If you look down the right-hand sidebar of this blog, you will see a link under the “Resources” heading titled “EUMC working definition of antisemitism“. However if you click on this link you will now receive a “page no longer exists” message.
It turns out, as if we didn’t have enough trouble from the Europeans, that the EU has dropped its “working definition of antisemitism” from its website.
The European Union’s agency for combating racism dropped its definition for anti-Semitism and now is unable to define the term, an agency spokeswoman said.
Tapia was answering a query on the recent removal from the agency’s website of a “working definition” of anti-Semitism that was adopted in 2005 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia — the EU entity that her organization has replaced. The removal was first reported by the pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada.
Campaigners against anti-Semitism said the document is significant because alongside classical anti-Semitic behavior, it lists the vilification of Israel or Israelis, which some scholars call “new anti-Semitism.” The definition lists “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and drawing comparisons between Israel and Nazis as examples of anti-Semitism.
But Tapia said her organization had never viewed the document as a valid definition. Agency officials said the document had been pulled offline “together with other non-official documents.”
Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told JTA that the agency’s “disowning of its own definition is astounding” and that “those who fight anti-Semitism have lost an important weapon.” He also said the “Union’s about-face on its own definition damages its credibility.”
Shimon Samuels writes in his own article at the ToI:
On 6 November, I protested to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, the current disappearance of the “Working Definition” from the FRA website, requesting it be immediately re-uploaded.
The 29 November response from the European Commission Directorate-General Justice, with responsibility for Fundamental Rights, was astounding in insisting “at the outset, that neither the Commission in particular, nor the Union have an established definition of antisemitism and that there is no policy to create one. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the FRA is an independent agency.”
The points made by the European Commission are arguably inconsistent:
Read Samuels’ litany of European perfidy and inconsistency regarding the disappearance of this important document. He concludes:
As one of the NGOs that strove to achieve the “Working Definition,” despite its initial delays and antagonists, we consider its publication an achievement for the EU and an even more valid instrument today as anti-Jewish attacks increase across Europe.
Its removal can only comfort and encourage anti-Semites. Its return to the FRA website would be appreciated as the first step for European endorsement of what has become a vital arm in the arsenal against hate.
Samuels’ prediction of the encouragement given to antisemites by the removal of this document has already been fulfilled.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the disappearance of the EUMC was first noted by the revolting Ben White of the equally revolting and antisemitic website Electronic Intifada. (Sorry, I won’t post a link to that execrable site). The blogger Marc Goldberg commendably conducted his own research with the FRA (the agency of the EU dealing with this issue), leading to a rather benign explanation for the document’s disappearance. He writes thus about White at Harry’s Place:
What is really stupid about this whole affair is that somehow White paints the fact that the working definition isn’t adopted by the FRA as evidence of it being a “discredited definition” of anti-Semitism. What the FRA said to him and to me is that the FRA is not a body that would seek to define for a religious or ethnic group what exactly is or is not a hate crime against them. …
White wants to wade in and tell Jews what is and what is not an acceptable definition of anti-Semitism. The FRA most explicitly does not. White is happy because he thinks that the EUMC working definition defined anti-Semitism too widely, preventing him and his mates from being able to say the kinds of anti-Semitic things they, for some reason, find to be a necessary part of their anti-Israel campaigning. He is wrong, the FRA had no interest in the working definition because the parameters are too narrow.
Another antisemitic reporter, Mira Bar-Hillel, is harshly taken to task by two scathing articles. The first, at CiFWatch, provides us with extensive background information on Bar-Hillel explaining why she deserves the epithet “Antisemite”. It then decries the fact that an antisemite such as her should write an article on … Antisemitism!
In her latest Indy op-ed (an essay addressing the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism), Bar-Hillel again regales British readers with her ‘penetrating insights’ into the danger posed by ‘false accusations of antisemitism’ by organized Jewry – a piece riddled with distortions.
Conclusive proof that British papers don’t fear accusations of antisemitism can of course also be found in the simple fact that Indy editors felt no hesitation in publishing an essay – on the topic of antisemitism – by a journalist who has admitted to possessing an antipathy towards Jews.
If the organized Jewish community is indeed trying to stifle the free speech of anti-Semites, they’re clearly failing miserably at this task.
The second article dealing with Bar-Hillel is by Sarah AB at Harry’s Place, mockingly titled “Mira Bar-Hillel, silenced no more“, pointedly and sarcastically rips her claims of being silenced to shreds:
This post picks up on the issue addressed in Marc’s recent piece: the status of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism. It is a response to a bizarre article by Mira Bar-Hillel, expressing delighted relief that the working definition has now been ‘dropped’ so that she can finally speak her mind about Israel. She explains her particular beef with the definition here:
There was not, in that lengthy and detailed definition, anything new or that I would disagree with – apart from a dangerous sting in the end. This stretched the definition of anti-Semitism from the simple 2,000-year-old Jew-hating and baiting to “attacking Israel … by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”
It was this dubious extension which has been used recently to gag, or at least mute, free speech and most criticism of Israel in the UK media and beyond.
Really? I haven’t noticed criticism of Israel being particularly muted myself.
Although her discussion of the Bedouin issue is actually comparatively calm, that in itself contrives to imply that even reasoned, mild criticisms of Israel, criticism which might indeed be levelled at ‘any other democratic nation’ will cause one to be shunned and denounced. Given the inaccuracies of Bar-Hillel’s report on media coverage, it is particularly damaging that she uses it to insinuate that Israel’s critics are being silenced by dishonest manipulation of the working definition.
Ouch! It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
The blogger Liberty’s Spirit has an excellent, very informative post on the implications of the removal of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism, and the following excerpt summarizes the problem perfectly:
Apparently the sticking point is the criticism of Israel. One of the main points of the original working definition is that calling for the destruction of Israel (aka genocide against another 6 million Jews), accusing Israel of being Nazis and using old-fashioned antisemitic dog-whistles to describe Israel was antisemitism. Seems that is not the case anymore. Actually the breadth of the old definition, based upon Natan Sharansky’s 3-D test, has been a complaint of the elites since the definition was agreed upon. HERE
Sharansky’s 3-Ds of antisemitism seem to hit too close to home for these overly indulged and over-educated societal aprobates. Interestingly enough, Sharanksy never said that Israel cannot be criticized. He merely outlined what is and is not acceptable discourse and purpose. Interestingly at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held last spring there was a discussion about the effects of that definition and its real-world applications. HERE.
The EU have not adequately explained the reasoning behind the disappearance of the working definition of antisemitism. Considering how long it took for the document to be published in the first place, after delays and attempts at suppression by interested parties, how long do you think it is going to take to get this important document re-uploaded to the EUMC website? Or should we take bets that it will disappear into a black hole, never to be republished again?
[UPDATE: Brian Goldfarb in the comments gave us this link to the Working Definition on Antisemitism on the website of the European Forum on Antisemitism with which I will update my sidebar link too.]