Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

  • Given the rise in xenophobic hate crimes since the Brexit referendum, it is important to define xenophobic hate where it extends beyond race.
  • The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has published an imprecise definition of anti-Semitism that is accompanied with examples that would censor political speech about the Government of Israel and pro-Israel lobby groups.
  • While adopting institutions caveat their adoption of the definition that it is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Government of Israel without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent, and that it is not anti-Semitic to hold the Israeli government to the same standard as other democracies, the caveats do not make it clear that the IHRA’s examples accompanying its definition are not anti-Semitic, but just measures to censor legitimate political speech.
  • The All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir and All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims is now using the IHRA template definition of anti-Semitism to define Islamophobia. The definition suffers similar and additional problems.
  • The following are dangerous problems that the definitions and their accompanying examples beget:
    • To the extent that the concept of ‘race’ is a legitimate one, Islam is not a race. Religion is not intrinsic. Therefore Islamophobia is not racism.
    • IHRA example 6/APPG example 5: It would be anti-Semitic/Islamophobic to state that nationals are more loyal to the interests of Israel/the Ummah than to their own nation, if it can be demonstrated that they are, as is probably the case with Shamima Begum. Rahm Emanuel, who has written that it is anti-Semitic to do this, decided to volunteer with the Israel Defence Force during the first Gulf War, rather than with the US armed forces.
    • IHRA example 7: It would be inferred as anti-Semitic to claim as racist the following minority call for the establishment of Israel on Palestinian land as expressed by Israel Zangwill in 1901: “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country.”
    • APPG example 6: Denying Palestine or Kashmir a right to self-determination may not be based on Islamophobia, but rather on misguided political judgment.

Recommendations:

  • Hate against Jews and against Muslims should be defined in precisely and parsimoniously, excluding things that are not hate against them and including things that are. Therefore, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia should be defined respectively as
    • ‘hostility or prejudice against Jews’.
    • ‘hostility or prejudice against Muslims’.
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