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Twisted comments by some far-left Jewish academics and activist groups aid and abet our community’s enemies

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A Jewish leftist from Ottawa wrote “The IHRA’s flawed definition, promoted under the sacred sign of the Holocaust, has compelled many to cow before its tacit accusations.”(Photo: socialistproject.ca)

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So why are some Jews excusing antisemitism?

We are experiencing this trauma in our community. Strange, whether we like it or not. A good deal of it swirls around the IHRA publication of indications of what might be considered antisemitism.

The code does not define these as antisemitism, but highlights what, in some contexts, might be so labelled.

ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE BEEN WIDELY ADOPTED BY MANY JURISDICTIONS, AND EVEN BY GOVERNMENTS, they have faced attacks. Sometimes groupings of Jewish notables have been at the forefront of these efforts. Their pronouncements have been used by less friendly forces to undermine their acceptance.

What is IHRA and what does its document say?

IHRA is the only intergovernmental organization mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues. Reacting to evidence that antisemitism was on the rise, it took on the task of clarifying what antisemitism is so as to better combat it. It worked to build an international consensus around a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism to set an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and to provide a tool with practical applicability for its member countries. Adopted in May, 2015, the hope was and is that this would equip member countries to address the rise in hate and discrimination at their national level.

The working definition states:

“Antisemitism  is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish and non-Jewish individual, and/or their property, toward community institutions and religious facilities.”

Examples for the guidance of members included “targeting the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity, …charging Jews  with conspiring to harm humanity…blaming Jews for “why things go wrong”…in speech, writing, visual forms, action… (ascribing to Jews) sinister stereotypes, and negative character traits.”

Contemporary examples included “calling , aiding or justifying killing or harming Jews…making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing or stereotypical allegations of controlling media, the economy or other societal institutions,… accusing Jews of being  collectively responsible for the  wrongdoing of a single or group of Jews… denying the fact, scope, mechanisms of the genocide,…accusations of (disloyalty) relative to (Jewish interests) Israel, … denying Jewish people’s right to self-determination… Israel is racist… claims of Jews killing Jesus,… applying a double standard, demanding behavior not expected of other nations… comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,… holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the state of Israel.”

Antisemitic acts are criminal when so defined by the law, when the targets of attack – people or property – are selected because they are or are perceived to Jewish.

These have been adopted or endorsed by twenty-seven countries, including the major North American and Western European countries and the United Nations and the European Union, the Organization of American States and The Council of Europe.

A dissenting group, called “The Progressive Israel Network”, is made up Ameinu, Americans For Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, The Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism and Truah. They have challenged the working definition as presenting a danger to free speech, by denying legitimate criticism of Israel. But free speech is not a licence to engage in antisemitic argument which denies Israel right to exist and to defend itself. And, indeed, legitimate criticism of Israel is expressly included as permissible under the working definition. “

There have also been similarly twisted comments by some Jewish academics. These statements aid and abet our community’s enemies.

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These groupings of Jews, representing, reportedly, those of a far-left persuasion, have, while expressing nominal support, are raising the spectre that the definition raises the danger that it might suppress legitimate free speech, deny valid criticism of Israeli government actions and advocacy for Palestinian rights. This, in spite of the specific recognition, in the original presentation, that legitimate criticism of Israel government policy is not considered antisemitism. Further, it ignores the fact that the initiative aims at dealing with antisemitism against Jews generally, not the role of Israel in its struggle to survive.

The current rise of antisemitism conflates this drive with an effort to delegitimize Israel through denying Jews of the right to self-determination, the application of double standards to Israel’s actions, and ascribing to all Jews responsibility for Israel policies that its followers do not like. All of these have been identified as antisemitic initiatives.

It is dangerous to ascribe to these groupings motive which may be varied in nature depending on their origins. However, some may have an animus against the rightist-oriented government where theirs, with the leftist orientation, was the central Israeli political strength at an earlier time in Israel. So their focus is part of the political struggle in Israel rather than the larger picture that places Jewry in the diaspora in harm’s way.

Some of these organizations were at the very heart of the original struggle for national liberation that created Israel. They now seem to be willing to throw Israel under the bus because its efforts have been crowned with success.

Merely because the enemy it confronts is now in retreat and relatively weaker, they rally to the cause of the supposed underdog, when Israel is an island in an Islamist sea. Are their actions motivated merely by an effort to retain their credentials among the movements on the Progressive Left or to score political points in Israel, where they have been rejected by most voters?

The focus of far-left Jewish groups on the IHRA definition is part of their political struggle in Israel, rather than the larger picture that places Jewry in the diaspora in harm’s way. (Photo: reconstructingjudaism.org)

The Left in the world is still fighting a battle against supposed colonial powers, suppressing the rights of subject people’s, which no longer exist.

These conditions really exist primarily in countries like Russia and China, supposedly the ideal people’s republics, or similarly, in autocracies with theocratic regimes. Perhaps they are seeking legitimacy in leftist circles by parroting that Israel is a colonial power. This is the story being put out by advocates in our centers of higher learning, denying their “holy” freedom of speech they tout to advocates for Israel.

But, again, Israel is not a colonial state, but an island of democracy in an authoritarian Islamist sea.

J Street may be anxious to present a super loyalty to America above all, anxious about the serious danger Jews in America face in an increasingly racist state.

Regardless of the motivations, these efforts are, in my view, nothing less than a betrayal of where the real loyalties of these groups should reside.

Max Roytenberg is an author, poet and blogger, with many published articles in Jewish periodicals in Dublin, New York, Winnipeg and Vancouver. After a career as an Economist and Executive in the Food Industry, in Canada and abroad, he writes, and lives with his Bride, in Vancouver. He has children and grandchildren in the US, Canada, China and Israel. His last book, “Hero In My Own Eyes”, is available through major booksellers and on Amazon.

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We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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