Al-Shabaab jihad video targets foreign recruits

November 26th, 2010 by Dave Rich

In the same week that the Guardian discovered Afghan Taliban fighters who spend most of the year in the United Kingdom, while returning to Afghanistan each summer to fight, the Somali al-Shabaab group has released a new recruitment video explicitly targeting foreigners, and specifically English speakers. Al-Shabaab was designated a proscribed terrorist group in the UK in March 2010.

The video is approximately 35 minutes long and can be watched here. It is a perfect example of how local conflicts fit into the ideology and worldview of global jihad. Very little of the rhetoric in the video relates specifically to Somalia: it preaches a language of jihad and martyrdom which could apply to any of what it calls “the lands of jihad”.

The video has English and Swahili subtitles throughout and even features a British Somali mujahid who goes by the name Abu Dujana, amongst other recruits from Sweden, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Abu Dujana

Abu Zaid

Abu Dujana makes it clear that the purpose of his jihad is nothing less than to transform the nature of society. He says (at 22:45):

I’d like to use my time to talk about the blessings of living in one of the lands of jihad. First of all, before some of us came here we were living in a society where the people were enslaved by their desires. A place where people were made busy with worldly affairs, and hardly anyone took the time for thinking of the hereafter. A place where what Allah has made forbidden, was sometimes an obligation. And what Allah has made obligatory, was sometimes forbidden. Then Allah guided us for coming to this land, so we have a chance of establishing a society where the laws of Allah would be implemented…A place where the Quran and Sunnah are the settlements of all disputes. A place where we can prevent our women and children from athiest views that sometimes are taken as ideologies…for us, a chance to fight for our beliefs is the best thing that can happen to us in this world. And the fact that we may be killed in this path is nothing but a glad tiding. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all the Muslims everywhere Eid Mubarak, and to invite all the Muslims who are living in the lands of disbelief, the lands of oppression, to make hijra…to the land of jihad.

The video also features messages from various jihadi figures including al-Qaeda’s Abu Yahya al-Libi and the late Abdullah Azzam, the leader of the Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

The presence of a British Somali in the video should not be taken as an invitation to demonise the entire British Somali community. Rather, it is an example of Al-Shabaab’s international perspective, which is apparent throughout the video. At one point (20:44), a person identified as Khalid as-Sudani says  that they will conquer “all of Somalia Bi’idnillah until we end up in Palestine.”

While Afghanistan understandably remains the focus of debate and concern about the efforts to combat the proponents of global jihad, Somalia and Yemen are becoming increasingly important as arenas in their own right. This video includes extensive footage of jihadi training routines that will be familiar to anyone who has seen similar videos shot in Afghanistan in the 1980s or Bosnia in the 1990s.

The video also identifies the perpetrator of a suicide bombing against Ethiopian troops in April 2007 as “Brother Musa” from Kenya:

Br Musa

It concludes with a rather chilling message from Shaykh Ali Mohamoud Rage, the spokesman for al-Shabaab:

Welcome

Morning Star readers: don’t abuse the Holocaust

November 26th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

On 22 November, CST Blog discussed a series of letters in the Morning Star newspaper that abused the Holocaust in order to attack Israel. CST’s article discussed the content of the letters, the manner in which they had been further debased by the headlines given them by the paper: and how this had facilitated a rapid degeneration in the debate.  

CST’s article, Morning Star and Abuse of the Holocaust, appears immediately below this post and featured on other websites, including Engage, the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism.

Since CST’s article was written and posted, two letters on the subject have appeared within the Morning Star arguing against the trend of abusing the Holocaust. They relate to the previous letters’ contents, rather than the Morning Star’s behaviour. Their animus against Israel is not in doubt, but they show that opposition to the abuse of the Holocaust still persists in such circles.

From the first letter, A disservice on all counts 

…The Holocaust was a unique historical event in which the nazis organised the industrialised genocide of millions of human beings.

Arbitrary comparisons with other historical events diminish the sheer scale and meaning of the Holocaust.

As vile as the Isreali (sic) occupation of Palestine is, it cannot be compared with industrialised genocide.

Moreover, making such a wildly misguided comparison is likely to discredit the Palestinian cause in Britain – especially among the Jewish community.

…Solidarity with Ireland and Palestine can only be harmed by such claims.

From the second letter, Leap of Horror

…The Israeli occupation of Palestine is certainly brutal but there is an exponential leap of horror between the blockade of Gaza and conditions in the Jewish ghettoes of Warsaw and Lodz.

Palestinians are not being lined up along the side of a ditch and machine-gunned en masse, nor are they being herded into cattle trucks, shipped hundreds of miles and then either gassed or worked to death.

The Holocaust was unique in its savagery. Comparing it to the common imperial brutalities of Israel is both historically illiterate and highly offensive.

(Hat-tip: I would like to thank “Pro-lifer” for bringing these letters to my attention in the comments chain at Engage, where he/she said in relation to my original article, “This site is engaging in Stalinist airbrushing. And here is the evidence for the prosecution”, and then posted links to the above letters. As I, and others, have pointed out at Engage, the above letters appeared after my original article: which is why they were omitted.)

Morning Star and Abuse of the Holocaust

November 22nd, 2010 by Mark Gardner

Recent posts on CST Blog have included sections and summaries from CST’s recently released report, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009. (The full pdf can be accessed here. 58 pages, including graphics.) The next section of the report that was due to be shown here, was that covering Abuse of the Holocaust. (These report pages 20-27 can be accessed here.)

By ugly coincidence, however, the Morning Star newspaper has recently featured an exchange of letters that epitomises some of the most challenging and upsetting aspects of Abuse of the Holocaust. The exchange led to the Morning Star’s 18 November edition publishing a letter under the disgusting headline

Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians

The letter-writer, George Abendstern, insists that he was correct to have previously depicted Israel perpetrating “a  final solution”. The evolution – or rather, degeneration – of this exchange of letters is a startling example, in miniature, of historical and moral inversions that all too often pollute anti-Zionist discourse.

The fact that the letter writer, George Abendstern, is a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany (and a long standing anti-Zionist activist) merely adds to the suitability of this letters exchange as a point of wider comparison. Afer all, Jews (including Holocaust survivors and Israelis) have consistently played a leading role as theorists and activists in the demonisation of Zionism and Zionists: including Abuse of the Holocaust.

The fact that the headlines given to the letters are chosen by the Morning Star, serves to illustrate how Jewish concerns over Zionism and Israel are then understood and utilised by those around them.  

(Note – dates given below are all as they appear in the Morning Star’s on-line edition.) 

This little examplar began on 21 October when Professor Theodore Macdonald wrote

…Even before the abominable atrocities of the nazis, it was increasingly obvious that the Jews needed their own state in order to evade persecution. That truth was cynically used by British imperialism.

…Though the Balfour Declaration was unjust, we cannot keep revisiting historical errors. The Israelis need a recognised state. So do the Palestinians. An independent Palestine is an essential precondition for world peace.

(As an aside, it should be noted that despite the above content, the Morning Star called this letter Jewish state not valid“.) 

Abendstern’s response on 4 November, included this

Theodore Macdonald writes (M Star October 22) that “it was increasingly obvious the Jews needed a state of their own.”

Why? The Jews are not a nation – as the Israeli writer Schlomo Sand said in his book The Invention Of The Jewish People.

They are an amalgam of people professing the Jewish faith.

…[Zionist Jews]…are going to Palestine not for economic reasons but because their extremist and racist views drive them to call the land of Palestine their own.

These people – many from Russia and the US – have no regard for the indigenous people of Palestine and may yet turn to the “final solution.” This the world has to prevent.

So, here we have the denial of Jewish nationhood (however you define that term), legitimised by an Israeli Jewish writer; the ommission of the Holocaust and all other antisemitism as a previous or current motive for Jews to emigrate to Israel; and a very deliberate warning that this “may yet turn to the final solution” – all by a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany.

Phil Katz, author of Freedom From Tyranny – Against Fascism And The Falsification Of History wrote to voice his concerns. His letter of 8 November was accurately titled

‘Final solution’ is not a term for casual use’

It noted

…George Abendstern (M Star November 5) plumbs new depths with his reference to an Israeli “final solution.”

…In [my book] I show what a “final solution” really is, while Mr Abendstern uses the term without a shred of evidence.

…the Prague Declaration Movement…uses historical revisionism, anti-communism and Holocaust denial and specialises in using terms such as “genocide” and “final solution” in a way which deliberately obscures their meaning….to erase the outcomes of Nuremberg by saying that the Soviet Union conducted “final solutions” in the Ukraine and Poland.

…The aim is to gut such specific terms of all meaning so that the real culprits go free and in order to confuse the young and those who want to oppose capitalism.

…We import its terminology and tactics of obfuscation into our pantheon of things to throw against Israel – and presumably other reactionaries – at our peril.

George Abendstern’s partner, Linda Clair, (also Jewish and a long standing anti-Zionist activist) responded in the next day’s paper. This time, the Morning Star didn’t beat about the bush with airy-fairy phrases such as “Final Solution”. Instead, (despite Clair not actually using the term) it saw fit to cut to the heart of the matter and abuse the Holocaust, titling Clair’s letter as

Israeli road could lead to a holocaust

To be semantic, Israel’s road would not lead to The Holocaust – that real Holocaust, after all, is already taken - no, Israel’s road “could” (not would) lead to “a holocaust”. Clair’s letter was along similar lines, but of course without the gut wrench of the holocaust sucker punch. Clair cited two Israelis, Ilan Pappe and Gideon Levy, and then got down to “final solution” business, premised upon her partner’s Jewish refugee identity

…The Israelis have massacred many thousands of Palestinians since 1947 and continue to do so.

If knowingly bombing populated areas with white phosphorus does not stem from the same mentality as the gas chambers did I would like to know the difference.

Methods of mass killing have moved on since 1945. The effect is the same.

…Mr Abendstern (M Star November 5) was born in Germany in 1930 and is not unfamiliar with the term “final solution.”

His commitment to justice for the Palestinians and his understanding of zionism mean he knows only too well where the Israeli road could lead if the world stands silently by.

Then, on 18 November, two more letters. One, from Roger Fletcher, accused Phil Katz of

pedantry and sectarianism against a valued Palestine activist

…It is patently obvious and is in fact documented that zionism aims to exterminate the Palestinian people.

Note, Fletcher states “exterminate”. This is no longer about colonialism or imperialism, dispossession and replacement. It has degenerated to being about extermination. It is not that Israel’s actions “could lead to a holocaust”: it is, rather, that “Zionism aims to exterminate the Palestinian people”. (Indeed, this is allegedly “patently obvious” and “in fact documented”.)  

George Abendstern now also uses the “H” word: but in a manner that suggests he understands its importance, had deliberately refrained from previously doing so, but has now been provoked beyond all patience 

Phil Katz (M Star November 10) writes about all things except the matter in hand – the brutal and genocidal colonisation of Palestine.

…I would urge Mr Katz to turn to his history books.

Long before the nazis coined the phrase “final solution” the zionists at their 1897 Basel conference made no secret of what they had in mind for the Palestinians.

Had they had the means they would by their own admission have finished them off in 1948.

What the zionists are presently undertaking is slow strangulation.

…Finally Mr Katz obviously has a problem with the term “final solution.”

Fine by me – shall we call it a “holocaust” instead?

Abendstern’s letter is bad enough in its own right, but the Morning Star sees fit to degrade the exchange even further, because this is what it chose to entitle as

Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians

Of course, Abendstern’s letter says nothing about smiling Israeli conscripts happily herding Palestinians into gas chambers. If, however, the Morning Star is unable to empathise with Jewish perspectives on Holocaust abuse, they could consider the catastrophic destruction wrought by the Nazis’ hatred of communism and socialism, including the fact that the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were initially tested upon 600 Soviet prisoners-of war and 250 sick Poles.

(The originally intended blog post, a summary of the Abuse of the Holocaust section from CST’s Discourse Report will follow in coming days.)

CST Discourse Report: Gaza Conflict and UK Antisemitic Discourse

November 18th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

(This is the 4th in a series of sections and summaries from CST’s recently released report, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009. The full pdf can be accessed here. 58 pages, including graphics. The below pages, 18 and 19, can be accessed here.)

The Gaza conflict in December 2008 / January 2009 excited a wave of fury and scrutiny from many political activists and some mainstream circles. The conflict triggered more antisemitic attacks in the UK than any other single event in recent memory.

Anti-Israel discourse during the Gaza conflict included distinct echoes of far older antisemitic themes that may not be deliberate on the part of their proponents, but can still have antisemitic consequences.

Antisemitic incident levels were wholly unprecedented during the Gaza conflict and did not subside to pre-conflict levels until May. In total, more antisemitic incidents occurred in the first six months of 2009 than in any entire year previously on record.

Longer lasting political and social negative impacts against mainstream Jewish communities derive from Israel being treated as a racist pariah state; and by some as a new Nazi Germany.

Resonance and Reinforcement of Antisemitism

Jews were not the target of media scrutiny of Israel or demonstrations against Israel. Indeed, Jews played full roles in both the media scrutiny and anti-Israel demonstrations. Nevertheless, some of the news coverage, and much of the public demonstrations, echoed the following deeply rooted antisemitic motifs and themes:

  • Jews are intrinsically evil and set against the rest of humanity
  • Jews are bloodthirsty and kill innocents: children in particular
  • Jews are vindictive

These themes, directed against Israel and Zionists, rather than Jews per se, culminated in a contemporary antisemitic charge:

  • Israel is the new Nazi Germany

The Israel-Nazi Germany comparison is directly hurtful and damaging to Jews. Those who make the comparison want to shock and enrage their audience.

The Nazi charge appeared repeatedly on anti-Israel demonstrations: made by organisers, speakers and demonstrators. It takes the Holocaust away from Jews and replaces Palestinians as its victims…  

Furthermore, allegations in both mainstream media and anti-Israel demonstrations implied that pro-Israel or Zionist lobbies were ensuring that the USA did not stop the Gaza conflict; and similarly preventing meaningful intervention from Britain. It was also implied that the BBC’s refusal to show a charity appeal for Gaza was due to this same pressure. Taken together, this echoed three widespread and interlocking Jewish conspiracy themes:

  • Jewish conspiracy controls politicians
  • Jewish conspiracy controls the media
  • Jewish conspiracy facilitates wars against non-Jews

The overwrought claim that the defeat of Israel and/or Zionism holds the key to bringing about a new, fair and better world was repeatedly seen at anti-Israel demonstrations. This echoed the motivation of antisemitism throughout the ages, namely: 

  • Jews must be defeated in order to save the world

All of this adds to the complexity surrounding what responsibility lies with commentators and activists when Israel and/or Zionism is being discussed; and how this responsibility should reflect the (hotly disputed) reality of both Israel’s actions and those of its Jewish supporters. 

At the very least, influential critics of Israel should know the volatility of the subject matter. Accordingly, their language should be precise and should avoid being open to easy interpretation as supporting deeply ingrained antisemitic notions about Jews. 

Antisemitic Impacts of Media and Public Discourse

A small number of antisemitic incidents[1], including those summarised below, made direct reference to mainstream media discourse about the Gaza war. (This demonstrates that antisemitism may be sparked by such material. It is not to allege that the media discourse cited was in any way illegitimate or antisemitic.)

A Jewish organisation in London received an email reading: “Just watching the report on Gaza, on the BBC. The hatred for your people that didn’t exist before certainly exists now…The next Jew I see, I will spit in his face.” (This was sent during a BBC Panorama documentary on Gaza.)

Several Jewish organisations received hate-mail featuring a cartoon from The Times about the Gaza war with writing on it: “God will curse the filthy YIDS, They kill our Wives, they kill our KIDS! Steal our Land, Bomb our houses to BITS, God won’t forgive the Israeli GESTAPO SHITS.” (The photocopies of the cartoon had further handwriting down the side, reading “THE JEWBOY IDEA OF A FAIR FIGHT”, and then listing the supposed relative military strengths of Israel and Hamas.)      

The head of a Jewish organisation received a telephone text reading:  “u fuckin jew u r dead I know u live” (sic). The caller then phoned directly and held the phone to his/her television, which was playing a news report of events in Gaza (4 January 2009).

Rowan Laxton, a senior diplomat at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was heard to shout “F**king Israelis, f**king Jews” whilst exercising in a gym and watching a news report from Gaza.

——— 

[1] Of the 924 antisemitic incidents recorded by CST during 2009, 23% included the perpetrator making a reference to Gaza. It is clear that the conflict had a profound impact on the level and nature of antisemitic incidents during 2009. This is detailed in CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2009 a full pdf of which can be accessed here. (35 pages including graphics.)

CST Discourse Report: Zionism and anti-Zionism

November 17th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

(This is the 3rd in a series of sections and summaries from CST’s recently released report, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009. The full pdf can be accessed here. 58 pages, including graphics.)

Pages 13-16 of the Report explain aspects of Zionism and anti-Zionism relevant to antisemitism. (They can be accessed here.) As with the preceding section, What is Antisemitism? this section obviously summarises a far larger subject.

It begins with

British Jews: Relationship with Israel and Zionism

The multiple dynamics between antisemitism, anti-Israel activity and “anti-Zionism” are fundamental to the nature, content and impact of contemporary British antisemitism; and to the concerns of British Jews.

There is then a short mention of “repeated criticism and outright hostility” directed against Israel by “relatively large sections of the liberal-left”. The report continues

British Jews hold varying perspectives on the legitimacy and motivation of this behaviour: ranging from those who play a leading part in the anti-Israel activity, to those who regard anti-Israel actions as antisemitic per se.

…CST (and other UK Jewish bodies) do not believe that it is necessarily antisemitic to criticise Jews, Israel or Zionism, even if that criticism is harsh or unfair. Antisemitism is, however, a form of racist and political activism. Because of its nature, antisemitism thrives upon criticism of Jews, Israel and Zionism, regardless of how fair or unfair that criticism happens to be.

Criticism of Israel or Zionism is not antisemitic per se, but it risks becoming so when traditional antisemitic themes are employed or echoed. This commonly occurs when the word “Zionist” or “Israeli” is employed where “Jew” would have previously appeared.

Calls for the actual destruction of Israel or “Zionism” transcend both criticism and hostility. Such incitement may not be regarded as antisemitic by its proponents; but if they were to succeed, it would be profoundly harmful to the morale and self-identity of many British Jews.”

The following three pages begin with 

Anti-Zionism: A Unifying Language for Different Political Extremists

The corruption and debasement of the word “Zionism” in both extremist and mainstream circles is central to contemporary antisemitic discourse.

…To many self-described “anti-Zionists”, the word “Zionist” now resonates as a political, financial, military and media conspiracy that is centred in Washington and Jerusalem, and which opposes authentic local interests. Many “anti-Zionists” believe themselves to be sincerely opposed to antisemitism, but extreme definitions of “Zionism” echo previous antisemitic beliefs about ‘the Jews’.

Worse still, the prejudices of conscious antisemites are reinforced by the ever-evolving anti-Zionist lexicon…This discourse encourages antisemites, many of whom take expressions such as “pro-Israel” or “well-financed” to be coded public expressions for their own publicly restricted opinions.”

Three sub-sections then follow, on anti-racism and the antisemitic continuities and impacts of anti-Zionism. These include the following

Lessons from anti-racism

Israel’s critics should limit the antisemitic content and impact of their behaviour by utilising basic principles of anti-racism…avoid inflammatory catch-all terms such as “Israel’s supporters” and “Zionists” – both of which can be easily understood to mean most Jews, but are frequently used in a demonising and dehumanising manner…avoid replicating older antisemitic narratives and themes in modern guise. Furthermore, anti-Israel actions such as boycotts should at least be acknowledged by their proponents as activities that will genuinely concern and  isolate many Jews.

…Continuities between antisemitism and anti-Zionism

There are numerous continuities between historical antisemitic themes and modern anti-Zionism. These include

  • Alleging that Jewish holy books preach Jewish supremacy and that this is the basis for alleged Zionist racism.
  • The image of the shadowy, powerful “Zionist” repeats the antisemitic charge that Jews are only loyal to each other…secretly conspire to control media, economy and government for their nefarious ends.
  • Historically, Jewish converts to…Christianity, nationalism or communism had to show that they had cast off their ‘Jewishness’. Today, some people…expect Jews to declare their attitude to Israel before they will treat them decently…
  • Dehumanising antisemitic language comparing Jews to rats, cancer, plague and bacteria is now repeated in some depictions of Israel and Zionists…encouraging the notion that ‘cleansing’ or ‘extermination’ must occur.
  • Scapegoating Jews…for local and global problems; and demanding their destruction or conversion as a vital step in the building of a new, better world is  echoed in the notion that Zionism is uniquely illegitimate; and that the destruction of Israel is paradigmatic of theological and political struggles for the future of the world
  • The image of Jews as alien corrupters of traditional, authentic society…[and] values survives in contemporary portrayals of pro-Israel lobbyists…persists in some mainstream UK media depictions of American pro-Israel lobbyists.

Antisemitic impacts of anti-Zionism

Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist discourse, especially from the liberal-left, media, charities and trade unions may not in any way be inspired by antisemitism. Indeed, these activists may specifically warn against the danger of antisemitic outcomes…they understand that hostile discourse about Israel and Zionism can – however inadvertently – have antisemitic impacts. Nevertheless, otherwise sincere anti-racists sometimes adopt, echo or condone antisemitic positions that are ostensibly fostered by their hostility to Israel and Zionism…

[Antisemitic impacts of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist discourse are then listed as] including:

  • British Jews…fall victim to antisemitic race hate attacks over international events that are blamed upon Israel and/or Zionsts…
  • Providing concealment, encouragement and self-legitimisation for antisemites
  • Depicting the Jewish state as a uniquely racist or imperialist enterprise serves to threaten, isolate, and demonise all those who believe that Jews have a right to statehood…
  • The fostering of a reflexive hatred, fear, suspicion or bias against Jews…prejudicially treated due to their supposed support for Israel or Zionism.
  • Extreme hostility to mainstream Jewish representative bodies that actively support Israel.
  • The use of “Zionist” as a pejorative description…such as the “Zionist Jewish Chronicle” or the “Zionist CST”…then maltreated for being allegedly Zionist, rather than properly engaged with…
  • Contemporary antisemitism is judged by its utility to Zionism and is reacted to on that basis…widespread contempt for mainstream Jewish concerns…No other minority’s concerns about hate crime are treated so harshly…Similarly, Holocaust commemoration is sometimes judged by its utility to Zionism…
  •  Employing anti-Israel rhetoric or actions specifically because they have unique resonance for Jews…[eg] comparing Israel to Nazi Germany…academic boycott of Israel on the basis that education is a particularly Jewish trait.
  • Enacting anti-Israel activities, especially boycotts, that inevitably impact against local Jews far more than any other  sector of society.

(Next in this series of articles: Gaza Conflict and UK Antisemitic Discourse)

Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism

November 16th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Last week saw the second conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, held in Ottawa and attended by parliamentarians and experts from over 50 countries and six continents, including representatives of CST.

The conference ended with the adoption of the Ottawa Protocol, reproduced in full below, to build on the work of last year’s London Declaration (pdf).

The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism

 Preamble

We, Representatives of our respective Parliaments from across the world, convening in Ottawa for the second Conference and Summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, note and reaffirm the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism as a template document for the fight against antisemitism.

We are concerned that, since the London Conference in February 2009, there continues to be a dramatic increase in recorded antisemitic hate crimes and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, and Jewish religious, educational and communal institutions.

We remain alarmed by ongoing state-sanctioned genocidal antisemitism and related extremist ideologies. If antisemitism is the most enduring of hatreds, and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of the genocidal intent embodied in antisemitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations.

We are appalled by the resurgence of the classic anti-Jewish libels, including:

-       The Blood Libel (that Jews use the blood of children for ritual sacrifice)

-       The Jews as “Poisoners of the Wells” – responsible for all evils in the world

-       The myth of the “new Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – the tsarist forgery that proclaimed an international Jewish conspiracy bent on world domination – and accuses the Jews of controlling government, the economy, media and public institutions.

-       The double entendre of denying the Holocaust – accusing the Jews of fabricating the Holocaust as a hoax – and the nazification of the Jew and the Jewish people.

We are alarmed by the explosion of antisemitism and hate on the Internet, a medium crucial for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, freedom of information, and the participation of civil society.

We are concerned over the failure of most OSCE participating states to fully implement provisions of the 2004 Berlin Declaration, including the commitment to:

“Collect and maintain reliable information and statistics about antisemitic crimes, and other hate crimes, committed within their territory, report such information periodically to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and make this information available to the public.”

We are concerned by the reported incidents of antisemitism on campuses, such as acts of violence, verbal abuse, rank intolerance, and assaults on those committed to free inquiry, while undermining fundamental academic values.

We renew our call for national Governments, Parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of antisemitism and all forms of discrimination.

We reaffirm the EUMC – now Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – working definition of antisemitism, which sets forth that:

“Contemporary examples of antisemitism 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:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively – the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy, or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • 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.

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 endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.

However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Let it be clear: Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, and saying so is wrong. But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium – let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction – is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.

Members of Parliament meeting in Ottawa commit to:

  • Calling on our Governments to uphold international commitments on combating antisemitism – such as the OSCE Berlin Principles – and to engage with the United Nations for that purpose. In the words of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “It is […] rightly said that the United Nations emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust. And a Human Rights agenda that fails to address antisemitism denies its own history”;
  • Calling on Parliaments and Governments to adopt the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism and anchor its enforcement in existing law;
  • Encouraging countries throughout the world to establish mechanisms for reporting and monitoring on domestic and international antisemitism, along the lines of the “Combating Antisemitism Act of 2010” recently introduced in the United States Congress;
  • Encouraging the leaders of all religious faiths – represented also at this Conference – to use all means possible to combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred and discrimination;
  • Calling on the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies to make the combating of hatred and antisemitism a priority in their work;
  • Calling on Governments and Parliamentarians to reaffirm and implement the Genocide Convention, recognising that where there is incitement to genocide, State parties have an obligation to act;
  • Working with universities to encourage them to combat antisemitism with the same seriousness with which they confront other forms of hate.  Specifically, universities should be invited to define antisemitism clearly, provide specific examples, and enforce conduct codes firmly, while ensuring compliance with freedom of speech and the principle of academic freedom.  Universities should use the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism as a basis for education, training and orientation. Indeed, there should be zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind against anyone in the university community on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or political position;
  • We encourage the European Union to promote civic education and open society in its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and to link funding to democratic development and respect for Human Rights in ENP partner countries;
  • Establishing an International Task Force of Internet specialists comprised of parliamentarians and experts to create common indicators to identify and monitor antisemitism and other manifestations of hate online and to develop policy recommendations for Governments and international frameworks to address these problems;
  • Building on the African representation at this Conference, to develop increased working relationships with parliamentarians in Africa for the combating of racism and antisemitism;
  • We urge the incoming OSCE Chair, Lithuania, to make implementation of these commitments a priority during 2011 and call for the reappointment of the Special Representatives to assist in this work.

 Ottawa big

CST Discourse Report: What is Antisemitism?

November 15th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

(This is the 2nd in a series of sections and summaries from CST’s recently released report, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009. The full pdf can be accessed here. 58 pages, including graphics.)

Pages 10, 11 and 12 are entitled What is Antisemitism? Definition, Impact, Historical Background. (They can be accessed here.) 

This vast subject is then summed up as

In essence, antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice or hostility against Jews.

Antisemitism is also used to describe all forms of discrimination, prejudice or hostility towards Jews throughout history.

Antisemitism focuses upon ‘the Jew’ of the antisemitic imagination, rather than the reality of Jews or Jewish life.

It is not necessarily antisemitic to criticise Israel or Zionism, even if the criticism is harsh or unfair. The antisemitic aspect largely depends upon:

• The motivation for the criticism: to what extent is the critic driven by the Jewish nature of Israel and/or Zionism?

• The form of the criticism: does it use antisemitic or otherwise racist themes and motifs? The more deliberate and/or inaccurate the usage, the more antisemitic the criticism.

• Who is the target for the criticism: are local Jews being singled out as recipients for criticism or bias that ostensibly derives from anti-Israel or anti-Zionist hostility?

 The report then explains Brian Klug’s notion of ‘The Jew’ of the antisemitic imagination, including

Thinking that Jews are really ‘Jews’ is precisely the core of antisemitism.

…Loyal only to their own, wherever they go they form a state within a state, preying upon the societies in whose midst they dwell. Their hidden hand controls the banks, the markets, and the media. And when revolutions occur  or nations go to war, it is the Jews – cohesive, powerful, clever and stubborn – who invariably pull the strings and reap the rewards.  

Next, the report explains Antisemitic impacts, noting

Antisemitic impacts may arise from entirely legitimate situations that have no antisemitic intention.

It explains that hate crime attacks can be sparked by legitimate media coverage or political comment, and that people

can feel vulnerable due to public debate on matters that they perceive as being closely related to them.

Then, a short section on Antisemitism: historical background. This includes

Antisemitism is an important warning sign of division and extremism within society as a whole. It is a subject that should be of concern not only to Jews, but to all of society.

The near destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust rendered open antisemitism taboo in public life, but led many to wrongly regard antisemitism as an exclusively Far Right phenomenon that is essentially frozen in time.

…Antisemitism repeatedly adapts to contemporary circumstances and historically has taken many forms…Jews have been blamed for many phenomena, including the death of Jesus; the Black Death; the advent of liberalism, democracy, communism, capitalism; and for inciting numerous revolutions and wars.

A dominant antisemitic theme is the allegation that Jews are powerful and cunning manipulators, set against the rest of society for their evil and timeless purpose…[this] distinguishes antisemitism from other types of racism, which often depict their targets as ignorant and primitive.

The report states the worrying situation around both antisemitic race hate levels and terrorist threats against Jews, before quoting the late Steve Cohen on the ideological component of antisemitism

The peculiar and defining feature of anti-semitism is that is exists as an ideology. It provides its adherents with a universal and generalised interpretation of the world. This is the theory of the Jewish conspiracy, which depicts Jews as historically controlling and determining nature and human destiny. Anti-semitism is an ideology which has influenced millions of people precisely because it presents an explanation of the world by attributing such extreme powers to its motive force – the Jews.

 This section of the report concludes with Antisemitism: legal definitions, Race Relations Act, and Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. It begins

The 2005-2006 All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism summarised antisemitism by reference to the Race Relations Act 1976 as follows:

Broadly…any remark, insult or act the purpose or effect of which is to violate a Jewish person’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him is antisemitic…This definition can be applied to individuals and to the Jewish community as a whole.

It ends with

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry definition of a racist incident has significantly influenced societal interpretations of what does and does not constitute racism, with the victim’s perception assuming paramount importance.

CST, however, ultimately defines incidents against Jews as being antisemitic only where it can be objectively shown to be the case…CST takes a similar approach to the highly complex issue of antisemitic discourse, and notes the multiplicity of opinions within and beyond the Jewish community concerning this controversial subject.

(Next, CST Blog will summarise the sections that follow the above, entitled British Jews: Relationship with Israel and Zionism; and Anti-Zionism: A Unifying Language for Different Politcial Extremists.)

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