Political activists, like politicians, hate being told what to do or, in this case, their intelligence questioned, that is how I read the Green Party’s turning down of an eminently sensible statement on antisemitism.
I would assume that their rejection was part of their political stubbornness and stupidity, rather than some underlying malice. Perhaps I am being too charitable?
However, until the Green Party can candidly acknowledge its past problems with antisemitism then there will always be a lingering doubt on their sincerity, commitment to antiracism and above all, intelligence.
The failed motion below should have gone through on the nod, it is hardly contentious and nicely balanced, suggesting that the Green Party’s overall approach is not.
“The Liverpool Green Party’s working definition of antisemitism:
(1) Antisemitism is hostility to, resentment of or suspicion of Jews.
(2) Antisemitism may express itself as discrimination against Jews and this is analogous to other forms of racial or sex discrimination.
(3) Antisemitism also arises in recklessness about possible damage to the lives, welfare or feelings of Jews. When a course of action is proposed that would damage Jews, the proposer should be taken in good faith if he or she was unaware of those consequences. However, summary dismissal of evidence or argument of damaging consequences to Jews would amount to antisemitism.
(4) Antisemitism can vary in seriousness. It is antisemitic to have special expectations of Jews that are different from the general population, for example expecting a Jew to be more knowledgeable about the affairs of Israel or to be more willing “as a Jew” to criticise any action of the government of Israel, or to respond in a particular way.
(5) Antisemitism can be expressed as stereotypes about Jewishness and in references to international Jewish conspiracies.
(6) Antisemitism can be promoted by uncritical platform-sharing or co-operation with groups and individuals which are themselves antisemitic. It would set too high a standard to require perfect knowledge of any group’s or individual’s record on antisemitism. However the criterion should be that there should be an equal level of scrutiny of potential antisemitism as there would be of any other potential racialism.
(7) Criticism of the state of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic. Further, it is not a requirement on any critic of Israel that they must first locate and criticise any other state which has done worse things than has Israel. Criticism of Israel may be antisemitic if the critic applies harsher judgements on Israel than they would apply to the actions of any other state.
(8) Use of language can be antisemitic. Awareness of the history of the Holocaust, perpetrated by the Nazi regime, should preclude making any equivalences between that regime and the current government of Israel. This should not prevent any criticism of any deed by the government of Israel, but the Nazi allusion adds nothing and serves only to cause distress. “