Before endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of anti-Semitism, politicians in Australia and other western countries should consider the implications for the rights of Palestinians.
In public discourse, examples of anti-Semitism are numerous, but a search for illustrations of prejudice towards Palestine and Palestinians yields almost nothing. To fill this vacuum, and to hinder the rush to endorse the poorly conceived International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, a statement of anti-Palestinianism is desperately needed.
Controversy over anti-Semitism
In many countries, political parties and individual politicians are urged to endorse the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. There is even a motion before a forthcoming NSW Labor party conference that this IHRA definition be supported, otherwise the party could be considered anti-Semitic.
This definition says that anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews, but questions as to what is meant by “certain perception” or by “hatred”, are ignored. Instead, pressures to comply with that definition ensure the continuation of uncritical assumptions about anti-Semitism.
Barrister Geoffrey Robertson concluded that the IHRA definition was “imprecise, confusing, open to misinterpretation and manipulation”. The prominent US scholar Norman Finkelstein judged the document ‘”n impoverished, ignorant, slovenly substitute for rational dialectic”.