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 been promoting 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.
    • Example 1: It would be anti-Semitic by the IHRA’s list of examples to state that nationals are more loyal to the interests of Israel than to their own nation, if it can be demonstrated that they are.
    • Example 2: It could be inferred as anti-Semitic by the IHRA’s list of examples to claim as racist the following minority view as expressed by Israel Zangwill in 1901: “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country.
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • It is not Islamophobic to accuse a Muslim citizen of being more loyal to the Ummah or their country of origin if it can be shown that in fact they are, as is the case with Shamima Begum.
    • 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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