JVL Introduction

In a letter published in the Guardian, a group of prominent Jewish academics and others call for clarity about what constitutes antisemitism

Antisemitic campaign against Soros in Hungary. Photo: European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism


We must define antisemitism to fight it effectively

 

There are disturbing signs round the world that age-old prejudices against Jews are reviving once more. We need to be clear in recognising them, and resolute in dealing with them. A precondition for fighting antisemitism effectively is clarity about what it is, and what it is not. Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice or hostility against us because we are Jews. It is a form of racism. It may be manifested in violence, denial of rights, discriminatory acts, prejudice-based behaviour, verbal or written statements, negative stereotypes or scapegoating. Holocaust denial, the blood libel, conspiracy theories about supposed Jewish power or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide – all are expressions of antisemitism.

Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic unless motivated by anti-Jewish prejudice. Examples of this can include: holding all Jews accountable for the actions of the state of Israel; engaging in conspiracy theories about the state of Israel that draw on antisemitic stereotypes about supposed Jewish power; accusing all Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nations. Criticism of Israel, of its displacement of Palestinians and of its denial of their rights, is not antisemitic. Criticising laws and policies of the state of Israel as racist and as falling under the definition of apartheid is not antisemitic. Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to oppose those policies is not antisemitic.

We call upon all public bodies and other organisations to apply these principles in addressing antisemitism within their own organisations and when challenging it within wider society.

Geoffrey Bindman
Ben Birnberg
DBA Epstein
Stephan Feuchtwang
Harvey Goldstein
Brian Klug
Peter Kosminsky
Mike Leigh
Malcolm Levitt
Moshe Machover
Miriam Margolyes
David Mond
Susie Orbach
Laurance Pearl
Jacqueline Rose
Steven Rose
Michael Rosen
Douglas Ross
Donald Sassoon
Alexei Sayle
Justin Schlosberg
Lynne Segal
Avi Shlaim
Gillian Slovo
Annabelle Sreberny
John S Yudkin
Nira Yuval-Davis