Letter to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Published: 2017-04-03

Dear Washington Report-

You have been one of the foremost voices of rationality and fairness regarding US policies in the Middle East.  As such, you should be aware of a developing threat to to free speech and the expression of what can be called in the United States “minority views” toward the oppression of Palestinians.

In 2005, the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, now the 

EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, (FRA), adopted a new “working definition of antisemitism” which greatly expanded the scope of the term.  FRA declared that, “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.

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).”

Although this definition would seriously restrict the rights of people to speak out for Palestinians or to denounce racist Israeli policies, it has been adopted by more and more governmental entities  including the European Parliament, the US Senate and the 31 countries comprising the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance. 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 the new and expanded Definition of Antisemitism. 

Already the new and expanded definition is being used to crush criticism of Israeli 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.

These major steps toward the criminalization of criticism of Israel have not been fought by Palestinian rights groups.  Time to wake up!

 

Respectfully,

David Merlin, 

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.  

P.O. Box 20774   York, PA  17402       

[email protected]

=======================

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

2 https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/10/text

3https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/sites/default/files/press_release_document_antisemitism.pdf

4https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-leads-the-way-in-tackling-anti-semitism


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Author(s): David Merlin
Title: Letter to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
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Published: 2017-04-03
First posted on CODOH: April 3, 2017, 6:31 p.m.
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