Is the IHRA definition of Antisemitism working?
When the IHRA definition of Antisemitism was introduced, it was accepted by not only Borough councils of Great Britain, but also the police.
Since 2008, when we started this organisation, and we started to report online, malicious communications of an Anti-Jewish nature, and also getting reports through of physical assaults against Jewish people, we realised that when we were reporting to the police, or the police constables that visited us for the reports, they didn't have any idea what the definition of Antisemitism was.
It has taken quite a few years to understand that the IHRA definition is not a legal definition, it is literally a form of interpretations that cover a small amount of what Antisemitism
is defined by. It doesn't cover everything or every aspect.
However we have noticed a problem.
The definitions of what Antisemitism is has not been taken on board by any of the agencies that have adopted it. We are finding that when we report physical or online abuse, legally the police have no clue as to what they're dealing with, and when cases are put forward to the police and the CPS, they are having to go to an outside source of known reporting agencies and organisations to actually find out what Antisemitism covers.
So we are literally going around in circles.
The nuances of Antisemitism as expressed in the IHRA definition, do not cover what it actually means. We are also finding that it is very hard to explain to the police or indeed the CPS, that Jewish people can also be Antisemitic, as the definition covers a range of issues that for example, organisations who wish to destabilise conservative Zionists or support of right of centre Israelis, can also be part of the Antisemitism definition.
We know through the boycott divestment sanctions organisations or BDS, that they did not want to adopt the IHRA definition and protested about it, because they believed that it would stop them from criticising Israel. Let's just think back to the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party, when we protested outside their head office putting pressure on them to adopt this definition.
Obviously their financial existence depends on the criticism of Israel 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Without that, they wouldn't be in work.
However, we're not just talking about organisations that are not Jewish. We are talking about organisations who are Jewish
also, examples of NGOs from Israel and America whom are particularly repugnant in using Antisemitic slogans, which in the U.K. would fall under a faith or religious hate crime. And those who platform these organisations that are Antisemitic become culpable in that hate crime.
In 2023, our job is to make sure that the police and others understand that Antisemitism is not just a few sentences from a definition, but crosses areas that incorporate all the above, and include Jews and non Jews alike.