with him, you shouldn