Javelin Media launches its first slingshot

Javelin Media is a new independent platform for progressive left anti-racist thinkers and activists.

Its aim is to create and host films and visual slingshots which enlighten, persuade and entertain as well as building and broadening alliances with other radical antiracist groups and individuals.

It welcome submissions of appropriate visual and audio material.

Gavin Williamson, Tory Education Secretary, says he’s going to cut funding to universities if they don’t adopt the notorious IHRA definition of ‘antisemitism’ by Christmas.

He says it clarifies antisemitism. But senior judges and scholars of antisemitism say, on the contrary, the definition lacks clarity. It confuses antisemitism with criticism of Israel, and it suppresses freedom of expression.

Is he responding to pressure from the US and Israel? Is it a way of pleasing the new Israeli ambassador? Or by focusing on antisemitism, is the government trying to deflect attention from Black Lives Matter and islamophobia and racism in its own ranks?

It also fits with the new edict instructing schools to cut criticisms of capitalism from their teaching.

Is all this really about protecting Jews from antisemitism?

Or is it a way of controlling insubordinate universities and silencing left-wing views and culture? Of censoring free speech?

Is antisemitism being weaponised AGAIN?


Comments (8)

  • Terry Messenger says:

    The IHRA code discriminates against diaspora Jews. Therefore it is anti-semitic in its own terms. It prohibits: “using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-semetism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” Thus it gives specific protection to Israelis, which it denies to Jews in the diaspora – and generations of Jews prior to the establishment of Israel.

    Trying to figure out why, it dawned on me that the biggest anti-semitic trope of all is Christianity – arguably. This being Christmas, it’s not very seasonal to say so. But the Gospels do tell a factually questionable story about Jewish elders calling on Pontius Pilate to sentence Jesus to a horrible death. A Jewish mob then refuses to pardon Jesus and demands the release of murderer Barabbas instead. In Matthew’s Gospel, the Jewish crowd accepts responsibility crying out: “His blood be on us and our children.”

    Speaking as a tribal Catholic this is very troubling. Allegedly there are a total of 450 anti-semitic passages in the Gospels. There is an obvious case for the Church authorities to expunge them all.

    This would provoke the ire of right-wing gentile nationalists and Christian fundamentalists, however. Thus the IHRA code is worded to give protection from blame for Christ-killing only to modern Israelis. And the Jews of the Gospels, pre-Israel Jews, and diaspora Jews receive no such protection.

    I think advocates of the IHRA disciplinary code do not want to pick a fight with the Christian establishment and its right-wing political allies by prohibiting key passages in the Gospels, which characterize Jews as Christ killers. That’s why the IHRA provision refers to images rather than texts and Israelis rather than Jews. This is understandable but inconsistent.

  • Geoff Rouse says:

    Those who control education control the future. This is only a step away from teaching propaganda by other means.

  • Jan millar says:

    I am very concerned about the agenda of silencing criticism of Israel and the erosion of free speech

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Here’s my letter printed in the Oxford Times ten days ago:
    It is reported – or rather under-reported – that Cambridge University has adopted the “International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism”. Let’s hope Oxford doesn’t follow suit.
    The Cambridge move seems to have been made to appease the Education Secretary, Gavin ‘Bungler-Boy’ Williamson, the man who couldn’t get his A-levels right. A month ago Williamson wrote to vice-chancellors of UK universities “asking” them – his term not mine – to adopt this contentious definition.
    But the headmasterly tones at the outset of the letter – “I am frankly disappointed…I am surprised etc.” – by the end of the letter take on a more sinister mobster-like edge: “I have asked my officials to consider options that include directing the OfS (Office for Students) to impose a new regulatory condition of registration and suspending funding streams for universities….” – in other words, abolishing you. We have all seen it in films: a shopkeeper is reluctant to accede to the gangster’s ‘offer’, so the latter says, “It’d be a pity if an accidental fire started here.” If you can’t win the argument, you resort to threats.
    Why should universities reject the IHRA document? Because it’s not fit for purpose as several eminent QCs have already argued. Not only QCs – its original drafter, Kenneth Stern, says so: “It was created primarily (for) European data collectors. …It was never intended to be a campus hate speech code.” He labelled Tump’s executive order imposing the definition, “an attack on academic freedom and free speech, (something that) will harm not only pro-Palestinian advocates, but also Jewish students and faculty…”
    Misrepresentation does not stop here: according to Williamson, “The government adopted the IHRA definition in 2016.” Not so: the government adopted the IHRA core definition but not the accompanying examples. These are mentioned in the Secretary of State’s letter only by this gnomic reference, tucked in at the end of a paragraph: “(alongside examples)”.
    But Williamson knows that it is precisely these examples – most referring to Israel – that have given rise to much heated debate.
    Its real aim of the “working definition” is two-fold. Firstly, to freeze radical criticism of Israel and deny any debate concerning the fundamental nature of that state and secondly, since those making such criticisms are almost exclusively drawn from the left of the political spectrum, to both isolate and suppress this strand of opinion. Some of the IHRA’s champions are more interested in the first of these objectives, others, like Williamson and the Labour leadership, are more interested in the second.
    Universities have a long way to go to make them effective protectors of women, of ethnic minorities and other “protected categories”. That was made clear by the recent EHRC report on universities, but privileging Jewish students who support Israel by introducing an ideologically motivated and highly contentious “definition” won’t help.
    Of course, it would be heartening to think that the party of Thatcher who supported the criminalisation of the opposition to apartheid, created the hostile environment that led to the Windrush scandal and that is currently stepping deportations has suddenly become seriously anti-racist. But I have my doubts.

  • John Bowley says:

    Yes, ‘antisemitism’ is constantly being weaponised to shield Israel from all criticism of its colonialist and racist activities against indigenous people.

    Yes, it is obvious that all other forms of racism in Britain, which are usually far more serious and oppressive, are being subordinated to ‘antisemitism’.

  • Kevin Rafter says:

    Two questions.
    “Criticisms of capitalism”… isn’t capitalism that system that failed in 2007? And, is there a tipping point? How much theft and murder can Israel get away with before antisemitism becomes morally defensible?

  • Ian Hickinbottom says:

    Re Terry.

    Catholicism and Christianity is rife with Judeaphobic references. It also manifests itself in Christian art. Michelangelo railed against this refusing to conform with much of his work due to one of his patrons being of the Jewish faith.

  • Kuhnberg says:

    I remember a performance of the York Mystery Plays when the role of Christ was taken by the blonde-haired conventionally European Simon Ward. The Jewish elders were played by black-bearded men, some of whom were in fact Jewish. This casting created an uncomfortable resonance with certain antisemitic themes in the plays — themes that would have been taken for granted by their original medieval audience.

    The long history of antisemitism in our culture makes it all too easy for people unfamiliar with the topic to stumble into what look like antisemitic tropes, but to purge such elements from the plays would mean distorting the text and sanitizing the true nature of western medieval civilization. Christ himself is a Jewish character who has been hijacked by Western civilization to the extent that his Jewish heritage has been all but erased. These are all terribly problematic issues, rendered even more problematic by the efforts of some groups to weaponize accusations of antisemitism both in order to demonize socialists and as a way of deflecting criticism from the actions of the government of Israel. The issue of Israel has now been rendered so toxic that it is impossible openly to debate it in a public forum. Even channel 4’s brief segment on the experiences of British-born Palestinians has come under fire from some Jewish groups.

    Under other circumstances we might use theatre as a way of explaining the conflict to the wider public, but that too would mean courting controversy and hurt feelings. In fifty years’ time our collective inability honestly to confront an issue of such enormity will look like willful blindness, which is of course no defense in law, however commonly it features in everyday life.

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