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European Council. Manipulations around the necessary fight against anti-Semitism

Translated Thursday 20 December 2018, by Henry Crapo

Published in l’Humanité on Thursday, December 13, 2018

Under the guise of combating anti-Semitism, the declaration presented to the European Council is in fact intended to criminalise any criticism of Israel.

Benyamin Netanyahu continues to court the extreme European right. He visited Viktor Orban in Hungary, maintains the best relations with the FPÖ in Austria and has just received, in Israel, Matteo Salvini, the very sovereignist, populist and identity-prone vice-president of the Italian Council, who likes to consider that the European Union’s policy is "unbalanced (...) in its management of the Middle East conflict, condemning and sanctioning Israel every fifteen minutes" (sic).

At the same time, the European Council, which brings together today and tomorrow the Heads of State and the Government of the European Union, is preparing to endorse a "declaration to strengthen the fight against anti-Semitism and the protection of Jewish communities in Europe". The fight against anti-Semitism is obviously necessary, but it is also necessary to introduce legal definitions that effectively eradicate or punish anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, this is something entirely different.

The Boycott campaign, disinvestment, sanctions in the crosshairs

For several years now, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), close to Israeli settlers, has been trying to get its definition of anti-Semitism adopted in order to silence Israel’s critics. When they failed to do so, they turned to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) - an intergovernmental body promoting Holocaust remembrance, whose mission is not this - with two targets: the Member States and the European Union. However, this definition - on the basis of the text presented to the European Council - is more than vague. Certainly, it states: "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which can be expressed through hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed against Jewish or non-Jewish persons and/or their property, against institutions of the Jewish community or their religious places. " But, in reality, it only serves to introduce examples which, although presented as non-binding, frame the real purpose. The introduction to these examples thus states that "manifestations of anti-Semitism may include targeting the State of Israel".

"This is a definition against which, in France, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme (CNCDH), in its annual report published in May 2018, took a clear position", reminds the Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), which is also addressing Emmanuel Macron for the European Council to state "clearly that the highly controversial "examples" associated with the IHRA definition of antisemitism are not part of the declaration". In June 2017, in the European Parliament, the members of the GUE and the Greens/EFA were the only ones to vote against the resolution presented, while dozens of personalities in France (including Rony Brauman, Shlomo Sand and Dominique Vidal) signed a call entitled "No to the instrumentalization of the fight against antisemitism".

If this declaration were adopted as it stands at the European Council, any criticism of Israel could become illegal. In the United Kingdom, which has already adopted this definition, many university conferences have been cancelled. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign is obviously in the gunsights of the promoters of this offensive who, under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism, have only one goal: to criminalize those who denounce the Israeli occupation and colonization. As a reminder, the European Commission’s "interpretative note" on the labelling of colonial products of November 2015 was described as anti-Semitic by Benyamin Netanyahu!

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