A new critique of the IHRA code of conduct, now incorporated into the Labour Party’s disciplinary code, has been published by European Jews for a Just Peace, a federation of 11 European Jewish peace including the UK’s Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
It argues that the assurance in the introduction to the code that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic” is impossibly ambiguous.
“Does it mean that anyone criticising Israel can be regarded as antisemitic unless he or she has also criticized other countries in the same way? Even worse, does it mean that the person can be regarded as antisemitic unless he or she criticises other countries in the same way at the same time? Either way, it would discourage people from exercising their right to criticise Israel.
“What does ‘similar’ mean in this context? What other countries have been belligerently occupying another people’s land, illegally settling it and taking its natural resources, creating an apartheid-like system of unequal rights, and using violent and sometimes lethal means to repress resistance, for 50+ years?
“The sentence also creates an internal contradiction in the document. It contradicts the immediately preceding sentence in the preamble and the last bullet point in “contemporary examples of antisemitism”. If Jews are not collectively responsible for the actions of Israel (as surely they are not), then how can it be antisemitic to single out Israel, whether the criticism is well or ill founded ?
“There are of course many other countries that abuse the human rights of their own citizens, and they are regularly criticised. However, no one is required to choose between concerning himself with all cases of abuse or none. That would be a limitation on freedom of speech.
“We believe adoption would also have severe consequences for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The more widely it is adopted, the greater will be its effect in repressing criticism of Israel, and the more will right-wing Israeli governments be emboldened to continue acting as if they are above the law.”