UK lawmakers push to outlaw criticism of Zionism

Jeremy Corbyn giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s investigation into anti-Semitism, flanked by Shami Chakrarbarti. (UK Parliament)

A new report by an influential parliamentary committee has recommended that the UK outlaw the word “Zionist” when used “in an accusatory context.”

Published on Sunday, the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report also slams Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for heading a party with “institutionally anti-Semitic” elements.

Despite its overwhelming focus on the opposition Labour Party, the committee admits that there is no evidence of a higher prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes within Labour than in any other party.

At the same time, the report downplays allegations of racism and anti-Semitism in the governing Conservative Party.

Corbyn in a statement Sunday criticized the report’s focus on Labour, saying the Conservative-dominated committee had failed to look at “combating anti-Semitism in other parties.” He said that “politicizing anti-Semitism – or using it as a weapon in controversies between and within political parties – does the struggle against it a disservice.”

Palestine’s BDS National Committee said that the report “shows a flagrant disregard for Palestinian rights and history.”

European spokesperson Riya Hassan said the report would help “to suppress freedom of expression” and would encourage repression against advocates for Palestinian rights.

Defining anti-Semitism

The lawmakers’ report recommends adoption into UK law of a controversial definition of anti-Semitism which the BNC’s Hassan called “false, ahistorical and politicized.”

She said the discredited definition conflates criticism of Israel with racism against Jewish people and was “designed to protect Israel’s human rights violations from censure and accountability.”

In a statement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair Hugh Lanning said the definition would “have a chilling effect on what can be said in opposition to Israel’s policies of discrimination and oppression towards the Palestinian people.”

In May, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that includes “claiming the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavor” or “applying double standards” to Israel.

As the parliamentary report acknowledges, the IHRA definition is based on the European Union Monitoring Center’s 2005 discussion paper on anti-Semitism.

That widely discredited paper was never officially adopted by any EU body and was eventually ditched by the EUMC’s successor agency.

But Israel lobby groups have persisted in promoting it as the “EUMC definition,” seeking to have it officially adopted.

The report attempts to mollify criticism by recommending two modifications: that it is not anti-Semitic “to criticize the government of Israel” or to “hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies.”

But the lawmakers still list as examples of anti-Semitism a broad range of political discourse, including “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”

This could potentially mean that calls for a nonsectarian democracy that gives full and equal rights to Israeli Jews and Palestinians could be defined as anti-Semitic. It could also outlaw the views of Jews who reject Zionism and the creation of a “Jewish state” on religious grounds.

“For the purposes of criminal or disciplinary investigations,” the report asserts, “use of the words ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zio’ in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic.”

Unfair criticism

The report has also been condemned by Jewish critics of Zionism, Israel’s official ideology.

Jonathan Rosenhead, a London School of Economics professor and activist with the group Free Speech on Israel, told The Electronic Intifada that “Zionism has been the cause of gross injustice to the Palestinians, so in that sense, every usage of the word Zionist is accusatory.”

According to the committee, Shami Chakrabarti’s recent report into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is “compromised by its failure to deliver a comprehensive set of recommendations.” It also claims that Chakrabarti’s recent appointment to Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet “has thrown into question the independence of the Labour Party’s inquiry.”

Corbyn hit back that the committee had unfairly criticized Chakrabarti, and that her report was an “unprecedented step for a political party, demonstrating Labour’s commitment to fight against anti-Semitism.”

He said Labour would continue to implement her report’s recommendations.

In June, Chakrabarti, a widely respected lawyer who headed the civil rights group Liberty for more than a decade, launched the report into allegations of anti-Semitism, many of which were fabricated or exaggerated.

Refuting widespread media claims, her report concluded that “the Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism,” but that there is a “minority” of “hateful or ignorant attitudes.”

The Chakrabarti Inquiry was widely welcomed, even by some anti-Palestinian organizations.

Conservatives off the hook

The lawmakers’ report acknowledges that “the majority of anti-Semitic abuse and crime” comes from the far right.

It also states there is “no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.” Despite this, it focuses disproportionately on Labour.

While asserting that “no party can afford to be complacent,” the report dedicates only three paragraphs in its 70 pages to allegations of anti-Semitism in the ruling Conservative Party.

One of the two examples it cites allegedly took place at University College London in 2014. A member of the school’s Conservative Society allegedly said that “Jews own everything, we all know it’s true. I wish I was Jewish, but my nose isn’t long enough.”

Noting that the incident was never even investigated by the party, the report says that “questions have subsequently been raised about the veracity of the complaint.”

Such skepticism is absent, however, in the report’s detailed and highly flawed account of what transpired in Oxford University’s Labour Club after Alex Chalmers quit as chair in February.

Chalmers has never offered a shred of public evidence to corroborate his widely publicized claim that “a large proportion” of Labour students at Oxford are anti-Semitic.

As reported by The Electronic Intifada in April and May, Chalmers was implicated in a factional dispute within the Labour Party, which involved attempts to smear rivals with unsupported claims of anti-Semitism.

A dossier compiled in May by the trade union Unite shows a long list of racist statements by Conservative ministers and activists, including at least four alleged incidents of anti-Semitism.

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The British politicians who are doing the bidding of an occupying nation, should pause to take a hard look at what has happened in the US - we are totally controlled in every way, have our foreign policies corrupted, politicians doing the bidding of its lobbies, have our colleges and think tanks corrupted, and even the media dare not use the words "occupation", "land grabs" refer to the billions in aid and weapons we have to keep giving a nation who otherwise would be called a rogue nation, or an apartheid state openly by us. Do these British politicians want this for their own nation?

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Are we:

(A) Giving aid to a foreign country
(B) Supporting a friend and ally
(C) Paying extortion to a rogue nuclear state
(D) Paying tribute to our rulers

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They'll have to build an awful lot of prisons then - in double quick time. They'll probably do it. Funds needed won't, of course, be recovered from Trident, other military rubbish - or new-build grammar schools; just everything that most people consider to be essential.

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So the word Zionism is to be outlawed if used in an accusative context. Oh well, looks like I'll see the inside of a prison cell for the first time in my life....

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They want anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism to be viewed as the same thing. It is not. The Israel lobby, with all the power and influence that their money buys, will never silence their critics - with or without this ridiculous proposal. My guess is that its being put forward now because 2017 marks 50 years of apartheid in the Occupied Territories. Zionism is Nazism, and those who know it will never be quiet.

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Not only that. It will be 100 years since the appalling Balfour Declaration, which became a stitchup for the Palestinians, who had NO SAY in this.

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...but what makes you think it's okay to call ANYTHING even REMOTELY related to Jews "Nazism"?

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Markus - I said ZIONISM is Nazism, I didn't say being Jewish is anything to do with Nazism. My opening point was to say that none of us should accept any blurring between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Israeli troops in the OTs have murdered unarmed Palestinians - the videos are widely available online in case your viewing is selectively mainstream media. The litany of disgraceful practices in the name of Israel's Zionist leaders is as extensive as it is sub-human. Choose your own truth, but be sure it IS truth and not just Netanyahu & the Israel lobby's propaganda.

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It doesn't matter; comparing anything having to do with Jews to the Nazis is never okay. It's pretty sad that you assume I must be a brainwashed Zionist for simply pointing this out.

PS: I'm Markus, by the way.

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Markus - I never said you're brainwashed. You've assumed that all by yourself. You can point out your OPINION that comparing these 2 things is never OK. But that's all that it is - your opinion. I think it is not only OK, it is absolutely essential to shame your government's deplorable actions. All the suffering in the world by Jews does NOT exempt the Israeli government from criticism when their actions are so very clearly similar to the Nazis. I get it - you don't like the term Nazi. So what SHOULD we call the Israeli occupation? How about hegemony? Netanyahu & the Israeli government certainly seem intent on trying to kill all Palestinians - including the bombing of schools & hospitals etc. Bottom line is this, just because your (Israel's) people have been persecuted, you still have no right to persecute others.

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Like it or not, Steve, the Zionist entity is very closely linked to contemporary Judaism. I agree it is distant concept for people of "Jewish heritage", whatever that might mean, non-practising Jews, and the some rather extreme conservative groups.

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Hi Markus: NaZionism is pretty closely connected to Nazism and Zionism. We're not talking Jews or Jewish here. As great grand-mama Esther might have remarked were she still living.

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No, Zionism and Nazism are not connected in any way. They are opposing ideologies.

I also thought you might be interested in something I saw a Jewish Tumblr user named Joseph say regarding what you said in your comment:

"If you are a Jew, and you compare *any* Jews to Nazis, you are a monster of the kind that the goyim will use to rationalize trying to kill us all once again. You are like my great-uncle, who collaborated with the Nazis, a man who was so vile that his own brother, my grandfather, said that “the good people went up the chimney and left him behind.” That does not make you any less family, but you are the sort of family who, when you come to the door to ask for help, we should shut it in your face.

Sincerely,

A Jew whose grandparents were in Częstochowa and Auschwitz, and all of whom were nearly the sole survivors of their entire families."

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Like it or not , words , especially impact full ones, are there to use in a new world. I understand that you can't and we should never forget what this word really means.
But consider that insisting on limiting it to it's specific origin is a lot like the whole argument for support for Israel, right or wrong. It's unjust to expect the whole world to detour it's natural evolution around something that refuses to evolve with it.
Also,please consider that in important respects the Holocaust happened to us all.

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And God neither makes exceptions nor plays favorites. Has Gaza not been made a ghetto? Are not Palestinians enduring something like genocide as their homes and homeland are stolen from them and their children's futures stunted?
If it's a matter of degree, make it junior Nazi or Naziesque.

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Its always about them isn't it . We see it in Western Politics , call the other out on some trumped up charge , for something they are guilty of themselves. It only exposes their insecurity of being on very shaky ground.

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If this ridiculous law goes through I hope as many people break it as a point of principal.... are they going to fine/charge 10% of the nation over this if people refuse to conform to this additional step towards modern slavery?

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I took the time this morning to watch the appearance in July of Jeremy Corbyn before this committee. The tone was entirely adversarial and even inquisitorial in places, as members demanded his agreement with their own stated abhorrence of his leadership. But what was most striking was the petty scale of the alleged offences and their actual paucity in numbers. Again and again, the same five or six incidents were rehashed and blame directed at Corbyn over incidents which in some cases are now known to have either not occurred or have had a very different cast from that depicted at the time. For example, one party member using Twitter quoted a joke from comedian David Baddiel- who is Jewish and supports Israel- and was then witch-hunted for antisemitism.

The resurrection of these absurd charges comes during a slow period for the anti-Corbyn forces within the Labour Party. Their candidate Owen Smith was thrashed in the recent leadership election, and the influence of Blair and his acolytes continues to wane. The public recognise a smear campaign. In particular, they know a busted flush when they see it.

Here's a link to that testimony in July. Judge for yourselves the character, motives and competence of Corbyn's parliamentary accusers.

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/E...

It should be pointed out that the oleaginous chairman, Keith Vaz, has since withdrawn from that position. He is currently enmeshed in a scandal regarding personal misconduct.

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Great Britain's economy is situated at the bottom of the toilet bowl & this is the priority of the political arena (?)
If they are expecting some kind of financial leg up from The Lovely Land Of Zion as a reward.
Sorry folks but even Zion is at the doorstep of Insolvency & Bankruptcy.
The whole world is sick to death of the same song, over & over & over again
"look what they are doing to us"
"look what they are saying about us"
"help us, help us"
"give generously"

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Maybe a speedy "trade deal" post-Brexit? Fruit and veg from the WB anyone?

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So unless you support an Apartheid system that allows one race of people unlimited water supplies including having in-ground pools (which is living on occupied land)& the other race of indigenous people have to live on 2 gallons of polluted water a day, if you don't support that, YOU are the Racist? (Didn't Orwell predict this future?)

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Britain issued the Balfour Declaration on Nov. 2nd, 1917 where it adopted the Zionist settler colonialist Movement. Britain also facilitated the illegal Zionist emigration to Palestine during its "British Mandate" over Palestine.
It turned a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Zionist terrorist gangs in 1948 (Almost half of all the Palestinians who became refugees happened under the watchful eyes of the British occupation forces)...
This report is a preemptive move on the part of the ruling classes in Britain to legitimize the Balfour Declaration and avoid taking any responsibility for the Palestinian GENOCIDE...
Sima Vaknin-Gil, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs "warned that 2017 is expected to be a 'very problematic' year, due to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War...and the 100th anniversary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration..." https://www.algemeiner.com/201...

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"Illegal Zionist emigration"? Oh, you mean the flight to Palestine of thousands of desperate persecuted Jews looking for a home?

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Was Baron Rothschild, to whom the Balfour Declaration was addressed, one of those "persecuted Jews looking for a home"? Why did North America (US and Canada) have quotas on saving Jews during the Holocaust? Why did the Zionists demand and agreed to those quotas? And finally why did the Zionist movement collaborate with Nazi Germany?

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http://www.historylearningsite...
The British government promised the land to the Palestine and yet failed to keep that promise in favour for the Jews. The British government have blood on their hands in my opinion. They've done nothing for the Palestinians since. The Balfour agreement, If I'm correct, stipulated that the land promised to the Jews would not come at a cost to those already living there.

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I agree with the above comment.Zionism is not the same as Judaism.Zionism is a racist ideology on per with Nazism.In fact Zionism is the enemy of Judaism.People often equate the two they are not linked,not all Zionists are jews and not all jews are Zionists

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Zionists with their theft of Palestinean lands, their torture of Palestinian children (and adults) their imprisonment of an entire population certainly merit no respect. It is time that they were forced to give back historical Palestine and houses and land and rights to those they have dispossessed. Nazionists!

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If any law is passed (hope not) the following should be added:

To be considered a criminal act----

The use of Nazi or Fascist in an accusatory way

The use of "Communist" in an accusatory way

The use of "Conservative" "Tory" in an accusative way

********************

All this is reminiscent of the so-called [Joe] McCarthy period
in the US which really had its roots in other efforts by
authorities such as The Attorney General's List,The Loyalty
Oath, the Red Scare, the anti-alien legislation (so-called
"Alien Registration Acts", The Black Codes, the Indian
Removal Act etc.

Unfortunately for the UK report, many Constitutional
Amendments(such as free speech etc.) would need to
totally eliminated from the US Constitution.

The best remedy is, of course, for Israel to cease being
a Zionist State at all. I would support that!

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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Whilst agreeing strongly that accusations of anti-Semitism are being wrongly used to undermine Corbyn, and many others who share legitimate concern over the crimes commited by the Israeli state, it cannot be ignored that there are anti-Semites who hide behind the term anti-Zionist. A look at the postings of people such as @smeggypants on Twitter, or a Twitter search of "Holohoax Zionism" will provide ample examples. Anti-Semitism is widespread and as dangerous as ever - we must not close our eyes to it. This makes the smearing of Corbyn and Chackrabarti all the more unacceptable as it undermines our ability to challenge the real anti-Semites spreading their hatred.

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I have always been anti zionist, but I have no problems with the jewish religion or jewish people. I can see the similarities between zionism and the nazis of the 1930s. The zionists should have no place in our society, and no place in our government.

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I have not "always" been anti-Zionist. I am of Jewish heritage but never
practiced. For a profound examinations of Zionism/Israel read:
Maxime Rodinson: ISRAEL A COLONIAL STATE? At least that is
the incorrect title translation available in English. The original title was:
"Israel fait colonial". Note: no ???'s!!!

I am not certain about being "anti-semitic". I agree with Michael Prior CM
in his landmark book THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM:A MORAL CRITIQUE.
To wit, those professing the Jewish faith must confront its bloody, brutal
views toward the oppressed ("Caananites" etc.). (Gen.12-2 Kings)

Before delving into M. Rodinson, I recommend reading his bio in
Wikipedia. The book stands without this, of course. But the fact that
his family fled Russia to France and while Rodinson himself
was out of France (in Lebanon) his parents were killed in Aushcwitz
is certainly relevant.

It is not necessary that I believe tenets of the Jewish faith as
I do not believe the doctrines of Catholicism or of the
Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) etc.

Following Prior's summaries, I suggest you read about
contemporary anthropology ("minimalists").

Remember as well that Zionists themselves have consistently
equated Zionism with all Jewry. According to Professor
Rodinson, a few hundred Russians being oppressed chose to
go to Palestine. Tens of thousands CHOSE America, not
Palestine at all. In fact, Jews all over the world have
again and again CHOSEN the "diaspora", not Palestine.

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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thought police,mind criminality works both ways making you unsure weather telling the truth is currently o.k. ,thereby second guessing yourself and causing an unwholesome dishonesty to yourself and does a disservice to everyone ."LOOK A PINK ELEPHANT" see, now you try it. It feels right ,cuz it is what it is., and Falafel,and Couscous aren't is reali
? Dammit!

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Banning the use of the word Zionism will simply mean it will be replaced with another word with the same meaning
Zionsim= Nazism= Racism=Apartheid=failure=End of Israel as a free democratic state

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Many Labour party members are revolted by Jeremy's stealing the Labour party and flooding it with people who previously had no more than a spiritual connection to Labour. There are real fears they'll never get it back.

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Jews have had enough of this cryptic Jew-bashing. I'm glad this is being pushed through. You're not fooling anyone by using "Zio".

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Its not important what someone thinks about zionism.
One can be anti-zionist yet Israel exists.
Alternatively, one can be zionist and Israel may not exist.

Its the reality of Israel that promotes its own existence. Just as the reality of the USA promotes that country's existence. The proof of the pudding is in its own existence.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.