In the latest crackdown on Pro-Palestinian voices and ongoing witchhunt against the Labour Party, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) has issued a report urging the government to adopt an amended definition of antisemitism that views the term "Zionist" as inflammatory and potentially antisemitic.
While the report highlights that 56% of British Jewish people self identify as Zionists, a huge proportion of the British Jewish community has gone unrepresented, failing to mention that 31% of the Jewish community did not self-identify as Zionist. . It has received a scathing response from some of those voices. Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish network of Labour, Green and trade union activists criticised the report for ignoring evidence.
"Those interviewed or referenced by the Committee who claim to represent the Jewish community all identify themselves as Zionists who defend Israel from all and any criticism, namely the Board of Deputies of British Jews, The Jewish Leadership Council, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Community Security Trust, British Information Communications Media Organisation (BICOM), and the Zionist Federation."
Free Speech on Israel also added that the report depends on evidence from almost exclusively pro-Israel, anti-Corbyn
sources and asserted that it advocates re-defining antisemitism so as to intimidate and silence pro-Palestinian voices, including making it a punishable offence to use the word Zionist “in an accusatory context”.
"The Home Affairs select committee was presented with many different views of the nature of antisemitism. The committee ignored all those which did not fit in with its narrow purpose. It should have considered how best to protect British Jews; it failed. Instead it cherry picked submissions that absolved Israel or attacked Jeremy Corbyn."
So therefore is the report by the HASC not in itself antisemitic by silencing Jewish voices that do not fit into their criteria? The report itself is inflammatory by ignoring an entire segment of society. It fails to take the issues seriously enough to give it the due attention and diligence required to add depth to the issue; and dangerously offers a limited perspective on the causes for the rise of anti-Semitism. By failing to address those Jewish voices, the report is guilty of adding fuel to the conflation of Jew, Israel and Zionism despite the dangerous implications and the well known fact that not all Jews are Zionists, nor are all Zionists Jewish.
Meanwhile, student leaders across the country have defended Malia Bouttia in an open letter of 300 signatures. The letter stated:
"We strongly regret the report’s recommendation that would suggest legitimate criticism of Zionism to be considered as hate-crimes by the government, effectively equating them with antisemitism. Zionism is a political ideology that continues to express itself through the actions of the State of Israel. It is one that is held or rejected by both Jewish people and non-Jewish people. Zionism and Judaism are not interchangeable and do not go hand in hand. As with all political ideologies, it should be open to discussion, scrutiny and debate. This is the long-held position of many Jewish academics and key figures, and one we are disappointed that the report is unable to reflect."
Zionism, a political ideology shared across the religious spectrum, was founded in the displacement of 85% of the indigenous population and systematic oppression over Palestinians. Not "merely believing in the right for Israel to exist" as the HASC report implies. The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion said "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of it's Arab Population". That is at the heart of Zionism and a policy that we can still witness today.
the 'Israel Lobby in the European Union' published earlier this year takes a look at how the Israel Lobby has been paving the way for the move towards a new definition of antisemitism that is aimed to stifle the debate and absolve Israel from any criticism. The report addresses the smear campaign launched against the Palestine Solidarity Movement across Europe manifesting itself in attacks against the non violent BDS movement amongst other tactics. It also notes how the Israel Lobby in fact works closely with some of the very far right organisations which have historically been linked with antisemitism, and are linked to "extremist settler" and "Islamophobic" movements.
Mr Zaher Birawi, the chairman of EuroPal Forum, has expressed his concern about the outline of the report published by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) on antisemitism. He expects the report is influenced by the aggressive anti – Jeremy Corbyn campaign, among both Labour party and right-wing politicians in the UK.
According to Birawi, the outline of the report is complying with the Israeli lobby schemes that aim to stop the Israeli occupation for being criticized for its crimes against Palestinians and to criminalise the boycott campaigns against Israel. In addition to countering the pro-Palestine solidarity campaigns worldwide.
Regarding criminalising the use of the term zionist and regarding that as anti-semitism, Birawi said: 'according to many academics and politicians, Zionist in its essence defines a kind of repulsive racism.'
Birawi also asserted that antizionism can not equate to antisemitism. He added: 'Standing against Zionism in the Palestinian context is standing against the claims of some Zionist leaders in there right to confiscate someone else's land."
He also stressed that many Jews do not accept that Zionism is part of Judaism. In fact there are some Jewish groups who consider Zionism a danger and a threat to the Jewish faith. A crucial perspective that has been left out of the Home Office Select Committee report on antisemitism.