In response to the debate on the potential adoption by political parties and public bodies of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s (IHRA) guidelines on defining anti-semitism, daikon* stands in solidarity with 83 BAME and migrant organisations in opposing current attempts to silence a public discussion of the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their territory in 1948, and the continued human rights abuses inflicted upon this community.
We stand firmly against anti-Semitism in all its forms. However, we believe that aspects of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism risk contributing to the public erasure of the experiences of the Palestinian people. Listed alongside the IHRA’s definition of anti-semitism are examples aimed at “illustrat[ing] how antisemitism could manifest itself.” The guide lists “[d]enying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” as an example of anti-semitism. We are concerned that guidelines such as these threaten robust discussion of the historical and ongoing expropriation, oppression, and marginalisation of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel. The State of Israel is not representative of all Jewish people and as stated by the IHRA, it is not to be conceived as “a Jewish collectivity”. Thus, criticism of the ways in which Israel has suppressed Palestinians’ rights, identity, language, and culture, and dispossessed them of their land, cannot be equated with the denial of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people.
We believe that a blanket adoption of these guidelines would pose a fundamental threat to our freedom of speech, with which we are able to cast a light on international state-sanctioned violence and human rights atrocities. In effect, it would shut down conversations about the enduring effects of the nakba and the prolonged suffering of the Palestinians, through conflation of such discussion with antisemitism. Further, an implication of adopting the IHRA guidelines on anti-Semitism might be to silence critical Jewish voices, amongst many others.
The IHRA’s definition and guidelines have been criticised by other civil society organisations, including but not limited to:
Jewish Voice for Labour
Palestinians in the UK
A worldwide coalition of Jewish organisations, coordinated by Jewish Voice for Peace
We reject both anti-Semitism and the cynical conflation of anti-Semitism with firm and proportionate critique of policies of the Israeli state. We stand united in anti-racist, anti-imperialist solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who support them.
Read the original letter from 83 BAME and migrant organisations here.