Dave Rich

Wise up to the coded language of Jew-hatred

The QC hired by Bristol to investigate David Miller has produced a terrible, foolish report


Highlighted English word "anti semitism" and its definition in the dictionary.

December 03, 2021 11:17

The saga of Professor David Miller’s sacking from Bristol University rumbles on, this time with the leaking of one of the legal reports commissioned by the university during its prolonged investigation into his numerous antisemitic comments. This is the second QC’s report to be leaked and it exonerates Miller just as the first did, concluding that nothing he said was antisemitic.

In the process, it shows just how damaging the assault on the IHRA definition by some academics, lawyers and far left groups has been to the wider effort to combat antisemitism.

The QC was “asked to take into account” the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which was adopted by Bristol University in 2019, but devoted several pages to criticisms of the IHRA definition, drawing on legal opinions commissioned by groups like Jewish Voice for Labour and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The widespread support for the IHRA definition in the Jewish community, and its use by governments and local authorities, regulators, football clubs and other institutions, was ignored.

The QC’s report has a preference for the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, which defines antisemitism as “hatred, discrimination, prejudice or hostility against Jews as Jews, or Jewish institutions as Jewish institutions” (QC’s emphasis). But antisemites rarely say that they hate Jews because they are Jewish; even Oswald Mosley claimed “we do not attack Jews on racial or religious grounds.” That’s not how it works, and especially not for sociology professors who claim to be left wing and anti-racist.

Instead, antisemites use coded language to avoid being accused of antisemitism. There are countless well-known examples of this. Stalin’s rootless cosmopolitans. Orban’s faceless speculators. Hobson’s financiers of a single and peculiar race. Icke’s Rothschild Zionists. The Elders of Zion. The neo-cons. North London intellectuals who stick together. Zionazi child-killers and organ stealers. Triple brackets and happy merchant memes. There is a limitless lexicon of coded antisemitism that never uses the J-word.

The precise language may change, but the patterns of thought and depictions of Jewish people and organisations, whether from far right anti-globalists or far left anti-Zionists, come from the same antisemitic reservoir that was such a rich source of material for anti-Jewish agitators throughout much of the last 200 years.

This is why the definition of antisemitism as “discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews” that is at the heart of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism is so weak and ineffective. If antisemitism only counts when directed “against Jews as Jews”, then anyone who manages to avoid the J-word gets a free pass. Use coded language, dress it up as anti-Zionism, and you’ll fool a lot of people.

Bristol’s QC appears to be one of them. He or she does not declare any expert knowledge in antisemitism, nor appears to have sought any other expert opinion in the matter. He or she repeatedly says, “I am not in a position to judge the accuracy” of Miller’s claims. But none of this stops the QC from giving an opinion on it anyway.

Bear in mind that this QC was asked to assess whether it is antisemitic to accuse Jewish students of being “political pawns” who were “directed by the State of Israel” in a “campaign of manufactured hysteria”, alongside his claim that “Britain is in the grip of an assault on its public sphere by the state of Israel and its advocates” as part of an “attempt by the Israelis to impose their will all over the world”. Not antisemitic? Do me a favour.

The irony here — we Jews can do irony, despite what some people think — is that the three UK-based academics who helped to write the Jerusalem Declaration all said that Miller’s comments were antisemitic. But that is a nuance that is easily lost. The Jerusalem Declaration and the broader campaign against the IHRA definition have thrown enough dust in the eyes of people trying to assess claims of antisemitism that egregious offenders like Miller get to stroll right through.

Miller lost his job. But this report shows just how much damage has been done to the struggle against antisemitism, especially on campus, by those opponents of the IHRA definition who worked so hard to protect a space for antisemitic ways of thinking, perpetuated via anti-Zionist politics. This is why the adoption of the IHRA definition, favoured by all mainstream Jewish organisations in this country, matters, and why the Jerusalem Declaration is not just a weaker alternative but is actively harmful.

Dave Rich is Director of Policy at the Community Security Trust (CST

December 03, 2021 11:17

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