The Irish Times journalist could have responded civilly to our tweet, but instead chose snark, a complete non-sequitur designed to divert from the topic at hand, representing another example of how journalists who demand accountability from politicians and government institutions when gathering information for their reports often fail to hold themselves to the same standards when questioned by news consumers – and watchdog groups like ours.
This morning, multiple news outlets reported that the British government will adopt the Working Definition of Antisemitism. Downing Street said that the WD would assist “in efforts to fight hate crimes and incitement targeting Jews” and by ensuring that “culprits will not be able to get away with being antisemitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it”.
Avnery’s Nazi comparison is completely without merit, and the decision by Irish Times editors to publish such a smear – an analogy considered antisemitic per the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism – represents another example of how, when it comes to Israel, even the most hateful, offensive and incendiary accusations are not off-limits.
Charging Jews with engaging in behavior or embracing values similar to the Nazis is a moral and historical inversion on par with suggesting that African-Americans have adopted the values of white slave masters – a disgusting, intellectually unserious invective that should have been robustly refuted by the BBC Radio 4 host.
For veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah, the recent never-ending reports of anti-Semitic outbursts by members of the British Labour Party are understandably alarming. Abunimah has spent most of his professional life trying hard to mainstream exactly the kind of thinking that is now so widely criticized as anti-Semitic, and he seems currently very concerned that all his hard work may have failed to legitimize contemporary anti-Semitism, especially in the form of the anti-Semitic anti-Zionism that is so crucial for Abunimah’s trade.
It is wrong to say that there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party, and that this current crisis is a storm, manufactured by Jews, to silence criticism of Israel and to benefit the Tories. These are not random bad apples in a Labour barrel. They are important because they are manifestations of a way that many people, including the leader, thinks about Israel and the Jews who relate to Israel.