You could be anti-semitic if you think Israel is racist or that Jewish citizens are more loyal to Israel than their home countries, according to government guidance published yesterday.
Pickles is the United Kingdom Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues and is also the chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel.
In his article he said: “Contemporary examples of anti-semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to…
“Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust). Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust…
“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
Pickles added that examples of anti-semitism with regard to 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” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
A “racist” definition
It is widely accepted in the Muslim world (and also among many in the West) that Israel was created following the theft of Palestinian land and a campaign of ethnic cleansing. The way Israel defines itself – as a “Jewish State” – is also considered racist by many, as are its policies of collectively targeting the Palestinian population in wars and through security measures.
Reacting to the government guidance Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said the definition was absurd and even racist in itself.
He said: “They are conflating Judaism and Israel which many Jews themselves would disagree with. The fact is that many Jews consider Israel a racist state so does that make them anti-semitic? Also, at the UN conference in Durban in 2001 all the NGOs were unanimous in saying that Israel was racist, so does that make them all anti-semitic?”
Shadjareh added: “I think this statement in itself is racist. They are prioritising one race above everyone else and making them out to be special case. If they are going to say that criticism of Israel is anti-semitic would they say that criticism of a black African country is racist too? And will they apply the same definition to Muslims or Hindus?”