Calling Jews 'Nazis' may be criminalised

Parliament will be asked to consider whether the use of Nazi symbols and terms in reference to Jews, Israel and Zionism is breaking the law on incitement to racial hatred.

A new report by the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA) has highlighted the increasing use of what it terms the “Nazi card” in antisemitic discourse and has called for a number of measures to try to combat its spread.

“Playing the Nazi card” has been defined in the report as the use of Nazi-related terms or symbols — for example intertwining the swastika with the Star of David — while negatively referring to Jews, Israel, Zionism or other aspects of what it calls the Jewish experience.

The report, which was jointly published by EISCA and the Department for Communities and Local Government, recommends that the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) and the Crown Prosecution Service should prepare new guidance for the police on whether this kind of terminology amounts to incitement.

The report says that universities and adult education colleges should be surveyed to establish how they deal with antisemitic discourse.

It also suggests that the University and College Union and the National Union of Journalists use the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s definition of antisemitism to improve their harassment policies.

Cohesion Minister Shahid Malik, who launched the report on Tuesday alongside EISCA chairman Denis MacShane MP, said: “It is vital to reiterate the significance which my government places on tackling this scourge which has blighted our world for centuries.

“Where antisemitic discourse flourishes unchecked, an atmosphere develops where Jews and other minorities — for it is certain that other minorities will also be targeted — feel isolated and vulnerable.
“Antisemitic discourse is not targeted at an identifiable victim but at Jews as a group.

“The tone in which issues affecting Jewish people are raised or addressed by politicians, the media, educators or the business world, affects the way in which Jewish people are perceived by the wider public.”

After the launch, Mr Malik said that the report’s proposals would be overseen by the cross-government working group set up as a result of the 2006 All-Party Parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism.

Also on Tuesday, the Community Security Trust published its second report on antisemitic discourse.

Author Mark Gardner, the CST’s communications director, said that while antisemitic discourse openly targeting Jews was “extremely rare” in mainstream British politics and media, “nevertheless, antisemitism is an important matter that must be better understood and challenged before it worsens any further”.

Contemporary antisemitic discourse, he argued, “is most often revealed in language and imagery that evokes the central antisemitic allegation of a powerful and hidden Jewish conspiracy against all non-Jews”.

As the British National Party’s first two MEPs took their seats in the European Parliament this week, the Centre for Social Cohesion published a report into the party’s online network, claiming that BNP members and self-professed BNP supporters continue to host, and link to online, material that is pro-Nazi, racist, antisemitic and homophobic.

Last updated: 5:00pm, July 17 2009