Indy poll falsely suggests that UK gov’t views mere Israel criticism as antisemitic

Yesterday, we posted about Downing Street’s announcement that the government was going to adopt a version of the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism (WD) – the most widely respected and recognized official definition of antisemitism.  Regarding Israel, the WD’s definition of antisemitism includes comparing Israel with Nazi Germany and denying Israel’s right to exist.

The following day, the Independent published an op-ed by Ben White, a pro-Palestinian activists who rejects Israel’s right to exist, in response to the government’s decision. White naturally opposes the the adoption of the WD. (See our post here)

The following day, the Indy published another op-ed, by Emily Hilton, softly supporting the new definition.

Embedded in the article was the following readers’ poll:


As you can see, the wording of the poll is extremely misleading, as it suggests that the mere criticism of Israel is defined as antisemitic by the WD – reflecting White’s misleading characterization of the definition in his op-d.   However, as the WD adopted by Theresa May makes perfectly clear, mere criticism of Israel is not considered antisemitic.

Here are the specific caveats which the gov’t added to the IHRA WD:

We broadly accept the IHRA definition, but propose two additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate. The definition should include the following statements: It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent. It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.

As you can see, the wording of the online reader poll does not accurately reflect the actual language of the government adopted WD, and we’ve complained to Indy editors seeking a correction. 

12 replies »

  1. This may say a lot about what the Independent considers criticism of Israel to be. Apparently they give a wide birth to defamation.