Closing down debate
It’s a shame the Labour Party NEC backed down on the question of adopting all of the possible examples of anti-semitism appended to the IHRA definition. It was expedient I suppose, but hardliners like Hodge have already said it’s two steps forward and one step back, although I have not seen an elaboration on what the one step back is. The issue is not going away as long as the anti-Palestinian pro-Israeli lobby keeps up its work. That they will do that is evident from the work this lobby is doing in the U.S. (given the American contribution of 20% to Israel’s defence budget this is more important to them than what the U.K. is up to.) An article just published by Counterpunch reveals how as a consequence of a quite separate dispute in the Middle East (Qatar v. Saudi Arabia, et al) the Qatari owned Al Jazeera TV network has dropped its U.S. equivalent of their U.K. investigation of how the Israel lobby is working tirelessly behind the scenes to smear pro-Palestinian voices, especially in academia. Here’s a sample:
Students recounted in the documentary exactly what they faced. Summer Awad, who took part in a campaign for Palestinian rights in Knoxville, Tennessee, was harassed on Twitter, and information about her, some of it dating back a decade, was posted online: ‘They are digging and digging. Somebody contacted my employer and asked for me to be fired. If they continue to employ me they will be denounced as antisemitic.’ Denunciation can end careers or make it hard for students to find a job after graduation. To get their names off the blacklist, some victims write messages of ‘repentance’, which Canary Mission posts on its site (8). These anonymous confessions, whose writers explain that they were ‘deceived’, are much like those of suspected communist sympathisers under McCarthyism in the US in the 1950s, or victims of authoritarian regimes today. Baime said: ‘It’s psychological warfare. It drives them crazy. They either shut down, or they spend time investigating [the accusations against them] instead of attacking Israel. It’s extremely effective.’ Another person told Kleinfeld [Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter): ‘I think antisemitism as a smear is not what it used to be.’
Labour’s outright adoption of the IHRA definition will I think give the lie to the last comment above (although there's a bit of ambiguity there). It will be used as ‘the lobby’ intends – to silence legitimate debate in the U.K. political party where that debate has been strongest, and dare I say healthiest.
Leave a Reply.