Our cross-party report underlines the need for action over antisemitism

9th February, 2015 9:52 am

Today, we have published the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism report. This new document which looks specifically at the anti-Jewish hatred emanating from the Middle East conflict, follows the first inquiry into antisemitism which I commissioned and which reported in 2006. That report set in place an action plan that has guided parliamentary, governmental and civic society measures which have ensured that Britain is viewed as a model of good practice in Europe. As our report today reveals, we still have an uphill journey ahead to retain such a position. Specifically, I would argue that we on the left must intensify our efforts to ensure we are not the junior partners in what must be a collaborative effort.

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There is a total of 34 recommendations in the report but a number of key themes that draw them together. The first is perhaps the most straightforward and that is to support our British community in words and deeds. The figures presented in our report are stark. There was a simply unacceptable rise in antisemitic incidents during the summer of 2014. From abuse hurled at visibly Jewish people to boycott activities which manifested in antisemitic ways, the list makes for uncomfortable reading. Taken together with recent events in Paris, it is unsurprising that the Jewish community are feeling very anxious and unsettled. The report recommends measures that should serve to reassure that community, such as improvements to police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and judicial guidance and additionally, funding for the security of synagogues across the UK. QBut of equal importance is a vocal opposition to antisemitism and on this, there is somewhat of a vacuum on the political left.

A second theme in the report which relates to language, is ensuring a responsible public debate. Sadly, on a cross-party basis, some of the language about the Middle East conflict was simply unacceptable. There has been much discussion of the ‘right to offend’ in recent weeks and whilst free speech is a critical and central facet of our democracy, that does not mean that we should accept trends towards grossly offensive, misleading and indeed antisemitic rhetoric in our public debate. The trivialization of the Holocaust, accusations of dual loyalty and malign influence and the categorisation of Jews as ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ were all recurring themes during the summer and we discuss them in depth in our report. We on the left must solemnly reflect on the nature of our discourse. Public figures and institutions should be setting a responsible tone for our national debate and whilst we recommend clear guidance in this area, avoiding the dangerous themes to which I have referred would be wise.

There are efforts that we on the left can and should be supporting and as is highlighted in the report, the important of inter-communal activity cannot be overstated. We must not allow the fight against antisemitism to be politicised and for the debate over the Middle East to be perceived as some form of political tool with which to win community support. The national review of interfaith which we propose will help us to prioritise resources in this important area.

Appropriately for a blog, the fourth theme relates to modernising the fight against antisemitism. Those that followed the horrendous abuse against Luciana Berger and against me having defended her, will understand clearly the need for action against the perpetrators of cyber hate. A key recommendation of the report relates to the use of prevention orders to limit the abuse spewed out by the most determined delinquents.

Finally and on a more positive note, the report recommends we celebrate and communicate the successes that we have achieved. Over ten years, we have established important and in some cases exemplary frameworks for combatting antisemitism and we could and should be better at explaining what has happened.

So much has been done and yet there is much still to do. We on the left have a particular challenge, we must be more outspoken, more strident and more visible in our stance against antisemitism. It is an inherent part of our ideology. It is our duty.

John Mann is the MP for Bassetlaw and he chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism

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  • David Pickering

    “the perpetrators of cyber hate. A key recommendation of the report relates to the use of prevention orders to limit the abuse spewed out by the most determined delinquents.”

    Oh dear, John Mann seems to be totally ignorant as to how easy it is to guarantee your anonymity online, leaving you free to say whether you want. It really is quite worrying that a parliamentary committee could be so ignorant of this issue.

    This seems to me to be yet another ill thought out demand for action in the name of “something must be done” whilst ignoring the ineffectiveness of their proposals.

    Are our politicians really as ignorant as Mr Mann & Co appear to be demonstrating?

    • bikerboy

      Yes they are. It’s the same story with encryption.

      • David Pickering

        Thank goodness we don’t rely on these bozos to create laws to ‘protect’ us.

  • carlton temple-powell

    While we all condemn Anti-Semitism, we have to be careful that we don’t by default outlaw open criticism of certain Zionist policies. Some have called for the term ‘Zionist’ to be classed as a racist term but this would be a mistake. We only have to look at the Jewish community’s overreaction to the BBCs Tim Willcox, when he was playing devil’s advocate in suggesting that some anti-Jewish feeling could possibly be traced back to the actions of the Israeli govt, to see how an opinion can be misinterpreted. A careful balance needs to be struck here and there is a world of difference between mainstream criticism of Zionist policies and vicious right-wing hate propaganda.

    • David Pickering

      It’s a matter of time before criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians will be classified a hate crime.

      • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

        Anti-Semitism relates to a hatred of the Jews. Unfortunately, while such odiousness used to be a creature of the right, leftists now lead the field hiding behind a wafer thin lamina of apparent anti-Zionism, as in your case.

        Such sentiments never seem to apply to any other conflicts involving Islamists – just Israel. Why? Erm, let me think.

        • David Pickering

          Well, this is a first. Most people on LabourList accuse me a being a baby eating Tory, or even a UKIP supporter, so it’s rather entertaining that you now accuse me of being ‘on the left’. For the Record, I’m a libertarian, and a fan of Ayn Rand. I guess you already know where this is going…

          You accuse me of being an anti-semite hiding behind a veneer of anti-zionism. You do so without a shred of evidence.

          Let me help you out. I support Israel’s right to exist. I support it’s right to defend it’s borders. What I do not defend or support is Israel’s penchant for killing women and children. Equally I do not support Islamists killing Israelis.

          Murder is murder, whether it is carried out by Jews, Muslims, Russians, Ukrainians, Americans, or the British. Anyone who commits murder should be in prison. What we should not be doing under any circumstance, is defending them or glossing over their crimes.

          Its really rather depressing that any criticism of Israel’s foreign policy is met with the “you’re an anti-semite” card. I thought you were better than that.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            It looks very much to me that you are hiding behind a very thin veneer of apparently hating Israel while it is the Jews whom you really hate.

            Get cross if you like but that is how it looks to me.

            Much of the stuff which comes out of the Israel/Palestine conflict is lies and innuendo and obfuscation and half truth.

            I am not a fan of the Israeli government to say the least and I don’t think very much at all of their Prime Minister.

            I have had to travel there a few times to help some of them with their sums and it is interesting to experience it from both sides and I spent time both in Israel and Palestine. People who give vent to sentiments like yours seldom condemn or seem to have any interest at all in any other conflicts involving Islamic atrocities.

            I’ll leave it there if you don’t mind because I know that I will not get anywhere here. I don’t think you do yourself any favours though.

          • David Pickering

            Having being wrong about me being on the left, you now ignore my defence of Israel, and once again play the Jew hater card without a shred of evidence. That is a disgusting slur.

            People will read this thread and come to their own conclusions.

    • Helen

      “while we all condemn anti Semitism….” Not sure you do really and “overreaction to Tim Wilcox”. This is the BBC reporter who decided to question a shocked bystander (somewhat different from playing devil’s advocate) on the day of the attack to the effect that a terror attack on innocent Jewish shoppers in a kosher food store was somehow attributable to Israel. This was as clear an example of conflating anti Jewish terror with the actions of Israel as you’ll ever find. And Wilcox deserves to lose his job over it. I am no great fan of the current Israeli government but that is a world away from condemning Israel itself.

      • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

        Well said. They condemn themselves and fool no-one. The Labour Party does not benefit from them to say the least.

      • carlton temple-powell

        It’s because pro-Israel groups have played the ‘Anti-Semitism’ card so often, to halt all criticism of Israel, that we have so much confusion in this area. Its bizarre to hear Pro-Israeli groups describing left-wingers as ‘Racist’ Are left-wingers really racists like crazed right-wingers because they criticize punitive acts like bulldozing and social apartheid? How many Jewish people are active on the left of politics? There are many, are they Anti-Semites? No, they criticize Israel because they have a conscience and support human rights in the true Jewish tradition. Israel shouldn’t exploit Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust to nullify all criticism of its policies.

  • Jack

    There isn’t a high level of anti-Semitism in the UK as George Galloway pointed out on Question Time recently but there is a disgust at the actions of the IDF, who are according to Miko Peled, ex IDF Captain, the best equipped terrorist force in the world for their inhuman treatment of the Palestinians. Regrettably, Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and their ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, as described by Ilan Pappe, Jewish historian and others has resulted in attacks on some Jews.

    It pays the Zionists to exaggerate anti-Semitism because it suits their plans to increase the population of Israel with Jews from all over the world whilst denying Palestinians who were born there the right to return. George Galloway makes this known and consequently he is hated and attacked by Zionists be they Jews or not.

  • Jack

    The insult ‘anti-Semite’ has been sprayed around so profusely by Zionists against anyone who criticises the ethnic cleansing policies of Israel that it is now a busted currency and has lost any shock it once had. To see all the tactics that Zionists use against those who criticise them, Google Frank Luntz’s Isareli Propaganda Bible. Luntz was often used by the BBC as some sort of expert political tactician. Mark Regev, Israeli spokesman used to justify it whenever they commit an atrocity, practically recites from it word for word.

  • ebcd

    First it was the ‘illegally occupied territories’, then the ‘occupied territories’ and now just the ‘territories’. This language shift appeases Israeli criminals. The anger throughout the Arab world caused by Zionist theft of land, deporting of people and stripping them of their political and civil rights has consequences. In Europe there is a confluence of several extremist streams including the anti-semitic far right and radicals – which radicals you ask – Can I still call them Islamic or Muslim radicals? Which they are. Muslims are not forcing detachment of Islamic or Muslim from radicalisation.

    And as the liberal West has yielded to Zionist propaganda and truth-twisting regarding the territories, now we are to suffer the same kind of bull from Muslims who want us to think that radicalisation is an evil in itself.

    The West developed in democratic directions because of periods when significant activist minorities were radicalised radicals seeking radical change.

  • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

    And to think that the above laudable article confines itself to hatred of the Jews. Nothing about Israel.

    Look at the predictable stuff below and then ask yourself whether there is any doubt these days that hatred of the Jews has turned sharp left (but has pretended not to).

    Nope

    Boko Harum? IS? Hamas? Hezbollah? Nice chaps basically (with a couple of bad eggs – which you will always find anywhere).

    Luckily, nobody outside the Labour left has any illusions at all.

    But I do applaud this article which was written in my view with great courage.

    • David Pickering

      I am very happy to condemn the murderous Boko Harum, IS, Hamas and Hezbollah thugs.

      We both agree that Israel has a right to exist, and has a right to defend it’s borders. We also agree the we don’t much like Benjamin Netanyahu. Where we differ is, I condemn Israel’s murder of civilians with the same strength that I condemn Hamas murdering Israelis. You have decided that this makes me a Jew hater.

      Indeed, I have gone much further, and said “Murder is murder, whether it is carried out by Jews, Muslims, Russians, Ukrainians, Americans, or the British. Anyone who commits murder should be in prison. What we should not be doing under any circumstance, is defending them or glossing over their crimes.”

      So, the difference between you and I is that you are silent on Israel’s murder of civilians, whereas I am not. You decry some murders, based on ethnicity / religion. You condone some murders, I do not. Somehow, that makes me a Jew hater.

      There are some in polite society who would judge you as an apologist for state murder.

      • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

        The article was concerned with anti-Semitism and not the Palestine/Israel conflict.

        The fact that you conflate the two, from my perceptive, gives you away.

        • David Pickering

          Yes, we are well aware by now that you make assertions without any evidence. By the way, it was you that conflated the Palestine/Israel conflict with anti-Semitism.

          Here is my initial comment, and your comment conflating the two issues.
          ____
          Me: It’s a matter of time before criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians will be classified a hate crime.
          _____
          You: Anti-Semitism relates to a hatred of the Jews…
          _____
          So there you have it. I comment about the inevitability of people commenting on the Palestine/Israel conflict being criminalised as anti-semites, and the first word you type in response is “Anti-Semitism”.

          I think I done now.

          • Obsidian Blade

            You do realise that the Arabs are a Semitic people. Therefore anti Arab rhetoric is a form of anti-Semitism.

            From Encyclopaedia Britannica.

            “Semite: person speaking one of a group of related languages, presumably derived from a common language, Semitic (see Semitic languages). The term came to include Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, some Ethiopians, and Aramaean tribes including Hebrews.Mesopotamia, the western coast of the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and theHorn of Africa have all been proposed as possible sites for the prehistoric origins of Semitic-speaking peoples, but no location has been definitively established.

            By 2500 bce Semitic-speaking peoples had become widely dispersed throughout western Asia. In Phoenicia they became seafarers. In Mesopotamia they blended with the civilization of Sumer. The Hebrews settled with other Semitic-speaking peoples in Palestine.”

          • David Pickering

            How fortunate then that I have attacked neither Jews nor Arabs.

          • Obsidian Blade

            I was not suggesting that you did

          • David Pickering

            Thanks. Yes, I agree with you.

  • DRbilderburg

    Try living in social housing where the abuse from anti social youths and their parents are completely ignored by plod.. You have to take the law into your own hands, how about protecting the ordinary citizens of this fking country
    New new Labour a total con

  • Obsidian Blade

    Do you all realise that the Arabs are a Semitic people. Therefore anti Arab rhetoric is a form of anti-Semitism.

    From Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    “Semite: person speaking one of a group of related languages, presumably derived from a common language, Semitic (see Semitic languages). The term came to include Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, some Ethiopians, and Aramaean tribes including Hebrews.Mesopotamia, the western coast of the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and theHorn of Africa have all been proposed as possible sites for the prehistoric origins of Semitic-speaking peoples, but no location has been definitively established.

    By 2500 bce Semitic-speaking peoples had become widely dispersed throughout western Asia. In Phoenicia they became seafarers. In Mesopotamia they blended with the civilization of Sumer. The Hebrews settled with other Semitic-speaking peoples in Palestine.”

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