Email shows The Independent got it wrong on Antisemitism working definition

Recently we posted about a peculiar essay about the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism at The Independent, written by a journalist who’s admitted to being prejudiced against Jews.  Though you can read our post to see several of her erroneous claims about antisemitism, and Israel more broadly, we recently were provided evidence which refutes one specific claim made in the article – that the EU retired the Working Definition.

indy headline

First, here’s the EUMC Working Definition:

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Despite Bar-Hillel’s enthusiastic suggestion that the Working Definition was retired, which she claimed (per the Livingstone Formulation), served to allow Jews to stifle the free speech of Israel’s critics, we pointed to the following facts:

  • In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
  • An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

Recently, a CiF Watch reader forwarded us her email exchange with a representative from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – the successor agency to the EUMC (European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia). 

email 1

Now, here’s the FRA reply:

email 2

The next time a commentator hostile to Jews or Israel claims that the EU “retired” or “repudiated” the EUMC Working Definition, you can definitively respond that their Fundamental Rights Agency – per their own words – did nothing of the sort.  

As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, the Working Definition is not law.  

However, it does represent a widely respected and practical guide (formulated by NGOs and reps from the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination section of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in 2005) used by law enforcement agencies and human rights bodies in the EU to help determine what constitutes anti-Jewish racism. 

Those committed to defending the fundamental human rights of Jews would be wise to follow their lead. 

27 replies »

  1. The Independent should be ashamed, not only of the article by the ridiculous Bar Hillel but also of the glaring error in its (correct spelling) headline.

    • I doubt that any rag which publishes such arrant nonsense has the insight to see how it may be regarded or has the capability to feel ashamed.

      Well done, Adam, for a good article.

      As for Mira Bar Hillel ….

    • The fact that it’s not on the FRA website doesn’t change the fact that it’s still used by EU law enforcement and human rights agencies, per some of the bullet points I provided. (It’s also used by the US State Dep’t). In other words, its “status” is valid as long as such agencies consider it valid, and there’s no evidence that it’s in danger of being “retired”.

      • I absolutely agree.

        What I found more objectionable (i.e. than saying “retired” as opposed to “taken offline”, although obviously there’s a big difference) in Bar Hillel’s article was her reference to the recent Bedouin resettlement issue. In your article back then you rightly highlighted her suspicion that the dearth (yeah, right!) of media coverage could be accounted to the working definition!

  2. I am curious as to Bar Hillel’s definition of anti-Semitsm, if she offered one. For example, does it mean that she must be physically attacked by a gang of youths screaming at her about being Jewish, and perhaps beating her? Or. perhaps, not being permitted to enter a certain place because she is Jewish?

    What line would she draw between good old every day verbal, physical or social violence that could happen to anyone and the same directed at her because she is Jewish?

    • To be fair, she says she agrees with almost all the points cited in the working definition.
      On the one aspect she does take issue with, however (regarding different standards for Israel), she goes totally over the top.

  3. <a href = ""The good new-old Europe:
    A Norwegian trade union repeated an age-old anti-Semitic canard to its membership, telling the 340,000 workers of the Union of Municipal and General Employees who receive its monthly magazine that Israel poisons wells of its Arab neighbors.
    The EU bureaucracy can shove their definitions up into their collective Jew-hating asses.

  4. You only realise how relevant and vital it is when full on antisemites such as Ben White get a hard on by its ‘ retirement ‘

  5. Mira Bar-Hillel claimed in her piece that the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism “allowed all those who criticise Israel – including myself – to be labelled anti-Semitic” when in fact, the Working Definition specifically stated: “Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” Antisemites like Bar-Hillel seek to discredit this definition by mispresenting it.

    By its legal mandate, the FRA (the successor to the EUMC) is not a standard setting body, so it simply does not define antisemitism. This does not give license to anti-Zionists to draw “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of Nazis,” which the Working Definition classified as antisemitic. The FRA recently published a survey of European Jews, in which they found that “eight in 10 respondents consider the following statements antisemitic: ‘Israelis behave “like Nazis” towards Palestinians’ (81 %).” In contrast, only 34% of respondents consider criticizing Israel to be antisemitic:
    Hence, the majority opinion of [European] Jews is aligned with the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism.

    Furthermore, 72% of respondents consider supporting boycotts of Israeli goods/products to be antisemitic.

    So I ask those anti-Zionists who compare Israelis to Nazis and/or call for boycotting Israel: what gives you the right to tell the vast majority of [European] Jews that they are wrong about what constitutes anti-Semitism?

  6. All of you who care about this: If you want to make a difference, you need to take 10 or 15 minutes of your time, go to the Independent newspaper, find phone numbers or email addresses of the publisher and every editor you can find, explain that Mira Bar-Hillel is a dishonest, bigoted, anti-Israel writer, and demand that the Independent use HONEST critics of Israel, instead of one-sided liars that also happen to call for Israel to be erased as a state, and send them a link to this URL, or to other websites that you feel help explain this, etc.

    Don’t just read CIFwatch, get mad, complain here in the comments section, and then watch TV and go to sleep. Every single person here needs to begin taking action. Use a fake email or a fake name if needed, but TAKE ACTION and make your voice heard. Set aside 15 minutes a day to speak out, if needed.

    This needs to be a regular habit for people who care about Israel!

  7. Also, people, on your own, via phone or emails, should contact the London Evening Standard and file complaints about Mira Bar-Hillel and her disgusting support of antisemites and “intifada” hatemongers who don’t merely “criticize” Israel but call for its destruction

    Mira Bar-Hillel pretends that “critics” of Israel are attacked. They aren’t. Hatemongers who want Israel erased/destroyed are the ones being countered.

    • “Hatemongers who want Israel erased/destroyed are the ones being countered”.

      “Oh this is such rubbish. I have begged for a strong Israel , have pleaded for violence against Jews to stop , I have condemned my country as far far worse than Israel yet have been called an anti semite on this site dozens of times.

      “The next time a commentator hostile to Jews or Israel ”

      This comment says it all, a typical attempt to conflate the two ENTIRELY separate issues.

  8. As Israel declares itself the Jewish state or the National Homeland of the Jewish People, it itself holds Jews collectively responsible for actions of itself. Does that make Israel antisemitic?