Letter to Naz Shah

Published: 2017-04-20

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Tel: 020 7219 8603

Email: [email protected]

 

Dear Ms. Shah,

In December 2016, British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a press release entitled “Government leads the way in tackling anti-Semitism” which announced that the British government and its agencies would formally adopt a new and expanded definition of Antisemitism (1) as put forth in the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Tenth Report on Antisemitism in the UK. (2)

The Tenth Report, in turn, relied on a  new  "working definition of antisemitism” issued in 2005 by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, now the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, (FRA).

FRA’s “working definition of antisemitism” greatly expanded the scope of the term "Antisemitism" and FRA gave, “Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Omminously the new and expanded definition includes the hopeful suggestion that,

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).” (3)

Already the new and expanded definition is being used to crush criticism of Israeli rightwing extremists like Bibi Netanyahu. An example is the threat used against the German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost, German Newspaper Backtracks After Listing Netanyahu as a 'Crazy World Leader'

Middle East Monitor.

A German newspaper was forced to remove the name of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a list of the world's craziest leaders following diplomatic pressure.  The Hamburger Morgenpost had included Netanyahu in a list of "The Seven Craziest Leaders in the World" because he promotes settlement policies and because he tried to convince former US President Barack Obama to attack Iran. As a result, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a complaint to the German government and the Israeli embassy in Berlin criticized the newspaper and said in a statement that this is an "anti-Semitic" act. ... The newspaper was then forced to remove Netanyahu from the list and apologized for including him. (4)

We are writing to you because you were on the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee which issued the Tenth Report on Antisemitism. Unfortunately, you recused yourself from all activities related to the Committee’s inquiry. But we hope that you are aware of the threat to free speech that the new and expanded definition poses. Today, speaking out in support of the Palestinian people runs the risk of criminal sanctions depending on the government's view of the “overall context.” People speaking out in Britain may find themselves facing criminal charges in other countries.  The old working definition of term “Kafkaesque self-censorship” would seem to apply.  Similarly, discussing or debating history has been smeared and stigmatized.

From here in the US, the Tenth Report seems designed to bash Labor with comments like, "A self-selecting survey of British Jewish people found that 87% believed that the Labour Party is too tolerant of antisemitism among its MPs, members and supporters. Almost half thought the same of the Green Party, along with 43% for UKIP, 40% for the SNP, 37% for the Liberal Democrats and 13% for the Conservative Party."  Input from extremists groups like the Campaign Against Antisemitism was solicited and relied upon by the Committee.

We are writing to encourage you to speak out against the disgraceful twisting of logic and the English language that the new “definition” embodies.  Any politician who supports the new expanding definition is complicit in the oppression of Palestine and guilty of eroding the freedoms of speech and debate that are the basis of democracy.

 

Respectfully,

David Merlin,

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.

P.O. Box 20774 York, PA 17402

[email protected]

 

 

1.https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-leads-the-way-in-tackling-anti-semitism

2.https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/136/136.pdf 

3. http://www.antisem.eu/projects/eumc-working-definition-of-antisemitism/

4.https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170316-german-newspaper-backtracks-after-listing-netanyahu-as-a-crazy-world-leader/

 

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Author(s) David Merlin
Title Letter to Naz Shah
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Dates published: 2017-04-20, first posted on CODOH: April 20, 2017, 1:23 a.m., last revision: n/a
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